Economic Development News

Business expansions continue in 2017
From the Chamber's 2017 Annual Report
Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018
By: Shaun Sappenfield

Expansion activity continued to deliver investment and new jobs to our community in 2017 as a result of continued growth from a handful of large employers within our community.  The Chamber’s existing business program, established in 2007, is constantly engaging with local employers to identify expansion opportunities for sustainable job growth and the retention of current employment levels as well.  As the economic recovery continues, companies are making capital investments and adding jobs to keep pace with the economy’s growth.  At the same time, companies are also investing in automation, consolidating operations, identifying merger opportunities and buying out competitors to gain market share.  Even in times of economic growth our community must continue to encourage and support existing businesses as they identify growth opportunities, improve efficiencies, and make investments in labor and equipment.

The Chamber’s existing business outreach program, which conducted over 150 site visits in 2017, continually engages the business community to identify growth opportunities and/or issues affecting their business.  As the local economy continues to expand across most all business sectors, employers are feeling the effects of a labor shortage which stifles a businesses’ ability to service and expand its customer base.  The deficiency has reached employers of all sizes and has not discriminated against any one skill level.  

To offer some insight into the growth of the area’s larger employers, four of the community’s larger employers are currently increasing the number of full-time employees in addition to capital investment at their facility.  In 2017, four employers collectively increased their employment base by 354 new jobs and invested $8.6 million real and personal property (204 of these jobs were added in 2017).  The net new payroll of all new positions is estimated to be $12.5 million. 

Since 2007, the Chamber’s existing business program has worked aggressively to facilitate opportunities for growth by focusing their efforts on projects that have a higher capacity to create multiple jobs, taxable real/personal private investment and lead to sustainable long-term economic benefits to the community.  Within this time period, the Chamber has assisted in the facilitation of 41 expansion projects by area manufacturers (some companies having multiple expansions) equating to just over 1669 net new jobs, with an estimated total payroll of plus $54.6 million (est. average wage per new job = $32,714). 

In 2017, Cole County’s average yearly unemployment rate was 3.0 percent, as compared to Missouri’s yearly average of 3.5 percent.  In 2010, Cole County’s average yearly unemployment rate was 6.9 percent, and since that time the rate has withered by 3.9 percent.  

As the economy continues to expand, we must support local expansion opportunities along with maintaining our efforts to attract new business as the private sector will provide the mostly likely opportunities for increases in employment.  In addition, we as a community must continue to invest in the areas of infrastructure, schools, recreational amenities, and public safety to retain and attract a quality workforce.  Economic growth within a community is not facilitated by one entity or organization; it takes a multi-pronged approach by both the public and private sector to provide the resources and assets required by businesses to grow.  Continued economic growth is attainable, and we must view our community’s economic development efforts with a long term view point.

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