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The Missouri Department of Economic Development announced an initiative Tuesday that will study how the state’s workforce aligns with the needs of employers in the state.

The move is part of an internal review being conducted by the DED to determine how it can become the best economic development agency in the Midwest. Business leaders from across Missouri said the state needs to know how it can better prepare young workers to work as the state’s economy evolves.

The nonprofit Hawthorn Foundation, the DED and the Missouri Department of Education will partner in the initiative. Missouri Department of Higher Education Commissioner Zora Mulligan said the department has a responsibility to train workers as technology changes the American economy.

“Education will be a crucial part of the action plan,” Mulligan said in a news release. “We must act now to ensure that Missouri will lead the nation in preparing talented workers who can thrive in the dynamic new economy.”

DED Director Rob Dixon said businesses across the state will be more competitive if it invests in growing its workforce.

“Ensuring that our economy has available, productive and talented workers is the single most important factor for success in economic development,” Dixon said in the news release.

In late April, the DED announced an internal review it hopes will help make it the top economic development agency in the Midwest. Building on that, this initiative will assess how the state’s current workforce aligns with the needs of employers.

A task force created as part of an initiative will hold meetings throughout the summer in Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia and Cape Girardeau. The task force will announce a set of recommendations in a final report that will be announced in September at the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development.

Last year, the DED and Hawthorn Foundation-backed Governor’s Innovation Task Force held meetings throughout last summer to make Missouri a better place for businesses. The innovation task force recommended the state improve the state’s climate for tech startups, help entrepreneurs brainstorm new ideas and focus on enrolling students in jobs that focus on science and engineering.