Members of three organizations have come together to speed the process of starting a business in Kirkwood.
Jim Wright, president of the Kirkwood-Des Peres Chamber of Commerce announced the formation of a new task force at the Oct. 18 meeting of the Kirkwood City Council.
The task force is called the Center for Economic Progress (CEP) and is made up of representatives from the chamber, the Downtown Kirkwood Special Business District and the Kirkwood Business Development Corporation.
According to a statement given to the Kirkwood City Council, the mission of CEP is "to explore and create opportunities to facilitate economic growth that will stimulate future sales tax revenue and contribute to the quality of life for the Kirkwood Community and its environs."
“Our boards of directors recognize the availability of several key properties now offered have the potential for progressive growth in Kirkwood," Wright says in the statement. "With this in mind, it has become necessary to expedite the planning process to ensure the City has some control of how the properties are to be developed and to attract new development that will become an asset to the community."
Donna Poe, executive director of the Downtown Kirkwood Special Business District, reviewed a list of ten mutually agreed and board approved principles identified by CEP as necessary and essential to assure success. They include:
- Inventory the community for underutilized properties that hold promise for increased sales taxes and best and highest property use.
- Develop an RFP for professional planning services and contract with the selected professional firm to create an economic development progress plan within the next four months.
- Maximize job creation prospects to secure additional employment opportunities within the community for Kirkwood residents.
- Capitalize on current economic opportunities such as low interest rates, etc.
- Consider appropriate incentives to encourage desired development and inventory resources elicit financial opportunities from the state, county and East-West Gateway.
- Produce a plan to guide business attraction opportunities.
- Maintain and support/improve the architectural character of current business corridors.
- Identify underutilized assets in our community and evaluate their potential to generate sales tax.
- Develop a plan to regionally promote and enhance local business in cooperation with other businesses and cities in our region.
- Devote more resources to simplify the process and improve the experience of opening a business in Kirkwood.
The move to kick start this examination of business opportunities in Kirkwood is pressing, according to Wright.
“These are not lofty goals, but a common sense approach to protect the community while we target prospective types of businesses in a well planned, systematic approach. Once again, the Center feels it essential to begin this process immediately," Wright adds in the statement.
“The CEP is looking forward to continued dialogue directed toward achieving these goals. The Center feels success will be measured by realizing the mutual benefit to City government, its business and residential constituents,” he concluded in the statement.