Chairman's Message

August/September 2017

Stronger Together - Better Every Day      

Last weekend my husband and I had the opportunity to travel with four of my brothers and sisters and their spouses to Nashville to listen to one of our local bands perform. “Shiloh” did a great job and central Missouri was well represented in their support of these local performers getting nice recognition for their talents with a chance to play in Music City. The music was great, the venue was fun, but traveling with family and friends is priceless!

With 7 months of this term completed I found a difference on this trip; I was observing the growth of another city through the eyes of someone who has had the opportunity to be part of the interesting discussions we’re having here in Jefferson City.

On our road trip we passed an Ohio River port, and it brought visions of what we might see in our future. When we speak of the Port Project, we are often asked if it will have a marina where the private boater can buy fuel or if it will be connected to the riverfront we envision next to the city.  Frankly, the Port as we envision it will probably do neither; but it will provide a place for barges to load and unload large amounts of cargo (envision a number of lift cranes), access to rail and highway, space to store those off loaded shipping containers until they are needed by local manufacturers or they are re-loaded onto trucks or rail cars to destinations not served by a river.   The feasibility study for the port we envision is being funded through a cooperative effort of Callaway County, Cole County, Jefferson City and the Chamber. This is a two part study and we are just beginning the work with the consultant. Final report is expected in early November. Good work team.

In another location on our travels, we noted the lack of staff impacted the speed with which we were served. An extra beverage and a lively conversation helped the wait but what I noticed was that the destination had the space, the ambiance, but not the staff to serve the number of customers they were experiencing. We are seeing that same issue locally, and to that end our workforce team continues to roll out the action plan.  This month you’ll see the Chamber’s website changes include job openings, a successful model used by other Chambers to facilitate the hiring process of their members.  Additionally, planning is underway for the first ever high school counselor’s tour of work opportunities for the high school graduate. We want those who are assisting the graduating senior to know more about what this area has to offer in terms of steady employment with a decent wage and benefits. There is more to this action plan and we’ll keep you informed as it unfolds.

Summer is always the time for lots of construction, both highway and commercial and that was true in our destination city just as it is here. Construction projects coupled with the expansion of a business is a double win for an economy. There are jobs in the construction industry and jobs in the expanded business venture. We saw evidence of growing interest in the downtown area in Nashville and it takes just a quick drive east of our Capital to see evidence of revitalization in the East Capital/MSP area.  We sometimes hear that it takes too long to get moving on projects but look and you’ll see movement.  Teamwork by our state, city and county officials is vital to creation of the best plan for that area and as a Chamber we look forward to facilitating the exploration of economic development options.  Expansion of industrial sites is also good for our economy and there are several expansions in the progress here in Jefferson City that the Chamber has facilitated incentive discussions on. An article on this topic is included in today’s edition.

Just like in our city, retail plays a large part in the visitor and resident’s experience for the city we visited. As I mentioned in my previous article, the retail definition includes grocery stores, dining, bars/beverage locations, shopping for goods, entertainment, etc.  Retail is also personal.  We’ve learned that it is not just the number of retailers you offer, but also the caliber of the offering. The individual holds the purchasing power and has all the choice in where to spend their earned dollar. We want those dollars to stay local but it doesn’t just happen. We want to see new businesses open, but we also recognize that there is strong competition for new retailer’s to choose our city.  Almost every city wants to be known as a “retail destination”. The Chamber is currently conducting a survey of our retail members to determine how best to facilitate ongoing growth and the attraction of new types of retail businesses.  We’ll first share the results of that survey with a team of members who have stepped forward to define next steps. Thank you to those who volunteered to serve on our Retail Strategies committee.

My husband and I agree, it’s good to see some of this great country, even better when spent with family that makes you laugh, but it’s always good to see home when we turn down the road to our farm.  This area is blessed in the number of local activities we have, but if you find the end of summer offers you the opportunity to travel to other areas, take a moment and compare their progress and their journey with ours. Visit a local gathering place and ask some questions about their progress. If you find a great idea, please share it. We are better when we are stronger together. Where I work, we call that  Better. Every day.

 

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