Business West, Inc., serves the suburban area of Kansas City, Kansas, bounded by 57th Street (Meadowlark Lane) on the east, Parallel Parkway on the north, the city limits on the west and the Kansas River on the south. This includes the 66111 and 66112 zip code areas and the western routes of 66102.
Joe and Katie Maderak founded the organization in 1985 so that business would have a collective voice. The organization serves primarily small businesses. However, larger businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals are welcome to join.
A Board of Directors that meets monthly governs the organization.
Business West started because of individual effort.
It was the spring of 1985 when Joe Maderak, the founder and owner of a Kansas City, Kansas, masonry construction company, hit the street armed with a petition seeking members to join a business association. This was something Maderak had wanted to do for some time. His wife Katie assisted him with this effort.
The voters of Kansas City, Kansas, had approved a new, reform city government after many years of waste, fraud and abuse. The new form, which mandated a division of administrative and policy-making roles, called for a City Administrator to make day-to-day management decisions including those involving personnel. Maderak said it was time that business made its voice heard in demanding a better city government; he was upset that the City Council was meddling in personnel matters. The Council had fired Medin, the first permanent City Administrator, after he refused to appoint a patronage choice for fire chief.
Maderak secured several members who met that summer in the Conference Center at Kansas City, Kansas, Community College for an organizational session. That fall, Bob Mayer, the Community Development Director of the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce led the group in establishing its goals and objectives in a meeting at what was then Guaranty State Bank.
The first set of officers were elected. Maderak was the Chairman of the Board; Larry Becker of Guaranty State Bank was President; Jack Delap, a Realtor, was Vice President; Murell Bland, the Publisher of the Wyandotte West newspaper, was Secretary; and Charlotte Penson, a Realtor, was Treasurer. DeLap developed the initial set of bylaws.
The basic goals were to be an advocate and problem solver for business and to promote quality residential and commercial development. Those same basic goals remain today.
Business West was the lead origination in sponsoring “Opportunity Days” for area graduating college seniors. The visiting students received a bus tour of Wyandotte County, had lunch at the Reardon Convention Center and then attended a job fair. The goal was to attract young professionals to the community.
During the early and mid-1990s, the Opportunity Knocks Committee of Business West met nearly every Friday to help promote residential development in West Wyandotte County. This was a period when there was very little activity in the new housing area. However, by 2005, Wyandotte County saw residential building activity that rivaled the post-war boom period during the 1950s.
Business West supported the consolidation of city and county government that voters approved in 1997. The next few years marked a renaissance in West Wyandotte County with the development of the Kansas Speedway and several retail attractions in Village West including the Legends lifestyle center, Nebraska Furniture Mart and Cabela’s, an outdoor outfitter.
In the early 2000s, Business West began to focus on the State Avenue corridor. The area needed a master plan and the road needed physical improvements. The medians needed to be modified so the area would be more development-friendly.
Today, the State Avenue Corridor Planning Committee of Business West continues to lobby for a master plan and a benefit district that would finance improvement. Maderak is chairman of the committee.
Business West now has more than 70 members, mostly small businesses in the 66111 and 66112 Zip Code Areas; however, any interested organization or individual is welcome.