In the News: Dec 2014

Tidbits of business news from around the region


DeKalb County

Wind Farm on Market
The Lost Creek Wind Farm, a 100-turbine operation that spans 23,000 acres in northwest Missouri, is being listed for sale by
its owner, St. Louis-based Wind Capital Group.

The wind farm started generating electricity in 2010, and has been the subject of a long-
running dispute over its property-tax valuation by county officials, leaving millions of dollars work of expected payments tied up in escrow. Wind Capital cited favorable market conditions for its decision to sell Lost Creek and Post Rock Wind Farm in south-central Kansas.

Jackson County

Nerdery Moving to KC
Score one more for KC’s ability to attract tech companies: a Minneapolis-based company called The Nerdery will spend $4.3 million to bolster its presence here, bringing 100 highly paid workers to the region within the next five years. The company has leased an additional 25,000 square feet in the Western Union Building, where its current staff of 33 is already at work. State targets for job creation and investment could yield the company nearly $2.3 million in tax credits and $90,000 more in job training funds.

Freightquote Sold
Freightquote, one of the region’s growth firms for the past 15 years, is about to get a new owner: C.H. Robinson, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., has announced that it will acquire Freightquote for $365 million. Pending approval from regulators, the deal would likely close in the first quarter of 2015. It did not mention how the sale would affect roughly 1,000 employees at the $44 million Freight-
quote headquarters, which opened last year.

EDC Changes at the Top
Bob Langenkamp, the assistant city manager for planning in Kansas City, has been appointed as interim CEO of the Economic Development Commission, following the Dec. 1 resignation of Pete Fullerton. A long-simmering dispute between the board of the Tax Increment Financing Commission and the EDC, its parent, involved accounting processes that have delayed an audit of EDC operations, prompting what Fullerton called a mutual decision. He joined the EDC in 2012 after 22-years at the helm of Platte County Economic Development Council.

Solar Push in Independence
Independence Power and Light, which has a stated goal of deriving 10 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2018, is soliciting proposals for a solar energy farm capable of generating up to 10 megawatts of electricity. The public utility, which is also exploring options for wind generation, would use that output to help offset the loss of generating capacity that will come with the closing of one coal-burning plant by 2016.

Johnson County

For years, cash-strapped cities have explored ways to reduce costs and improve service by privatizing municipal functions, but Warrensburg is bucking that trend by taking over sewer utility billing service from a private vendor. The Warrensburg Sewer Utility Billing Department is now handling all billings and collections, a move that the city says will yield “a more accurate and effective billing process.” The source did not disclose why the move was being made, or name the private vendor.

Platte County

Skyport Building Sold
Monmouth Real Estate Investment Corp., a New Jersey-based REIT, has acquired a new 158,417-square-foot industrial building at Skyport Industrial Park near KCI. The $9.6-million sale paves the way for Bunzl Distribution Midcentral to relocate from its previous space at Skyport. Bunzl, a global supplier of retail products, posts annual sales of $8.5 billion.


Douglas County

Apartment Project Hits Roadblock
City Commissioners in Lawrence have rebuffed plans for a  $75 million apartment building near the University of Kansas campus, at least temporarily. Neighbors said that the 624-bedroom structure would add to parking problems. Developers hoped that
an agreement with KU to allow residents to park on campus lots, using permits issued by the university, would win approval. City planners previously approved a design with 100 fewer spaces than the original proposal.

Johnson County

Industrial Buildings Sell
Hines Interests has sold a parcel at Lenexa Industrial Park to an out-of-state joint venture for $32.475 million. The sale to a joint venture deal includes 23 industrial buildings and 16 acres of land available for development. The buyers are Odyssey Real Estate Capital of Las Vegas and Artemis Real Estate Partners of Chevy Chase, Md. The buildings include 722,000 square feet, and are between 15 and 42 years old.

Flexsteel Adding 141
Furniture maker Flexsteel Industries recently bought a 500,000 square-foot distribution site at Logistics Park Kansas City and plans to put 141 workers in to the building. The company’s $4.5 million payroll—and $35 million capital investment, atop the $24.1 million purchase price for the building—validated NorthPoint Development’s decision to build the facility without a tenant or buyer. NorthPoint says Flexsteel is the fourth distribution facility to locate at the logistics park.

CenturyLink Site Selling
With most of its 575 employees relocated to the New Century AirCenter, CenturyLink has placed on the market a 14.3-acre plot that includes its twin office buildings at I-435 and Nall. The buildings, with a combined 232,308 square feet, served as the head-
quarters for Embarq, after it was spun off by Sprint in 2006; Embarq was then acquired by Monroe, La.-based CenturyLink in 2009.

Shawnee County

News Updates from the Capital cities

Innovation Center to Open
Topeka’s goal of promoting entrepreneurship, innovation and business start-ups will advance next month with the opening of a public-private effort dubbed 712 Innovations. The 5,000-square-foot facility downtown is billed as a way to help entrepreneurs access small business tools, technology, office space and networking opportunities. Private donations have financed the majority of the project.

Washington | Hope Seen in Existing Home Sales
Sales of existing homes nationwide rose in October for a second straight month, topping year-over-year levels for the first time in a year, the National Association of Realtors says. Sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops rose 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.26 million in October, up from 5.18 million in September, the association said. That put sales at their highest annual pace since September 2013. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said strength in job market over the past six months “bodes well for solid demand to close out the year and the likelihood of additional months of year-over-year sales increases.” The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $208,300, up 5.5 percent from October 2013, and the 32nd consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

Jefferson City | Special Session Scrapped
Gov. Jay Nixon and leaders of the Republican-dominated General Assembly have reached an agreement that will cancel plans for the special session he had previously sought over financing authority to deal with public-safety issues in riot-torn Ferguson, Mo. Nixon may use existing appropriations from the State Emergency Management Agency to cover the costs of having the Missouri National Guard on call and for additional costs incurred by the Highway Patrol. That negates the need for a special session to address those security costs in Ferguson.

Topeka | State’s Growth Prospects Chill
A survey that measures the potential for economic growth in Midwestern states showed that Kansas remained well over the threshold that indicates expansion, despite a 7-point drop in the index from the previous reading in September. The Kansas Business Conditions Index showed the state with a 62.4 percent reading in October, down 7.3 points from September’s reading, but still above the 50-point mark that delineates growth economies from those that are likely to contract. While the growth figure put Kansas behind states like North Dakota and Minnesota, it still had a higher reading than Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. The index is compiled by Ernie Goss, an economics professor at Creighton University.