KC considers local hiring agreements for public-supported developments

This summer, fewer than one in seven construction workers swarming over Cerner’s new $4.45 billion campus in south Kansas City are residents of the city.

That doesn’t sit well with people who think such big development projects — when partly subsidized by city taxpayers — should provide jobs for people who live in the city and pay those taxes.

Cerner is receiving $1.75 billion in public assistance, the largest incentives bundle in Missouri history, to build the new office campus. Over the 10-year buildout, the project expects to use 4,500 construction workers.

Kansas City Council member Alissia Canady is among residents who rejoice at the development. But she and others are pushing for a city ordinance to ensure that such tax-subsidized projects provide jobs to area workers or other local benefits.

Canady and fellow council member Scott Wagner are leading a push this week to create community benefits agreements, vehicles allowing the city to negotiate with private developers who seek public incentives such as tax abatement or tax increment financing.

An agreement to provide jobs or other benefits would be reached before a developer could obtain incentives through any of the city’s economic development agencies.

Such agreements are used in Seattle, Denver and other cities around the country, Wagner said, emphasizing that Kansas City’s version would affect only future projects, not existing ones.

Read more: Kansas City Star

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