Best in Midwest Summit begins work to transform Missouri into top state for economic and workforce development


ST. LOUIS — On Wednesday, the Missouri Department of Economic Development and Department of Higher Education convened the Best in Midwest Summit in St. Louis. This unprecedented gathering brought together legislators, business leaders, college and university presidents, and key leaders from communities across the state to begin transforming Missouri into a top state for economic and workforce development.

“Today alongside many of our state’s top leaders, we began building the plan for the future of economic and workforce development in Missouri,” Governor Mike Parson said. “This work is an integral part of developing our strategy and it’s going to take all of us to move Missouri forward.”

National experts, along with Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon and Commissioner of Higher Education Zora Mulligan, presented an overview of global shifts that are reshaping the world  and changing the economy and workforce needs, and provided context for Missouri’s position nationally.

“Missouri deserves to have the best economy in the Midwest,” Director Rob Dixon said. “Today we took bold steps to completely redefine our economic and workforce development strategy to become best in Midwest.” 

“Today’s summit was an important step forward toward repositioning Missouri as a global economic leader. It’s exciting to see such a strong, multidisciplinary team represented at the summit as we work together to ensure Missouri is prepared to compete for jobs and business expansion opportunities,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “I believe the Best in Midwest initiative can help unite our state’s business community as its goals align perfectly with our strategic plan, Missouri 2030. We will continue to be engaged with this effort as it moves forward.”

The Summit was a highly interactive gathering of Missouri’s top business community and leaders eager to build a new plan for the state. Robust discussions centered around Missouri’s assets and challenges moving forward. Participants rolled up their sleeves and got to work designing principles to shape a new direction for Missouri’s economic and workforce development efforts.

“Education and talent are critical to the success of economic development,” Commissioner Zora Mulligan said. “The leaders here today have helped us begin to fundamentally reset our approach to meeting the state’s workforce needs.”

The Best in Midwest Summit showcased opportunities for growth in Missouri and how Missouri compares to its Midwestern peers. Summit participants were asked to provide immediate feedback on data presented, providing critical insights for Missouri’s economic development and workforce strategy.