Archive for Business

KCK Chamber’s annual meeting to celebrate 20th year of UG consolidation

The 2017 KCK Chamber Annual Meeting, entitled “WyCo Wins,” will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at the Reardon Convention Center, located at 530 Minnesota Ave., Kansas City, Kansas.

The event – which kicks off the 20th anniversary celebration of KCK/Wyandotte County consolidation – is one of Kansas City’s most noteworthy business events, and the KCK Chamber’s largest event of the year.

“We are excited to showcase ‘WyCo Wins’ and celebrate the success of our partners,” said KCK Chamber President and CEO Daniel Silva. “The Chamber played a vital role 20 years ago in the consolidation effort, and our organization is proud to highlight this momentous piece of KCK/WyCo history.”

The Unified Government was created by Wyandotte County voters in 1997, when they agreed to consolidate the county government and city of Kansas City, Kansas, government. The community was suffering from years of economic hardships and decline.

“Consolidation of the city-county government was a grassroots effort led by citizens who wanted to improve their community,” said Mike Taylor, public relations director for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County – Kansas City, Kansas. “The creation of the UG is the landmark event which has led to a remarkable re-birth of KCK and WyCo.”

Twenty years later, the population has stabilized, new single family housing permits have increased, retail sales have increased and assessed valuation for the county has exceeded $1.1 billion.

The program will feature fireside chats with area leaders including Wyandotte Economic Development Council Board Chair and BHC Rhodes President Kevin Honomichl; Kansas City, Kansas, Convention and Vistors’ Bureau President and CEO Bridgette Jobe; Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools Superintendent Cindy Lane; and, former Mayor of KCK and Wyandotte County and leading advocate for city-county consolidation, Carol Marinovich. The emcee for the event is Mary Sanchez, editorial page columnist for The Kansas City Star.

Doors open at 11:15 a.m., followed by the annual meeting lunch at 11:30 a.m., board chair comments, an Ambassador Award ceremony and the panel discussion starting at noon.

The event is open to the public, KCK Chamber members, chamber guests, and members of the news media.

Those who wish to register or need more information may call the KCK Chamber at 913-748-3070 or email Katelyn McInerney at Register online at

The mission of the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce is to enhance and create opportunities in Wyandotte County which build a quality community to live, work and conduct business. A vital part of the community since 1898, the chamber works in four core areas – legislative, information, networking and community.

For more information, visit the KCK Chamber’s website at

– Information from Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce

Indian Springs proposal draws mixed reaction

by Murrel Bland

It was a crowded hall with standing room only. The temperature was quite warm as a fuse for the air conditioning had blown. But some of the comments directed at Unified Government officials elevated the humid atmosphere even more.

The scene was a meeting room with more than 100 persons Wednesday night, April 12, at the Unified Government’s Neighborhood Resource Center, 4953 State Ave. The controversial subject was the redevelopment that Lane 4 Property Group is proposing for Indian Springs. Two Unified commissioners, Melissa Bynum (First Dist.-At Large ) and Jane Winkler Philbrook (Eighth Dist.) , along with the county administrator’s office, arranged for the meeting. Indian Springs is in the two commissioners’ districts. The Unified Government purchased the failed center in 2007.

Hunter Harris of Lane 4, who lives in Mission Hills, outlined a proposal that would call for the redevelopment of about 26 acres of the south end of the former Indian Springs mall. That proposal calls for a “flex-tech” light industrial and office use. Harris said Lane 4 would develop buildings with 350,000 square feet of floor space at a cost of $25 million. Industrial revenue bonds, which would need approval from the Unified Commission, would help finance the project.

A typical building might have limited office space in the front with most of the building being used for warehouse space and internet sales. Harris estimated the development would employ about 350 persons. He said it could be operational later this year.

Harris cited several successful projects that Lane 4 has developed including those in the Rosedale and Argentine communities and the Children’s Mercy Park in Village West. Lane 4 will be the master developer for the Village South project in Edwardsville. Lane 4 has its offices on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.

Harris said that Lane 4 decided to submit a proposal after a call for developers yielded no takers. He said he is been working on the project for three years at the request of the Unified Government. He said it would not be possible for traditional retailers to be attracted to Indian Springs.

Gordon Criswell, an assistant county administrator, asked members to tell what their dream and vision would be for Indian Springs. Bynum said she could see Indian Springs as a place where successful local restaurants could develop a second location.

One person said that it would be an ideal location for affordable housing for older adults. Dave Hurrelbrink, whose family owns an industrial supply business, said there is a demand for similar businesses like his. Joe Vaught said the purchase price that Lane 4 would pay
— $750,000 — is too low and wouldn’t help reduce high property taxes.

Janice Witt, a candidate for Kansas City, Kansas, mayor, said that not enough information has been shared with the public. After the meeting, Witt handed out flier urging voters to elect her mayor. She alleged there was corruption, greed and favoritism in the Unified Government. She was an unsuccessful candidate for mayor in 2013.

One woman called for walking trails and youth athletic fields.

Mark Wiebe, a former reporter and columnist for The Kansas City Star and now a political adviser for Mayor Mark Holland, said the Indian Springs proposal was not the first choice for the mayor.

The Unified Government will hold an informal meeting about the proposal from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, at the Neighborhood Resource Center. An additional informational meeting will be held at 6 p.m. that day in the Conference Room of the Kansas City, Kansas, Public School District Office, 2010 N. 59th St.

The Unified Government Commission is scheduled to vote on the project at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27, in the Commission Chambers at City Hall, 701 N. Seventh St. The Board of Directors of Business West has endorsed the project. Philbrook and Bynum are members of the Business West board; however, both abstained from voting on the resolution of support.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.

Waste Management makes investments in recycling and environmentally friendly equipment

Workers sorted through items on a conveyor belt on Thursday at the Waste Management recycling facility on South 88th. The facility has made several improvements, including more automation, according to officials. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

by Mary Rupert

Hard hats were in fashion on Thursday on a tour of the Waste Management recycling facility on South 88th Street.

Inside the recycling facility, old newspapers, aluminum cans and plastic milk jugs made their way down one of several conveyor belts, on their way to being sorted and gathered into bundles, and ready to be shipped off to a plant that will turn them into newspapers, tissues, new metal parts, aluminum cans and more.

According to company officials, Waste Management has transformed its Wyandotte County recycling facility and its trash trucks in an effort to be more environmentally friendly.

At an open house held on Thursday to call attention to its environmental efforts near Earth Day, company officials highlighted recycling at the Waste Management Material Recovery Facility at 2441 S. 88th St., Kansas City, Kansas.

About $30 million has been invested into upgrading recycling facilities, CNG trucks and equipment here, according to Michael J. Watson, area vice president for Waste Management.

He said processing equipment will make recycling safer and allow Waste Management to process more materials more quickly.

At the recycling plant, which opened in 1995, there are magnets which pick up steel items from a conveyor belt full of metal products, separating the steel and tin from the aluminum cans. Paper items of all kinds ride up another conveyor belt where the lighter papers become airborne in a chute. Items are separated and drop into the correct bin underneath.

People are still required to look over the items on the conveyor belts before they go to their final bundle, and the workers separate anything that doesn’t belong in that line into bins marked with labels such as “containers” or “aluminum.” They take out anything that can’t be recycled – such as a pair of shoes on the conveyor belt today – or that is contaminated. About 85 people work at the plant, according to company officials.

New equipment that includes optic sorting systems and screens has been installed recently at the plant.

The recycling plant, opened in 1995, is a 70,000-square-foot building where items that are recycled are separated into groups in order to be shipped off for recycling, according to officials. If residents put items such as newspapers, bottles and cans into a green recycling bin and set it out at their curb, it should end up at this recycling facility. Residents are reminded not to send them any rigid plastics, no garden hoses, and no auto parts.

The plant processes about 70,000 to 80,000 tons of recyclables a year, according to officials.

There are stacks of bundled paper in the recycling facility currently, waiting to be taken to their next location. The company typically receives about $60 to $80 per ton currently for recycled newspapers, which doesn’t leave much profit, according to a company official.

Out on the road, there are more efforts to save energy. The company is increasing the number of trucks that run on compressed natural gas from the current 77 to close to 100 by the end of the year, according to Lisa Disbrow, area senior manager for Waste Management. New CNG trash trucks will have almost no emissions, she added.

She said methane gas is being produced at the Johnson County landfill, and can be used to power the trash trucks.

The CNG trucks will save about 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year, according to company officials.

Earlier this week, the Unified Government sent out a news release about working with Waste Management to reach an agreement to improve trash collection in Kansas City, Kansas. There will be more trash trucks and routes added, an additional recycling truck added, plus trash pickup will speed up, according to the news release. The improvements followed on frequent customer complaints last year after Deffenbaugh was sold to Waste Management.

According to Watson, Waste Management has been working closely with leaders at the UG and in Wyandotte County. The company hired 100 more drivers and provided more safety training for them, he said. The company experienced a driver shortage, and then increased compensation for drivers, he added.

He said the trash collection picture here has improved, and the company is making significant reductions in the number of missed pickups. It also is making a significant investment in equipment here, he said.

The Waste Management recycling facility on South 88th included stacks of bundled recyclable materials. The plant recently has been upgraded. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Paper rides up a conveyor belt on its way to being bundled and recycled. The Waste Management recycling plant on South 88th has recently added new recycling equipment. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Workers sort through a pile of paper that will be recycled on Thursday at the Waste Management recycling plant in Kansas City, Kansas. Equipment was recently upgraded at the plant. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

After paper goes past some workers who check that there is no contamination, the paper drops into another bin at the Waste Management recycling plant on South 88th. Recently, equipment was upgraded at the plant. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Stacks of newsprint and other recyclable material are inside the Waste Management recycling plant, waiting for their next journey. Recently, equipment at the recycling plant was upgraded. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

On the left are bundles of cans, and in the center are bundles of recycled milk containers at the Waste Management recycling facility on South 88th. A tour was held of the facility today. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Some new compressed natural gas trash trucks are being added to the Waste Management fleet and are expected to reduce emissions, according to Lisa Disbrow, area senior manager for Waste Management. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)