The good news, according to David Meyer of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, is that revenues in the state are up 2.86 percent from last year.
However, Missouri still must work hard to bring in new business and expand current businesses, Meyer told members of the Park Hills-Leadington Chamber of Commerce Tuesday during the chamber’s monthly meeting.
Meyer was this month’s guest speaker, and he had some advice for Parkland cities that want to be more attractive to companies.
“Do an internal assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, and the kind of businesses you want to attract,” he said. “The better you know what you want locally, the easier it is when a business shows up for you to communicate with them. You might have fewer prospects than with a shotgun approach, but they will be more likely ones.”
Meyer said the state’s new plan is to focus on advanced industries and jobs that will be most helpful to Missouri. One of those is the automobile industry.
“We’ve had pretty bad luck with that recently,” Meyer said. “We need to redouble our efforts.”
Other industries the state wants to cultivate include aerospace and defense, clean energy, biosciences, data centers, medical call centers, transportation and warehousing.
In order to have ample clean energy generation and transmission, Missouri needs to be sure that it trains electrical engineers to help with the facilities in the future, Meyer said.
In fact, colleges and universities need to prepare students to fill the jobs these businesses would create. For example, medical call centers provide 24-hour online services and will need nurses to provide basic medical advice to callers.
In order to compete with larger cities, small communities need to be ready to accept new businesses. That means having land available, preparing infrastructure, ensuring high flow fire suppression and providing all kinds of high-speed computer access, Meyer advised.
Although community block grants can help cities develop infrastructure, it is very likely that the federal government will cut funding to those grants, he added.
Meyer said that as diesel gas prices increase, railroads could become more important, so railways need to be kept up.
“We have neglected rail systems, not only in Missouri, but nationally,” he said.
Meyer also noted that two years ago, the average age of Ameren linemen was 56. Companies with aging workers will need trained young people to replace them, he said.
Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at email@example.com.