In an effort to keep its promise for 35 percent participation from minority and women-owned businesses, developer Edgemoor has partnered with Kansas City-based Lead Bank. The bank will provide low-interest loans to Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) and Women Business Enterprises (WBE) and ensure those firms are paid without a lengthy delay.
Lead Bank CEO Josh Rowland said there’s often a long lag time between when the work is finished and payment for projects like this.
"For a small business that has limited financial means, this can often be the kiss of death," Rowland said.
In its memorandum of understanding (MOU), the Maryland-based developer of Kansas City's new single-terminal airport made a firm pledge to hire MBE and WBE firms throughout all phases of the $1 billion project.
The partnership, announced Tuesday, came as a surprise to Kansas City Councilman Quinton Lucas.
"It was my understanding that Edgemoor would try to find a way to partner with a local minority or woman-owned bank," Lucas told KCUR.
That understanding is based on terms outlined in the memorandum of understanding, which was revised in February. The "community benefits agreement" in the original MOU confirmed that Edgemoor had met with both Liberty Bank — a black-owned business — and Lead Bank, but that the next step was to "select local minority- or woman-owned bank with which to partner" for a pay without delay program.
Lead Bank is neither.
"But they are a community bank so their focus is helping the community of Kansas City grow, and they target small businesses — women-owned, minority-owned businesses is a key focus for their banking practice," said Edgemoor Managing Director Geoff Stricker.
Lead Bank spent the past two years providing $12 million in affordable financing for WEB and MEB companies in its "For Change Initiative."
That's one of the reasons Edgemoor found them to be the best fit over other local banks, Stricker said.
Lucas said Lead Bank has been at times instrumental in the urban core but that he hoped Edgemoor will invite public discussion on the matter.
"These issues are important to us. Part of the reason we went through all that conversation over time was to make sure the promises we made to the community would be kept. And I find this to be an important promise, I want to make sure we're still achieving the goal," Lucas said.