Archive for Tuesday, November 27, 2012

City to lose firm, 70 jobs

November 27, 2012

A shortage of developed industrial sites in Shawnee may have contributed to the loss of a large employer.

Vistar, a snack and beverage vending company, is moving the Shawnee operation where it employs 70 to 80 people into 136,000 square feet of a new 200,000-square-foot building in the Horizons Business Park in Riverside, Mo., Andrew Nave, executive director of the Shawnee Economic Development Council, confirmed last week.

The company, currently located at 10600 W. 79th St. in the Nieman Business Park, needed to expand and Shawnee “didn’t have what they needed long-term,” Nave said.

The EDC pitched Vistar on some build-to-suit sites that could have accommodated the company in western Shawnee. But those sites did not fit the company’s location criteria, which called for a facility more centrally located within the metropolitan region.

Vistar will be eligible for $107,785 in Missouri Quality Jobs Act incentives as a result of its move. But Nave said “incentives weren’t a major issue, according to what was conveyed to me.”

“Having a healthy number of available sites and buildings is what any community needs to attract and recruit new businesses and also retain your existing businesses,” Nave said. “It’s been an ongoing issue with our community that we don’t have an ample supply of industrial properties. We have a lot of raw ground, but not a lot of sites that are shovel ready.”

Nave said that could change with the development of the Shawnee Eco-Commerce Center, a proposed 422-acre industrial project west of Kansas Highway 7 and 43rd Street.

That site wouldn’t have been attractive to Vistar, Nave said. But its accessibility to Kansas Highway 7 and Interstate 70 would serve a number of industrial tenants’ needs, he said.

In August, the Shawnee City Council Committee signaled its support for city investment in road and utility extensions needed to spur the development of the Eco-Commerce Center.

Industrial development is currently the “hot” sector in the regional commercial development market, with more than 3 million square feet of industrial deals — the equivalent of about 6,000 jobs — looking for area development sites to land in, Nave said.

But with Shawnee’s largest industrial site, Perimeter Park, nearing capacity, the city doesn’t have many fully developed sites to show prospective tenants, he said.

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