Kemper project receives statewide recognition

- The Kemper Military School Redevelopment Project, Boonville, is the winner of a statewide award for business excellence.
The project received a 2013 Excellence in Business Award from the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers (MO SBTDC) and Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (MO PTAC) at a gala banquet in Jefferson City, Mo., on Jan. 30. The firm also received legislative resolutions at the Missouri Capitol from Senator Sen. Kurt Schaefer, District 19, and Rep. Dave Muntzel, District 48.
The Kemper Military School Redevelopment Project is one of 22 outstanding Missouri economic development projects that received the award. The annual awards recognize outstanding achievement in business management, government contracting, job creation and revenue generation by client firms of the two programs.
"Kemper Military School Redevelopment Project: Repurposing historic structures, maintaining community values" was previously recognized by the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) with its 2012 Award of Excellence. UEDA says this harmonious, multi-industry, community-centered approach advocates smart growth, community involvement and betterment while retaining historic structures and the community's civic and spatial values, serving as a template for other towns and cities struggling to survive while preserving their history.
The Kemper Military School Redevelopment Project is an imaginative repurposing of the Kemper Military School, Boonville, which closed in 2002. Through a series of sessions and meetings with college administrators and city officials, a partnership emerged to open a new State Fair Community College campus on the Kemper grounds, which is expected to draw hundreds of students and create up to 100 part- or full-time jobs.
Ten beautiful, neocolonial buildings, including red-brick academic halls, a gracious president's home and large residence halls, sat vacant. The city purchased the campus in 2003 to prevent its destruction but over time, the buildings fell into disrepair, roofs sagged and portions of the campus were surrounded by high wire fencing. A large tower atop the administrative building collapsed in 2010.
That same year, Boonville Mayor Julie Thacher reached out to Jim Gann, director of technology business development at the MU Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, housed with the MU SBTDC and funded by EDA, which emphasizes helping economically distressed communities. The loss of the school also cost the city its sole institution of higher education as hundreds of cadets and positions for instructors and administrative support staff were eliminated.
Gann facilitated a series of community stakeholder meetings and initiated research into historic preservation, realistic tenants and community needs. He facilitated strategic development sessions and town hall meetings with city residents and other concerned stakeholders. He also offered advice on getting buildings up to code for educational, recreational, hotel and housing purposes and facilitated meetings with higher education executives.
After collaborative input, an innovative proposal emerged: offer Kemper and its redeveloped facilities to higher educational institutions as an open, plug-and-play campus. The city had already converted some campus green space to football, baseball and other playing fields and leased a building to the Boonslick Heartland YMCA. The former Kemper library building, Math Hall, could be renovated quickly; the city-maintained playing fields offered athletic facilities; and the YMCA boasted a full-sized pool, gym and childcare. Gann facilitated negotiations with State Fair Community College and other institutions to use the campus, and State Fair classes began in the fall of 2012.
Gann and the city are considering further educational and other proposals, such as food, entertainment and lodging entities. While there is still much redevelopment to do, more improvements are in the works, and new tenants are being reviewed for suitability and best fit to fully rejuvenate the campus, maintain its historic appeal and attract more investment.
The MO SBTDC and MO PTAC are a statewide network of business technical assistance providers and educators who serve Missouri businesses with consultation and training in the areas of management, marketing, international trade, financial management, government contracting, technology commercialization and market research.
For more information, go to Or call Mary Paulsell, director of communications, at 573/882-1353 or