Chamber: Attracting industry a priority

The Cole County Commission got an update Thursday from the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce on efforts to bring in more businesses.

Missy Bonnot, director of economic development for the chamber, told commissioners the chamber, which receives county funds to promote economic development in the county, has been trying to bring in jobs in areas such as steel manufacturing.

She said the city was in the running for the Mamtek International sugar substitute manufacturing facility that eventually went to Moberly. She said company officials told her that while the facility Jefferson City had shown them was larger than what they will have in Moberly, it basically came down to company officials believing Jefferson City was a “government town,” essentially having more brains than the brawn that they were looking for in a plant site.

Last year, the chamber sent out 17 manufacturing proposals and got 14 responses, Bonnot said. This year, they sent out 10 and got six responses.

One asset that still garners interest from businesses is the spec building on North Shamrock Road, which can go from 50,000 square feet up to 130,000 square feet.

Meanwhile, Bonnot told the commissioners, there is hope that a couple of existing businesses in town could expand in the near future.

She said she couldn’t name the businesses, but one is looking at $10 million in improvements and 15 jobs. The other business is looking at $4 million in improvements and adding 25 jobs, with the possibility of expanding their facility or adding another site.

Bonnot also said the chamber continues to get interest from people wanting to start small businesses. In the past few months, she said, people have contacted the chamber about starting businesses such as a preschool and a small manufacturing facility.

Less than half of those who contact the chamber go through with getting their business actually started, Bonnot said. Many people don’t realize they need to have a business plan and proper financing in place to make their ideas work, she said. The chamber is making efforts to help those potential businesses succeed by offering classes and workshops.

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