Missouri Gov. Nixon outlines report on business growth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A panel of business leaders working with Missouri’s economic development chief has come up with eight objectives the state should pursue in its quest to create thousands of jobs in high-growth industries already located in the region.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced the objectives and seven target industries that are part of his five-year Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth on Wednesday at Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City.

The school’s animal health program is an example of the kinds of resources the state can use to create thousands of jobs, the governor said.

“Kansas City is the heart of the booming animal health corridor,” Nixon said. “Animal health and science companies from across the United States and around the world are flocking to (St. Joseph), Kansas City and Columbia because of a cluster of resources . we are amassing here in the Show-Me State.”

In May, Nixon picked four business leaders for the “executive advisory board” of his economic planning initiative. Since then, the group has recruited hundreds of business, labor, education and economic development officials to work out key objectives for the plan.

The governor said Wednesday’s unveiling of the report’s findings is the first step in the process. Next up, no later than the end of March, the group is developing strategies for reaching the panel’s objectives for transforming the state’s economy.

A big part of that plan is identifying existing industries with high growth potential and providing assistance to businesses already in operation to help them grow.

“It’s often the very easiest to take what you have and grow it, rather than trying to bring something new in,” Nixon said. “We think that lesson is a very real one for us here in the region.”

Topping the list of objectives is training a work force with the skills to succeed in 21st Century jobs. Nixon said that’s one of the reasons he kicked off the planning process at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, and announced initial findings at Maple Woods.

Other objectives include retaining and expanding existing businesses, optimizing tax credits, investing in technology and innovation, aggressively marketing the state, developing the state’s foreign trade efforts, encouraging small- and minority business development, and providing an infrastructure for companies and communities to be successful.

Nixon said targeted industries with high growth potential are advanced manufacturing, energy, bioscience, health sciences, information technology, financial and professional services, and transportation.

State Economic Development Director David Kerr and the state panel will be conducting regional forums in January to gather input on how to reach the objectives. Nixon said about 450 people of some 800 invited to take part in the initial discussion helped develop the goals, and he hopes more will take part in the strategy phase.

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