Economic Development News

Making Economic Development Plans for 2016
Published: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 4:30 pm
By: Randy Allen, President/CEO

As you might be aware the local economic development efforts are executed by many partners.  The primary stakeholders are the City of Jefferson, Cole County and the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce. For several months, earlier in 2015, these three partners met to discuss current best practice ideas for local community and economic growth. During that 5 month period the team heard presentations from Former Governor Bob Holden, Mike Downing, Director, MO Department of Economic Development, Steve Johnson, President/CEO of the Missouri Partnership and Lincoln University President Dr. Kevin Rome.

Former Governor Holden, who is the Founder of the Holden Public Policy Forum at Webster University and the Chairman of the Midwest US-China Association in Chicago, emphasized the importance of all stakeholders committing to working together for progress and leveraging LU as a larger contributor of our economic growth. Mike Downing, on behalf of his agency, pointed to the changing landscape of job creation and workforce development. His advice was to find and create the opportunities best suited to our local workforce and culture. He pointed out some of the strategies contained in our 2010 Strategic Plan authored by TIP Strategies are still relevant and worth continuing and enhancing. Steve Johnson discussed the trends they have seen while marketing Missouri to site selection firms and companies who are looking for a new location. Dr. Rome used his opportunity to highlight the impact of LU on our community and discussed how the community could assist in increasing their economic footprint in the future.

At the conclusion of those meetings the Chamber Economic Development staff authored an outline work plan for 2016 which was discussed and revised by the three partners at subsequent meetings.

As of the writing of this article, this work plan is being developed as a part of the Economic Development Service contracts with the City and County for 2016.

A few highlights of the plan include:

Workforce

Develop a P-20 Committee (Preschool to Advanced Higher Ed) of area public and private schools and Higher Education institutions to connect more closely with employers and to align the career ready and post-secondary education outcomes to the workforce needs for the future.

In order to fully understand the challenges we face and to create and attract talent at all skill levels, a Labor Availability Analysis will be commissioned to look below the surface of the workforce “DNA”. This study will be vital to understanding the location of the available labor pool, the portion of the labor force that is underemployed, and the characteristics of general laborers, skilled blue-collar workers, service and support workers and professional white-collar workers. It will also seek to understand further the needs of workers we will be working to attract.

We will complete the Cole County, “Certified Work Ready Community” process, a statewide initiative that seeks to establish a work ready yardstick in which local businesses will be more equipped to screen future employees. This certification will also allow us to gain further credibility with potential employers as they evaluate our workforce potential.

MSP

We intend to work with the City and County to develop an agreement to be presented to the State to allow for local property acquisition, infrastructure improvements, private development and reuse of the area between Lafayette, Capitol, Chestnut and the Missouri River to allow it to be an economic engine we hoped it would be.

Lincoln University

Having a strong and vibrant university in the community is essential for future growth. We will work closely with Lincoln University to grow their footprint with a goal of increasing enrollment. One factor needed for growth is to expand the university presence adjacent to campus. We will work with LU to develop an “off campus University Village” and begin the process of creating more commercial and retail business and housing for LU students in the Lafayette, Chestnut and Dunklin Street corridors.

The Chamber will work to increase business support of LU activities such as the 150 year celebration in 2016, LU sporting events, LU Gala, golf tournament and Blue Tiger Fest as well as the new LU Small Business Development and Technology Center on the south campus to focus on small business and minority business development in Central Missouri.

New Business Development

In order to “develop our own” we will begin the process to cultivate two new economic development projects to leverage the workforce and support institutions that currently exist in this area. One of these could be technology related and the other could leverage our agriculture base.

Community Development The Capital Improvement Sales Tax programs will be presented to voters next year.  Infrastructure development is crucial to our community’s progress and we will be involved in and strongly support the continuation of these 30+ year programs.   

These are just a few of the highlights of the 2016 Economic Development Plan.  In the coming months, you will hear more specific information about the activities. Thank you to all our partners that provided input for the plan and we look forward to an exciting 2016!

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