Business community expresses support for bill designed to end border war

Missouri Sen. Ryan Silvey’s plan to impose a truce in the Missouri-Kansas economic development border war picked up significant backing Thursday.

Don Hall Jr., chairman of the Civic Council, and Roshann Parris, chairwoman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, expressed support for Silvey’s approach to ending the cross-border poaching of businesses and jobs that has dominated local development for months.

Silvey’s plan — prefiled this week — would prohibit use of Missouri development incentives for any company moving from Johnson, Wyandotte, Miami or Douglas counties in Kansas.

But the plan would go into effect only if Kansas agreed to a similar ban on using incentives to lure jobs away from Cass, Platte, Clay or Jackson counties in Missouri.

“This legislation will provide the pathway for Missouri and Kansas to join together in controlling this wasteful spending,” Hall said in a statement issued by the chamber. “For too long our efforts have been directed at shuffling existing jobs, not growing new jobs.”

Greg Graves, a past president of the chamber, also expressed support for the Silvey approach, calling it a “great initial step.”

Missouri and Kansas have spent more than $750 million in incentives over the past five years to persuade businesses to move in the Kansas City area, The Associated Press found last year.

Silvey’s bill will compete with a different proposal from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. In November the Democratic governor called for an immediate moratorium on business incentive competition in the region.

Silvey is a Republican from Kansas City. Sen. Jason Holsman, a co-sponsor, is a Democrat from Kansas City.