JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The process of completely overhauling Missouri’s economic development strategy by restructuring four state agencies is set to begin the next phase.
Monday marked the end of the 60-day period in which the Missouri General Assembly could vote to oppose the proposed changes initiated by Gov. Mike Parson through a series of executive orders issued in January.
“We greatly appreciate the support of the legislature throughout this process,” Parson said. “They’ve been engaged all along the way, and it’s an honor to work with these leaders as we set out to become Best in Midwest.”
The restructuring plan will affect the Department of Economic Development, the Department of Higher Education, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions, and Professional Registration.
The first phase of the plan kicked off with three executive orders signed by Parson in January.
The next two phases of the restructuring occur on July 1, when the state’s fiscal year begins, and August 28, when the executive orders take effect. In the interim, the state agencies will continue working together to ensure that these vital services will continue without interruption.
Part of the plan includes the Missouri Arts Council being moved under the Office of the Lt. Governor. Since that transition involved different elected offices, it requires action by the General Assembly — the House has approved of and sent the proposal to the Senate.
The reorganization comes after months of research and the involvement of thousands of Missourians, the results of which were shared during the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development last fall.
The research delved into the complexity of Missouri’s economic development agency, finding that the Department of Economic Development has more employees and houses more functions than any of its Midwest peers. In addition, the research showed that other states outperform the agency in nearly every measure—including those pertaining to workforce development.
“When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority,” Rob Dixon, Department of Economic Development Director said. “We saw that in the data. We see it in our agency, and with the support of thousands of Missourians across our state, we’re doing something about it. This is a historic moment, and we’re excited to move forward with the transition, knowing we have the support of our partners and legislators across the state.”
What is changing:
- The Division of Workforce Development and Missouri Economic Research and Information Center will move to the Department of Higher Education to establish a single resource in state government for all postsecondary education options.
- The Division of Energy will return to the Department of Natural Resources.
- The Office of Public Councel and the Public Service Commission will join similarly structured Tier III regulatory agencies at the newly named Department of Commerce and Insurance.
- The Missouri Arts Council will be elevated to the Office of the Lt. Governor.
- The Department of Economic Development will shift to have staff based across Missouri in order to better meet the unique needs of each economic region and will form a new division that will specifically help businesses address workforce needs as they hire and train workers for large expansions.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.