Leadership Strategies

Lee's Summit rolls out red carpet for 100 economic developers

About 100 economic developers from throughout the Midwest toured the City of Lee's Summit as part of a weeklong "Economic Development 101" course study on Tuesday, April 24.

Sanctioned by the International Economic Development Council, the week-long Heartland Economic Development Course (HEDC) is offered through the University of Northern Iowa. The 2018 program was held at Adams Pointe Conference Center in Blue Springs, Mo.

Each year, the program gives students a chance to "See What Works" by highlighting a community that has successfully implemented critical components of community and economic development. On April 24, students toured Lee's Summit where they experienced a "walking case study" of effective infrastructure, land use, site development and reuse/downtown revitalization.

"This year's tour focused on Lee's Summit's successful educational ecosystem that includes the Missouri Innovation Campus and Summit Technology Academy, as well as Historic Downtown Lee's Summit," said LSEDC President Rick McDowell. "Business owners and civic leaders served as volunteer tour guides and offered insight into what has led to Lee's Summit's successful development efforts."

For more than a decade, the HEDC has offered intensive training in the basic concepts, information, methods and strategies of local economic development. Graduation from HEDC fulfills one of the education prerequisites for those who wish to obtain Certified Economic Development (CEcD) designation.

“Our purpose was to come and hear about what has been going on in Lee’s Summit both from a workforce development and historic redevelopment standpoint. It is a powerful success story in the economic development world,” said James Hoelscher, course director. “In addition, our students are also very interested in all of the mixed-use activity taking place near the Missouri Innovation Campus.”

Over the course of a week, students receive expert instruction on economic development fundamentals such as business retention/expansion, workforce development, entrepreneurship, marketing, business attraction, real estate development/reuse and financing. Attendees work in a wide range of organizations, including cities, chambers of commerce, economic development groups, neighborhood organizations and incentive granting agencies.

Catching up with 2018 CREW KC President Debbie Swearingen

Debbie Swearingen is approaching the midway point of her tenure as 2018 president of CREW KC, an organization that works to advance the success of women in commercial real estate. The VP of commercial banking for Community America Credit Union updated MetroWire Media on key initiatives and the year so far.

MWM: What kind of changes are taking place at CREW KC on your watch?

Swearingen: This year we did a true strategic plan. In our first meeting, we talked about vision and where we wanted the organization to go. We are focusing on four main areas of programming, membership, communications, and community connections. 

MWM: How are you changing CREW KC programming?

Swearingen: We want to resonate in the industry with great programs that bring value to our members but also support our community. In April, our quarterly luncheon covered development and history around the Troost corridor, so we are holding programs that elevate what our community is about by looking at our history, present day and future.

MWM: CREW KC is typically viewed as a networking organization for women. How do you see that changing?

Swearingen: Another goal for this year is to build and retain a diverse membership with an emphasis on key decision makers. We are working to increase diversity by gender, age and race while growing our presence throughout the community. A lot of people don't know what we are all about so we are working to improve our branding and become more well known in the community.

MWM: How do you measure success?

Swearingen: One of our strategic goals for this year is to build meaningful and purposeful relationships, both personal and professional. Being a member of CREW KC isn't necessarily about the business you get but also about personal growth and building relationships. That's important for achieving balance.

MWM: What do you hope people remember about your year as CREW KC president?

Swearingen: I wanted to put the fun back into CREW so we also remember what we are here for. When you do that, business comes. We've added lot of new activities for members and prospective members, including taking a party bus to FunkyTown, networking at Chicken N Pickle and a casino night hosted by BHC Rhodes for recruiting new members. We're doing things a bit differently to get to know people on a more personal level.

Five minutes with Valbridge President Laird Goldborough

Over the past decade, Valbridge Property Advisors in Kansas City has enjoyed double digit growth and seen its staff double in size. Formerly Shaner Appraisals, the company rebranded in 2013 and founded national firm Valbridge Property Advisors. The move led to access to national clients and a 20 percent uptick in customer growth over the past five years. MetroWire Media caught up with Valbridge President Laird Goldborough for insight into the Kansas City market and a look at what's ahead for the company.  

MWM: How did your 2013 founding of Valbridge change Shaner Appraisals?

Goldsborough: We shifted to a national platform. Shaner Appraisals, Inc. was a local company, and we now have national reach as well as access to larger corporate clients. In Kansas City, we were a dominant firm but were not nationally recognized. Now as Valbridge, we have a bigger seat at the table.

MWM: Some are predicting a market slowdown in 2019. What are you seeing?

Goldsborough: I am more optimistic. Kansas City is a low beta market, so there are not a lot of swings. The coasts tend to move up or down before we do. The number of construction cranes is crazy in Kansas City. Single-family is very active, and in the short term the only thing that may start affecting the velocity is an interest rate hike. I don’t really see a major slowdown any time soon. I have not seen any product that has ceased building. It’s been a nice run and cycles do end, but I don’t see the end in the near term.

MWM: You’re celebrating five years as Valbridge, but you’ve been around much longer than that. How has your leadership changed and how will it continue to evolve?

Goldsborough: This is the 40th anniversary of Shaner Appraisals, founded by Bernie Shaner. I purchased the company from Bernie, but he remains very active. We just announced the next generation of leadership with the appointments of Daniel Kann and Jason Roos to Managing Directors. These guys have done everything right. They work hard and are very smart, and we are happy to have them lead the firm into the future.

MWM: How is your role at VPA changing?

Goldsborough: I am seeing my role shift a bit toward mentoring, and I really love coaching and bringing people up through the system. I am a graduate of the HEMP program (Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program), and it is all about giving back and mentoring the next generation. After graduating from that program, this succession planning makes a lot of sense.

Valbridge Property Advisors Principals Bernie Shaner and Laird Goldsborough have announced a new succession plan for leadership that promotes Daniel Kann and Jason Roos to Managing Directors. Pictured above: Bernie Shaner, Daniel Kann, Jason Roos, Laird Goldsborough

Valbridge Property Advisors Principals Bernie Shaner and Laird Goldsborough have announced a new succession plan for leadership that promotes Daniel Kann and Jason Roos to Managing Directors. Pictured above: Bernie Shaner, Daniel Kann, Jason Roos, Laird Goldsborough