South Kansas City Businesses Find Out How They Can Be Part Of Airport Construction
On Saturday morning, Monique Campbell bustled up and down the stairs inside the Goppert Theatre at Avila University, attending breakout sessions at an economic development summit.
"There's something for everyone, whether you're a community member, whether you own a small business, or if you're a large business owner," said Campbell, who works for Bellewether, a small business operations consulting company.
This marked the fifth annual summit hosted by the South Kansas City Alliance. Sessions ranged from social media marketing strategies to training programs for neighborhood leaders.
"South Kansas City is growing at an amazing rate and people don't always know that," said Tracey Hawkins, an Alliance board member, who runs a safety and security business. "So our goal is to focus on that, to let people know we're growing and there's space to grow."
Small businesses, including Betty Rae's Ice Cream and Crows Coffee, shared their stories, and larger companies, such as Cerner Corporation and Burns & McDonnell, provided expansion updates.
A few dozen people packed a classroom as representatives from Kansas City International Airport developer Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate discussed timing for the new single terminal and how local businesses can get involved.
"The airport's on the north side of the city. We do a lot of stuff up there because that's close to the airport," said Edgemoor development manager Dan Moylan, "but getting into the rest of the community like this has been one of our goals. So that's what we're doing."
Construction on the new single terminal at KCI can't start until the city council approves a development agreement. But when the project gets underway an estimated 800 to 1,200 contractors and tradespeople will be needed each week.
"Young people these days are not coming into the construction workforce," Moylan said, "so we've got to help feed that capacity."
To help build that workforce capacity, Edgemoor is launching a pre-apprenticeship program in early 2019. The company will be reaching out to high school graduates, who are not ready to attend college or who are interested in entering the construction trades.
"It seems to be opportunities for all," said Monique Campbell about the project, after sitting in on the Edgemoor session.
Campbell, who's African-American, added, "We are going to, as far as minorities go, get a seat at the table. I see this as a legacy project, and I see this as a project that can change all of Kansas City if we take this project as a springboard."
Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.