JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is celebrating the passage of several bills during the 2018 legislative session, but the mission doesn’t stop there.
Members of the chamber are viewing the past two years, particularly this last session, as a turning point in their endeavors to improve the state’s economy by better preparing the state’s workforce, modernizing infrastructure and making the state’s business climate more friendly to companies while more competitive to other states.
Legislation passed in 2018 includes utility rate changes, grid modernization, workforce development through improved learning and skill teaching, a ballot measure seeking to raise the fuel tax, lowering state individual and corporate tax rates, as well some key labor reform issues.
It’s all part of the plan for the Chamber’s Missouri 2030 Plan, a statewide strategic plan for growth. Using Gallup research and talking with experts, as well as looking to see what has benefited other states, the Chamber has managed to highlight a number of basic tenets and changes that could truly reform the state’s economy and workforce by the year 2030.
The report, released this week, focuses on four core drivers:
- Preparing the workforce
- Competing for jobs
- Improving infrastructure
- Uniting the business community
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Chamber President Dan Mehan said that the concerns of the future are not just having a trained workforce, but providing workers at all, as more baby boomers look toward retirement.
He said that they needed to find a way to bridge the gap between the business community and educators so that students can get the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.
Mehan also spoke of the importance of improving the state’s infrastructure, not just roads and bridges, but the electrical grid, broadband, and other various forms of infrastructure.
The report was authored by Ted Abernathy, the Managing Partner of Economic Leadership LLC, a Raleigh NC-based company that helps businesses, and places, increase their competitiveness. Abernathy said that through conversations and research, they had identified several calls to action for Missouri.
Abernathy said there was no “silver bullet” to fix the issues, but instead said they recommended six strategies and 31 specific actions, a checklist of tangible things to be done.
The six strategies are:
- Maximizing business engagement
- Focusing on improving worker skills
- Prioritizing regional sector strategies
- Increasing career awareness
- Attracting and retaining more talent
- Improve communications for all stakeholders
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.