Plans to develop a biotech research and office park in southeast Kansas City — combined with the even more ambitious Cerner Corp. project nearby — could turn into a big victory for the entire region.
It’s all part of a grand vision to attract health-related firms to a long-struggling part of the city. It would encompass new buildings, perhaps thousands of new workers and lead to more economic magic. That could include reinvestment by homeowners in local neighborhoods and an influx of complementary retail.
The City Council already appropriately has endorsed large taxpayer subsidies for Cerner’s plan to occupy the old site of the Bannister Mall and some other property around it, on the way to creating a promised 16,000 jobs.
Now, a project called Oxford on the Blue is hoping to get tax abatement from the council, starting with a hearing next week. Elected officials must scrutinize whether they have good reasons to approve reasonable incentives.
Creating a large node of health-care related development could be a significant success, especially given the aging of the American population, the need for better medical records and the desire for improved medical research. In a decade or so, southeast Kansas City could be a hub for all these activities.
It helps that Oxford on the Blue is the brainchild of James E. Stowers III, son of the late James Stowers Jr., founder of American Century Investments and a benefactor of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City. It is not connected to the new project.
The council should set strict guidelines for how long the tax incentives, if awarded, would last. Oxford on the Blue supporters can help their cause by providing more details about exactly what they hope to build and how many jobs they expect to create.