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County Commission seeking economic development services

County Commission seeking economic development services

August 15th, 2018 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

Cole County Courthouse

Two groups seeking to get a bid to provide economic development services for Cole County will make their pitches to the County Commission later this month.

Victory Enterprises and Strategic Capital Consulting are scheduled to make a presentation Aug. 21, and the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce will make its presentation Aug. 28, commissioners said Tuesday.

Commissioners approved putting out requests for proposals for economic development services in June after discussing for several years whether they needed to look at more ways to attract economic development.

The commission has contracted with the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce for those services for more than 20 years. In April, the commission approved another contract with the chamber for $150,000, the amount the county has been paying for several years.

Commissioners emphasized they do not want to stop working with the chamber on economic development even though they were asking for proposals, noting the county is already involved with the chamber on many economic development projects, such as a proposed Missouri River port.

The commission's request for proposal shows the commissioners are seeking a firm "capable of providing consulting for the commission in the attraction and retention of businesses and the promotion of the County before the Missouri General Assembly another State of Missouri governmental bodies."

Some specific items in the proposals include developing a community relations plan for the county to work with Jefferson City, the Chamber of Commerce and "key influencer group officials to execute County priorities."

The winning group would write and submit grants on behalf of the county for state and federal opportunities as they arise and would participate in industrial relations, business development activities, and community support and development.

"We're trying to do what is best for the county," Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle said Tuesday. "There's money to be had from the state for economic development, and we need to have someone working to get that for us."

Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher noted: "We don't have to approve any of these, but I think it will be good to listen to what they have to say."

In the contract the commission signed with the chamber in April, the chamber promised to solicit business prospects as well as prepare and distribute promotional material about the community.

In its proposal, the chamber detailed initiatives it was working to meet in 2018, including redevelopment of Capitol Avenue as well as establishing the framework for redevelopment of the site of the former Missouri State Penitentiary. As for attracting business, the chamber is developing and implementing "Project Retail" with a main focus being to connect local entrepreneurs with franchise opportunities.

Victory Enterprises is a political and corporate consulting communications firm based in Davenport, Iowa, whose clients include U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Locke Thompson, who won the Aug. 7 Republican primary to run for Cole County prosecuting attorney. It also represents corporate clients including Mediacom as well as the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. Strategic Capitol Consulting was founded by former Missouri House Speaker Steven Tilley in 2012 and represents large companies, professional associations and municipally owned utilities.

In its proposal, Victory/Strategic said they would analyze the county's existing policies, infrastructure and amenities and how they relate to business attraction and retention, then develop and execute an "exhaustive public relations, messaging and media delivery plan to better tell Cole County's story on why businesses should locate here." They also state they would work to develop and locate a river port in the Algoa area and support research to extend JeffTran bus service to current and potential employers in the Algoa area. If chosen, Strategic would serve as the registered lobbyist for the county on state matters.

A third proposal was submitted by TJ Consulting of Jefferson City, but commissioners decided the Victory/Strategic and chamber proposals were the best options.

There was no word Tuesday on how soon the commission could make a decision following the groups' presentations.