Economic Development News

Economic Development Team Partnerships
Guest speakers provide advice and feedback for local economic development strategy
Published: Thursday, August 13, 2015 2:00 pm
By: Missy Bonnot, Director, Economic Development

Jefferson City is a great community and we offer many great amenities to our residents and to our visitors.  One thing we have that most people can’t visually see is a great Economic Development Team.  The Chamber contracts with the city and the county to provide economic development services.  But as we have said many times before, the Chamber can’t do it alone.

You might recall the most recent company announcement we had in April is a firm that is locating in the former RR Donnelley building.  Continental Commercial Products will be leasing 534,000 square feet of the 650,000 space and hiring approximately 200 people by the end of 2016.

We couldn’t have lured CCP to Jefferson City without the help of all our partners including Jefferson City Public Schools, Cole County and Jefferson City.  Representatives from all those entities (and other entities as well) met with company officials numerous times to show the company just how much we wanted them to locate to Jefferson City.

In a quote from an April 5th News Tribune article, Brian Nichols, Vice President of Human Resources and Legal Affairs for CCP,  stated  “We were considering facilities when we found out about Jefferson City, and they really jumped through hoops.”   CCP considered St. Louis, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Vandalia, Illinois. He went on to say, “No other areas that we looked at had as good of a coordinated effort.”

We may take that coordinated team effort for granted, but that team effort is unique compared to many other communities.  

I think the word “partnership” is often overused, but truly that is what we have with our program.

The ED Team (which consists of the Mayor, City Administrator, City Council, County Commissioners and Chamber Executive Committee) has been meeting for the last several months and hosting several speakers. The purpose of these meetings is to get advice and feedback on how Jefferson City and Cole County can begin to grow at a faster rate and adapt to a changing Economic Development landscape.

I’d like to share a summary of those meetings with you.

Summary of recent Economic Development Team Meetings:

Meeting 1:  Governor Bob Holden

The first meeting in May we hosted former Governor Bob Holden.  Governor Holden currently is the Chairman of the Midwest US China Association and he provided a global Economic Development perspective for our group.  The main takeaways were:

  • How can we collectively work together to build our economy
  • Communicate our successes
  • We, as a state, need to be investing in our infrastructure, education and technology
  • How can we grow the “pie” and not fight over what we already have
  • Need to better utilize our current resources
  • The areas that are creating jobs and building their economies are investing in infrastructure, education and technology

Meeting 2
  Mike Downing, Director, Department of Economic Development

Mike has over 30 years economic development experience and has been a resident of Jefferson City for as many years.  Mike spoke to us from a state perspective and a summary of his observations include:

  • US/MO Economy is changing
  • Low tech manufacturing: locating in Mexico
  • Fastest growing companies are Technology and Professional Services
  • Jefferson City has a fairly stable economy mostly due to state government
  • Warning signs include aging/retiring state workers, reductions in non-tech manufacturing, increased Jefferson City workers living in Columbia
  • Successful communities are the ones that are attracting, developing, and retaining a talented workforce

Meeting 3
  Steve Johnson, Director and Dennis Pruitt, International Project Manager, Missouri Partnership 

The Missouri Partnership was formed in 2008 and is the lead state economic development organization for Business Attraction and Marketing. Jefferson City and other communities within the state work closely with Missouri Partnership on project leads and company site visits as well as marketing events and activities. Most of the presentation time consisted of three project case studies that Missouri Partnership and the chamber worked on together.  The three companies all made a site visit to Jefferson City within the last year.  Ultimately, Jefferson City was eliminated from all three of these projects because site or building didn’t fit the company’s needs.

Project Birch:

  • Advanced Manufacturing – Tier I Automotive Supplier
  • 60 jobs, $25.2 million capital investment
  • 20-acre rail served site to construct 131,250SF facility

Project Aurora

  • Advanced Manufacturing – Tier I Automotive Supplier
  • 340 jobs, $190.6 million capital investment, 70-acre site

Project Aluminum

  • Aluminum recycling center
  • 82 jobs, $24.6 million capital investment, existing 53,000SF facility

Meeting 4:  Dr. Kevin Rome, President Lincoln University

Dr. Rome has been President at LU for 2 years. One of his main goals is to grow student population and increase credit hours.  The freshman retention rate has gone from 38% to 54% in a two year time period. In 2014, Lincoln University had 450 full time and 93 part time employees and a total of 3,117 students. There are four items LU is currently working on:

  • Advocate for more resources
  • Develop more internships for students
  • Increase the number of students on campus
  • Increase visual representation in our community

Dr. Rome discussed several projects occurring at LU. The Recreation Center project will help recruit students to the campus.  Boys and Girls Club will be locating on campus.  This will help the young people realize they can go to college and further their education.  The Career Planning and Placement Center is now in place and will be able to assist students in employment after graduation.  The Small Business & Technology Development Center has been approved and will open this fall.  The center will provide technical assistance to people that would like to start a small business. An Honors Program has been created and currently has 64 students participating and living in Anthony Hall.

Thank you to all our speakers and to our team members who participated in these important discussions for the growth of our community.

The next ED Team meeting will be at the end of August and we will discuss the takeaways from the four meetings and discuss ED Ideas and strategy for 2016.  If you have any thoughts or would like to share any ideas to move our community forward, contact the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Randy Allen at or 638-3580.

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