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Council approves incentives for East Side business incubator as sales tax funds flow

Community Builders of Kansas City received the first funds generated by the Central City Economic Development Sales Tax to renovate a business incubator at 50th Street and Prospect Avenue.
Community Builders of Kansas City received the first funds generated by the Central City Economic Development Sales Tax to renovate a business incubator at 50th Street and Prospect Avenue.

More than a year and a half after Kansas Citians voted to kick-start economic development along Prospect Avenue, the City Council approved funds Thursday to to provide more space for an incubator serving women-and-minority-owned businesses.

It’s the first project expected to be completed using proceeds from the one-eighth-cent Central City Economic Development Sales Tax, intended to help revitalize an area bounded by The Paseo, Indiana Avenue, 9th Street and Gregory Boulevard.

The council voted unanimously to back the renovation, proposed by Community Builders of Kansas City, with $627,785 in tax funds.

Sales tax board members heard proposals this fall for an array of projects, including child care facilities, office developments and affordable housing. It forwarded recommendations to the council.

Community Builders of Kansas City, a non-profit development organization that works in the urban core, plans to renovate the building to add more space for small businesses to rent. It currently houses the Blue Hills Business Center and Contractor Incubator, which serves predominantly women-and minority-owned businesses.

According to a statement from the organization, the added space will help the incubator, keep the building financially viable and allow for more social services, educational and training programs on site.

Shannon Hesterberg, director of real estate for CBKC, said it allows the organization “to fulfill our promise to the neighborhood of preserving this important community asset.”

“This is just one of the transformational projects CBKC envisions in the near term along the Prospect and Blue/Swope Parkway corridors,” she said in the statement.

CBKC hopes to complete the project by the end of February.

Councilwoman Alissia Canady, who represents the 5th District and is running for mayor, said she was pleased with the projects the sales tax board recommended for council approval. She said the incubator renovation would be beneficial to the neighborhood and keep the building from becoming blighted.

“But more importantly, you’ve got additional workforce, additional job opportunities right in the central city along the Prospect corridor,” she said.

The council also approved unanimously a resolution proposed by Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, 4th District at-large, that directs City Manager Troy Schulte to come up with a program to waive late fees or penalties levied against furloughed federal workers for unpaid water and sewer bills.

Parts of the federal government have been shut down since Dec. 22 as President Donald Trump feuds with members of Congress over including funds for his proposed border wall in the budget.

“Many of our local citizens are suffering because of the shutdown,” Shields said. “They’re not receiving pay.”

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