ince Matthew Tapp stepped in as the new executive director of the Platte County Economic Development Council last month, he has been surprised by the fundamental difference of running a non-for-profit.
Previously, Tapp worked as the director of economic development in Raymore, a city of about 21,780, which is governed by a board of aldermen and mayor. Tapp has also worked in community planning and zoning and real estate development.
But the administration of those positions did not demand the same level of responsibility or wide variety of duties that running a 501c3 non-profit requires. The not-for-profit, which does economic development work, is a member-based organization that depends heavily on membership dues to pay for operational expenses.
“When you are an executive director of a non-profit you wear numerous hats,” said Tapp.
The Platte County EDC is governed by an executive committee and board of directors, with a chairman, vice chairman, secretary and treasurer. Membership levels start at $600.
Despite this difference, Tapp is thrilled to work in such a dynamic role, tasked with bringing new development to Platte County.
The non-profit is quite small, consisting of two additional full-time staffers, including a business and member outreach manager named Stephanie Deppen, and a new marketing and public relations manager who will begin next week.
Tapp said what initially attracted him to this role was his strong desire to contribute to his community, as well as the accomplishments of Alicia Stephens, who retired in September as Platte County EDC’s second executive director.
“It’s a pretty tight-knit community of economic development professionals and I have known Stephens for many years,” said Tapp. “It is also a great opportunity to work closer to home and have a positive impact on my friends and neighbors.”
Matt earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and an accreditation from the American Institute of Certified Planners. Adding to that, he is working toward his economic development certification.
Since taking over as the executive director on Sept. 23, the biggest hurdle has been facing the realization that attracting new development comes down to numbers.
“When we are dealing with developers, one of the first questions they ask relates to the population in and around the proposed development,” said Tapp.
This is largely due to the fact that most people frequent businesses that are near their place of residence.
“There is a misperception that Platte County is bigger than it really is,” said Tapp. “Whenever I talk with my friends or folks from the Northland they say, ‘Oh yeah, Platte County is growing rapidly!’ of course, it is, but most people don’t realize that Platte County is less than half the population of Clay County. So, we have to build up those rooftops to attract substantial projects.”
At the same time, Tapp plans to attract “brand-new, sparkling clean, beautiful offices.”
“I really want to work at attracting more professional offices to Platte County,” added Tapp. “2020 is all about elevating the profile of Platte County—getting the word out that this is a great place to live, work and play!”
One of the first impactful business developments Tapp can report on is a new company, called R.U. Game.com. The company, which is the largest supplier of board games, plans on opening a new warehouse/distribution center on the east side of Interstate 29, said Tapp. The Economic Development Council of Kansas City was a critical component in attracting this business to our area.
Another important undertaking on the horizon is Zona Rosa. Although Tapp can’t provide specifics at this time, he understands the new owners have big plans for massive improvements and upgrades to the mixed-use shopping area.
As for the recreational and play element in Platte County, Tapp is excited the commission recently re-pledged $17 million in public improvements linked to the $42 million Northland Sports Complex at Twin Creeks.
“The Northland Sports Complex is the very important first spark catalyst to get major projects to happen there,” said Tapp. The plan calls for 12 synthetic turf soccer fields with lighting. One field will be a stadium field with grandstand and expansion seating.
“Along with the sports complex, we are actively pursuing developers for a vibrant mixed-use town center nearby.”