Local Office Blogs

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October 20, 2020

In the latest CBIZ Executive Advantage Series held on October 13th, 2020, we were joined virtually by Mayor Quinton Lucas of the City of Kansas City, MO. Well into a fascinating first year as the 55th Mayor of Kansas City, MO, Mayor Lucas held an open and honest conversation with us regarding topics such as COVID-19, schools, housing, infrastructure, and diversity. Despite 2020 being the year no one expected, Mayor Lucas remains optimistic and hopeful for the future of Kansas City.

Since this pandemic began, KC has issued a mask mandate and restaurants in the area have adapted their operations to keep everyone as safe as possible. As a community, he mentions that we still have the ability to support KC businesses through these challenging times by promoting them online. However, there are still some industries where large groups remain a concern such as arenas and concert venues. The biggest concern is how to keep everyone safe when gathering in large venues. 

In addition to these venues, there has also been concern among the public with schools re-opening. Local districts decided to close in the spring with the intention to reopen once fall semester began, however, the pandemic has lasted longer and brought with it several unforeseen challenges.  Mayor Lucas mentions that schools have been doing everything they can to help support students. One example of that is through premade lunches delivered using the school bus or at central sites. Districts continue to remain hopeful to return to in person learning in the future when there is sufficient testing available. An idea the Mayor has based on testing is to introduce the idea of broad-based testing that will select a random sample group to test for the virus and if any of the tests come back positive, they would then test all of the students. This idea helps to reduce the number of tests required initially and test the masses more efficiently. Navigating the education sector will be challenging as the future is still unknown.

Another sector in KC that has been experiencing change is the housing market. KC has an attractive up and coming market for buyers that other places don’t have and is a place where companies can grow and thrive. At the moment, there are more luxury apartments than moderately priced housing due to the dramatic income differences. The plan down the road is to create a future where there is accessibility at all income levels.

In the coming years, the street car and airport will provide increased real estate value and bring new business ventures to KC. The new airport is set to open in 2023 - just in time for the NFL draft!  There have currently been 450 jobs created and that number is set to increase to 1,200 workers in the spring of 2021. When asked if the pandemic has changed any of the designs or plans, he replied that the goal of the design was already to create more space and that development is still on time and on budget. Also set for completion by 2023, the street car will be extended from River Market to Brush Creek. Given significant federal grants for this expansion project, the hope is that this will increase real estate value to those communities as well as bring in new jobs, tenants, and tourists. These aren’t the only changes that Mayor Lucas wants to see in the community.

Mayor Lucas wants to challenge KC to increase their retention and board or civic involvement opportunities for people of color. KC has a rich community of people of color and it is important that we as a community continue to be forward thinking and inclusive for those individuals. We need to listen to one another and have discussions rather than have one-off conversations. We all come from diverse backgrounds and we should recognize new ways to get things done such as positive reinforcement. Now KC, “Take the ball and run with it”.

KC has changed a lot in 2020, but COVID-19 is not going to stop us from moving in the right direction. The current state of schools, homes, and infrastructures are good indicators of the positive economy we currently have. There’s so much we still don’t know about the future, but we are still a community that is moving forward with what we are given.

Watch the entire recording here, and find out what other updates that Mayor Lucas discusses with our team. To register for the next CBIZ Executive Advantage Series event, please email kcevents@CBIZ.com

March 19, 2020

Looking to support local companies? Our latest entrepreneur, FlipSwitch VR, has a location in the Crossroads and the owners are KC natives as well. More information on this company can be found below:

FlipSwitch VR

Jim and Jamie Mahoney, dad & son duo, are the founders of FlipSwitch VR. With a background in mechanical and architectural engineering, the duo wanted to create a complete immersion experience for their audience. When starting the business in 2017, both had no gaming development knowledge. They reached out to local college students to help with programing and other aspects of the game development. However, once they created the interface, they faced challenges with tracking movement and motion sickness. Once these items were resolved, the game was ready for opening day in 2018. Today, their location offers a free-roaming, multi-player gaming experience with escape room, skeleton v pirate, zombie fighting, and paintball games. Find out more about FlipSwitch VR here.

Read about our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email kcevents@cbiz.com.

December 20, 2019

Happy holidays! Our winter lineup of entrepreneurs were full of holly, jolly cheer this quarter. These organizations have done more than their fair share to be on the nice list. More information on these companies can be found below:

Hello Big Idea

Ashley is the founder and creative director at Hello Big Idea. A former high school business teacher and self-taught designer, Ashley is passionate about helping fellow creative entrepreneurs follow their dreams. Just like any big idea, hers is truly a labor of hard work and dedication, created through lots of late nights, countless bottles of wine, and a good amount of networking and strategizing. Hello Big Idea has helped hundreds of clients take their business from an idea to a thriving brand. Their small and mighty team of designers, strategists, writers, photographers and videographers take on a range of projects – from brand identities to social media strategy to website design and so much more. Find out more about Hello Big Idea here.


Robin is the owner of Robin Leach Global Consulting & Health Products. After years in the Mutual Fund & Construction Industries, she decided to follow her passion into Health & Healing with Natural Products. Robin & her team have helped hundreds of clients feel better and heal from ailments they've suffered with for years. She is an Independent Affiliate for one of the top CBD Brands in the country - Hempworx. Find out more about Hempwrox here.

Roby Jean’s

Ruby Jean’s Juicery is a local shop owned by Chris Goode. They specialize in selling cold-pressed juices and smoothies, along with healthy food options at Ruby Jean’s Kitchen and Juicery. Chris’ grandmother, Ruby Jean, helped raise him. Throughout his childhood, his grandmother would make homemade meals rich with butter and sugar. After his grandmother and great grand-mother passed away from diseases related to their diets, Chris decided that he wanted to create change. Chris opened Ruby Jean’s, because he wanted people to be healthy. He wants to promote a healthy diet and lifestyle for people in the Kansas City metro area one healthy drink at a time. Find out more about Roby Jean’s here.

Read about our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email kcevents@cbiz.com.

October 25, 2019

Recently, CBIZ hosted its fourth quarter Executive Advantage Series (EAS), Unlocking the Unseen Potential in Kansas City. The event took place at the CBIZ offices on the Kansas City Plaza.

Dennis Strait, AIA, ASLA is a landscape architect and the Managing Principal of the Kansas City Studio of Gould Evans. Strait brought his 37 years of industry experience to CBIZ to discuss development in Kansas City, Missouri – how we have developed historically, what we can anticipate for the future, and what steps we can take to curb the affordable housing crisis that is now beleaguering the East and West coasts.

Strait first placed Kansas City’s development into the context of broad national trends, beginning with the 1700s and ending with present day. Along the way, he described the rising popularity of home ownership, particularly with the advent of the 30-year mortgage in the 1930s, and the trend of plotting larger and larger parcels of real estate as the proliferation of cars and the development of the Interstate Highway System increased private citizens’ mobility.

Single family homes boast larger yards than ever before and Strait attributes this fact to the invention of the car and homeowners’ willingness to stretch their daily commute further and further. He shared some surprising figures with the EAS audience: In 1950 Kansas City, Missouri occupied 81 square miles hosted approximately 457,000 residents. In 2019 the city has grown to 319 square miles and 492,000 residents. The city has quadrupled in size and shown only marginal population growth. “To put it another way,” Strait said, “each of us has four times as much city to maintain.”

Why is this a problem?

In Kansas City we have enough streets that with the same amount of road you could start in New York City, pave a lane all the way to San Francisco and back and then pave a new lane up to Canada and back to New York City. If we rebuilt our city today, it would take $4.9 billion just to re-make the roads. Assuming roads are meant to last approximately 50 years with regular maintenance, this means Kansas City should be allocating $100 million tax dollars to road maintenance every year. The 2019 street budget is $16 million.

How does this all come together?

An average suburban home is responsible for 135 linear feet of street or, using the same road maintenance estimates referenced above, $657 per year for street preservation. A similarly sized plot of urban real estate is associated with 3.7 linear feet of street - $17.91 per year for street preservation. In the context of street maintenance alone, Kansas City will turn a profit on the apartment building and take a heavy loss on the suburban home – and yet Kansas City continues to grant tax incentives to developers who continue to exacerbate the tax deficit.

Strait concludes that urban development – small parcels of real estate generating tax revenue rather than large single-family homes – is the only way to get ahead of the affordable housing crisis and increase property tax revenues. If Kansas City changes the way it evaluates and incentivizes development opportunities by looking at the long term financial opportunities, we can ensure a bright and affordable future for all Kansas Citians.

Thank you to all our 2019 EAS attendees! We look forward to our 2020 EAS events and will release details soon. Ideas for future EAS events? Email kcevents@cbiz.com  

October 16, 2019

On Thursday, October 10th, Ivanka Trump, Advisor to the President, joined HHS Secretary, Alex Azar, in a senior leadership roundtable on supporting working families in Kansas City. The panel was sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Governor Michael Parson and Senator Roy Blunt, both of Missouri, also participated in the listening tour to gather information from parents, child care providers, employers and state officials. The goal of the panel was to “gather information on innovative solutions to improve working families’ access to affordable, high-quality child care, as well as investigating how access to child care affects America’s workforce, present and future.”

Carolyn Watley, CBIZ Employee Benefits Vice President of Community Engagement, was invited to join the panel of Kansas City leaders.  Carolyn spoke about how employers can support working parents and offer benefit programs that help attract and retain talent in the workforce. Additionally, Carolyn highlighted our CBIZ offerings and work with our employee benefit clients in supporting working families. Carolyn was also representing the Greater KC Chamber as Vice Chair and emphasized the need to support our caregivers so that parents can be productive members of our workforce. Ensuring this level of support would help fill the many open positions that supports our economy and fuels regional growth.

October 1, 2019

This year’s Country Club Plaza Art Fair was full of life and color this past week! Our neighbors, the Country Club Plaza hosts their annual Art Fair the third weekend after Labor Day and every year guests come and enjoy local musicians, craft food and drinks, and contemporary art for everyone young and old!



CBIZ & MHM alongside EFL Associates were thrilled to host our annual Art Fair Social at our offices on the Plaza before the Art Fair began. We welcomed over 150 guests who enjoyed tasty treats provided by Plaza staple, Capital Grille and enjoyed the musical talents of Calvin Arsenia —a well-known local musician .



To round out the night we were pleased to offer guests a chance to win an exclusive 2019 Plaza Art Fair Banner (designed by local artists) and a record of Calvin Arsenia’s newest album.



As always, we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity of welcoming each of our guests to our annual art fair social and thank each of you who were able to make it and hope to see everyone again next year at our Plaza Art Fair Social!


September 16, 2019

As summer cools down, our fall lineup of entrepreneurs are warming up started. Satisfying consumers unique needs are what both of these organizations pride themselves on by offering their clients a high quality product that it sure to deliver. More information on these companies can be found below:


ProAthlete is an online B2C retailer that sells baseball bats and gloves since 1987. They weren’t always an online retailer, they started with brick and mortar stores in Parkville, MO (just up north over the river) and switched to an online based company shortly after they realized that they can reach far more customers than their brick and mortar store could. ProAthlete has a single tiered organizational structure (everybody is a manger), reduced their employee count to no more than 48 employees, has been named a heathiest employer in KC for six straight years, and offers their employees flexible work arrangements and many amenities on site as well. Their focus is solely on baseball bats and gloves, however, their competitive advantage is their shipping and customization services. Find out more about ProAthlete here.


Swappa is a B2C used technology online reseller that opened in 2010. The firm started when the owner had a bad experience with purchasing a used cell phone. Their policy is that no junk is allowed and all listings go through an in-depth review process before buyers are allowed to view the product. With having majority of their employees working from home, it has allowed them to expand their platform to include “local swap spots” that make selling products much faster than waiting for it to be shipped. Swappa is a platform for more than just cellphones; they also sell screen protectors, camera, laptops, and other small electronic devices too. Find out more about Swappa here.

Read about our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email kcevents@cbiz.com.

September 16, 2019

This past week, we were thrilled to host a benefit cocktail event in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and to promote CBIZ's sponsored tent at their annual fundraising event, Light the Night Walk on September 14th. The cocktail hour included a variety of signature cocktails which attendees got to sample and cast their vote for their favorite cocktail. The winning cocktail will be featured at our sponsored tent at Light the Night.


In addition to great cocktails and treats we were grateful to hear from LLS Survivor, Laura Hollar and learning about her personal battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in an inspirational presentation, as well as learning more about all the amazing work LLS does for its patients, survivors, and families. 


A big thank you to Kendra Scott for her pop-up store and a big congratulations to the raffle and silent auction winners! We were thrilled to raise close to $2,000 for this amazing organization.


And the winning cocktail? You had to have stop by the CBIZ tent at Light the Night to see! There's still time to support this organization! Click here for more information about Light the Night, to donate, or for more ways to get involved.

July 24, 2019
Play Hard, Play Safe

As adults, nothing draws us back to our childhood more than spending time on a playground, a swimming pool or ball fields. We are reminded of the 12’ metal slide and the ladder leading to the launch position, or the massive concrete hole filled with water, boasting two diving boards; a 3’ low dive and a 12’ high dive and a filtration system providing suspect water quality. Most memorable in my mind are the different athletic fields/courts containing miles of chain-link fencing, uneven playing surfaces, and lack of lighting. In my youth, each was constructed and operated predominantly by municipalities or school districts with some private enterprise.

Recreational societal evolution has changed. Municipalities and school districts remain primary operators, but over time there has been an insurgence of private enterprise adding these amenities to their properties and marketing efforts. With the increase in these facilities has come a spotlight that shines directly on the owner to ensure—whatever the facility is—be managed to control the overwhelming exposure that this equipment creates. To borrow General Motors marketing slogan; “This is not your Father’s Buick”.

The objective of this series is to raise awareness of exposures associated with recreational equipment and some best practices that can be implemented to mitigate the exposure, increase safety, and reduce litigation. This week, we take a look at pool safety and how we can minimize risks and avoid injury. Please note, this article is not intended to be a catch all of all dangers, exposures, and controls.

Aquatic Activities

Swimming pools and aquatic centers are beacons of fun, with children and adults alike logging plenty of splash time during hot summer and cold winter months. Outdoor municipal pools have given way to aquatic centers – both indoor and outdoor, splash parks, and HOA operated swimming pools. At one time, operators only had to concern themselves with the possible risks of diving boards and slides. Now, that risk has expanded with new equipment features such as tubes, open spiral slides, and zip lines, climbing structures, and even heightened water quality.

In many respects, pools are safer today then of years past. Awareness has been substantially heightened and the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) has been established. Guidelines have been developed and implemented. Having noted this, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that from 2005–2014, there were on average 3,536 drowning deaths per year. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports 4,900 people received emergency care for injuries suffered in a swimming pool or spa in each of 2011, 2012, and 2013.

It is worth noting that no pool or spa should be operated that is not in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, also referred to P&SS Act. The P&SS was enacted by Congress and became law effective December 19, 2008. A PDF of the act can be found here. This law is designed to prevent the tragic and hidden hazards of drain entrapment and eviscerations in pools and spas.

Pool equipment exposures can be managed following a few key best practice methods:

  • Develop an inspection schedule of the facility noting surface irregularities, damaged attractions, and appropriate lighting. Attractions taken out of service, as needed to correct deficiencies.
  • Establish water quality testing protocol for both pools and spas that requires water to be tested every four hours, and hourly for heavier use. Chlorine levels should be maintained between 1-3 parts per million and pH levels kept between 7.2-7.8. Record and store all test results.
  • Establish a policy and procedure to respond to fecal and vomit incidents. Document and store testing data and response efforts.
  • Post rules and regulations at the pool entrance with appropriate phone number to report deficiencies. Pools with different attractions should have rules posted pursuant to specific equipment. An Age limit requirement must be established to enter facility without adult supervision.
  •  Swimming pools with no Life Guard supervision should have signage indicating so, and age limits established requiring adult supervision.
  • Swimming pools with Life Guard supervision should have certification process in place and credentialing done by the American Red Cross or other reputable organizations. A Policy should be in place and enforced that prohibits Life Guards from having personal cell phones or any other personal communication device or music player on their person while in the chair supervising swimmers.
  • Water depth markings should be prominently displayed on the pool deck and no diving enforced.
  • A life ring and shepherd hook should be available and located in close proximity to the pool or spa.
  • An Emergency Action Plan in place and practiced to respond to inclement weather or a water borne lifesaving event.

Swimming pools, aquatic centers, and splash parks can be great fun for all ages; safely enjoyed with adult supervision. In this extremely litigious culture we find ourselves, just remember, “This is not your Father’s Buick”. Play Hard, play safe!

In our next issue, we’ll look at the safety and liabilities of playgrounds, skate parks, and athletic fields.

July 19, 2019

Not Just a Game: KC Sports Reduce Crime & Drive Economic Growth

On Thursday, June 27th CBIZ hosted its third quarter Executive Advantage Series, The Business of Sports: Innovations for Future Generations. The event took place in the historical 18th & Vine District at the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy.

The Academy project was announced in the summer of 2013 and opened its doors to local youths in 2017. The Academy promotes training, education, and character development through the practice of baseball and softball. Interestingly, Kansas City, Missouri leaders were eager to support the Academy for a reason that surprised the project’s manager, Kansas City Royals Senior Director of Baseball Operations, Kyle Vena.

“I did not envision reducing crime or the economic impact behind this,” Vena explained at the Q3 EAS event, “but what the City got behind immediately was having activity going on in the summer during the evening. When there is a city event going on, giving kids places to be productive and to enjoy themselves, crime drops 21%.”

This, according to Vena, was why the city invested so heavily in the Urban Youth Academy, and why the Academy is a Kansas City Parks & Recreation facility.

Kathy Nelson, President and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission, spoke to the EAS audience about other ways that sports have been good to our city. Nelson successfully led the initiative to make Kansas City a host of the NFL Draft, which will be coming to our city in 2023. Next, she has set her sights on the World Cup for 2026.

“If we were to host matches,” Nelson told the crowd, “it could be the equivalent of $620M coming into the city, comparable to six Super Bowls in one month. It will change Kansas City.”

Jake Reid, CEO of Sporting KC, spoke about homegrown soccer. “In the academy system if you come up through the academy you don’t have to do a draft. You just get signed. The entire youth soccer program is based out of Swope Soccer Village. At some point in the next 5-7 years we would love six to eight players who are homegrown.”

Tyler Epp, VP of Business Development for the Kansas City Chiefs, was persuaded to talk just briefly about record-breaking quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who recently decided to buy a house and settle down in Kansas City permanently. “Before he bought the house I was with him and he said that he hoped the community would appreciate the fact that he loves living here. He said, ‘I love living here, I want to live here, this is my kind of place.’”

The ways in which Kansas City sports are improving the city are too many to cover in a single evening’s presentation. However, other topics covered were sports camps that foster STEM learning, sports betting, the evolution of sports technology, and major league sports’ continued effort to expand internationally.

Don't miss out on the next Executive Advantage Series event on October 10, 2019. More details to come for the topic, when, and where. Please email kcevents@CBIZ.com for any additional questions.


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