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Cerner honored at Look North Banquet

Cerner’s three founders and more than 14,000 employees were honored Wednesday night for their impact that is both local and global.

The Clay County Economic Development Council’s Look North Leadership Banquet awarded its first corporate honor to the locally headquartered healthcare information technology company that is the fastest growing firm in Missouri.

Associated Industries of Missouri president Ray McCarty and the chairman of the AIM Board of Directors Tony Reinhart attended the banquet. Cerner is an AIM Circle of Elite Organizations member.

Julie Wilson, senior vice president and chief people officer for Cerner Corp., accepted the honor before more than 230 people at Harrah’s North Kansas City. She noted Cerner’s success is built on a combination of factors that include entrepreneurial drive and a passion for its dynamic industry.

“We wake up every morning at the intersection of health care and technology,” she said, quoting co-founder Neal Patterson. “It’s fun. It’s a little busy, but it’s fun.”

Wilson noted that of Cerner’s $1.5 billion payroll, approximately $400 million finds its way to Clay County. Of Cerner’s 9,000 Kansas City metropolitan associates, about half work in the Northland.

Maintaining that high quality workforce is critical, not just for Cerner but for the region. “What keeps me up at night is continuing to attract high-quality people,” Wilson said. “Maintaining that pipeline of talent is the big challenge for the future.”

Wilson said the challenge will increase because of pressures such as worldwide competition and changing technology. “We’ll need a greater diversity of talent,” she said. “Think about the pace of change that we’re seeing now. Some of the technologies we rely on didn’t even exist two years ago. We’re working now to fill jobs that don’t exist today.” Such demands are among the reasons that Cerner conducts and participates in education and internship programs such as Cerner Scholars and the Northland CAPS.

Attracting quality workforce was also a key feature in the presentation of the Clay County Strategic Planning Initiative. Co-Chair Greg Canuteson said creation of a world-class business environment is both a goal and a means to other ends.

“Building a world-class economic environment will help grow our economy and lead us to more job growth and quality of life,” he said. “If we’re able to do that, we believe we can achieve our mission.”

EDC Chair Tony Reinhart noted Clay County already has a good economic mix, including technology firms such as Cerner and leading manufacturing companies such as Ford. “There’s a lot of activity in and around Clay County and we need to tap into that,” he said.

The Strategic Plan will target creation and attraction of 50 new companies and 5,000 jobs over the next 10 years. In coming months, action teams will be assembled to focus on areas such as targeted industries, targeted facilities, quality of life, entrepreneurial culture and business development.

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