Economic Development Strategies

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Leaders in Jefferson City-Cole County have decided that the community must raise efforts to a higher level for a future of positive change and progress, as near stagnant population and employment growth have recently defined the local economy. The community has a wide-range of competitive assets and economic strengths that it can build on to foster stronger, more sustainable economic health in the future.

Knowing that the Jefferson City community is capable of success at a much higher level, the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce embarked on the pursuit of an Economic Development Strategic Plan - under the banner of "Progress Jefferson City" - by engaging the assistance of Market Street Services, a national economic and workforce development consulting firm headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

This document - the Economic Development Strategic Plan - is the result of extensive qualitative and quantitative research conducted by Market Street regarding Jefferson City-Cole County's demographics, economy, and business climate competitiveness. Via the analysis of recent statistics and a community input process that included almost 200 participants, Market Street identified the key needs and opportunities of the community. Market Street's research process also included the identification of four business sector groupings to prioritize for targeted growth: Manufacturing, Health Care, Finance and Insurance, and Design and Marketing Services.1

The target business sectors, as well as other opportunities for growth and development identified by Market Street, are addressed in the following seven objectives and action steps that comprise this Economic Development Strategic Plan.  Only by pursuing the actions necessary for strengthening Jefferson City's assets, raising awareness of its attractions, and taking advantage of available opportunities, can the community achieve the progress of which it is capable. Most importantly, all leaders and citizens interested in a strong future for Jefferson City-Cole County must embrace a spirit of positive change, and can achieve this by making a commitment to the timely implementation of the seven objectives. Combined, these objectives will help Jefferson City achieve the following primary goals:

  • Diversify and strengthen the local economy
  • Attract, retain, and develop a competitive workforce
  • Strengthen local leadership and regional partnerships

 Certain action steps in this strategy focus on the means by which Jefferson City can enhance its connections within Central Missouri; the community would also benefit from maintaining a more general commitment to regionalism.

 Businesses and educational institutions do not constrict themselves by city or county boundaries when hiring workers or matriculating students. To keep pace with that reality, local economic developers must consider their communities in the context of a wider region. As many community input participants in this process said, for Jefferson City-Cole County to get ahead in job growth opportunities, it must partner with its neighbors and operate on a more regional level, as many other communities in the State of Missouri have done. 

Workforce development is also a top-level goal, because it has increasingly become a factor of paramount importance to relocating, expanding, and start-up businesses.  Without the workforce to fulfill the needs of existing and prospective employers, Jefferson City cannot begin to grow its economy. The research process found that Jefferson City has a tight labor market - evidenced by its relatively low unemployment and high labor force participation rates - illustrating the importance of growing a workforce skilled for the most in-demand occupations in the community.

 Finally, the goals include the need to diversity and strengthen the local economy.  Jefferson City-Cole County's large number of public sector jobs (about one in three of total employment) is an asset, but it can also be a liability for sustaining an economic balance. As a State Capital, the local economy is too susceptible to State job cuts or government salaries that do not keep pace with the annual increase in cost of living.  Thus, it is imperative that the community strengthen its private sector job opportunities.

 The seven objectives in this Economic Development Strategic Plan are:

Progress Jefferson City Objectives
1.  Grow sustainable job opportunities in target sectors
2.  Develop a comprehensive business retention and expansion program
3.  Foster greater entrepreneurial spirit
4.  Strengthen education and job training opportunities
5.  Welcome newcomers and returning residents
6.  Support attractive redevelopment in central neighborhoods
7.  Champion emerging leaders and strengthen partnerships

This Strategic Plan was designed to be realistic for a three to five-year implementation timeframe. It will take a commitment of time and resources, and the dedication of both public and private leaders working together, to implement the objectives in this Strategic Plan. This document provides the action steps necessary to invigorate the process with new ideas. The next document, Implementation Guidelines, provides additional information, including staffing and budget recommendations, to help Jefferson City-Cole County begin the implementation phase of Progress Jefferson City.

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