Despite concerns over a coronavirus-induced recession, the Show-Me State has plenty to look forward to. Thanks to the diligent work of 39 communities, local leaders, and our Public Service Commission, rural Missouri is set to see unparalleled economic opportunity.
Established more than 100 years ago, the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) ensures Missourians have reliable and accessible electricity from utilities across the state. And, its determination that the Grain Belt Express transmission project is in the public interest has been reaffirmed through every legal challenge it has faced, finally making way for the $500 million investment in northern Missouri.
Along with lower electricity costs (estimated at more than $12 million every year), the project plans to expand access to broadband infrastructure to underserved areas, create 1,500 jobs, and contribute $7 million in taxes to local communities. This means lower/stable utility rates in those communities for years to come.
When consumers have more money in their pockets to spend locally, businesses and health care providers have reliable high-speed internet, and towns have outside tax dollars to spend on schools and other critical services, Missouri communities will thrive without abandoning our way of life.
For years, investments have gravitated toward urban areas, often to the city willing to shell out the most in tax breaks and incentives. The Grain Belt Express reverses the trend completely, giving attention to rural Missouri and not asking the state for a dime.
Still, despite the benefits of this once in a generation opportunity, some people are trying to get in the way of these 39 communities’ ability to act in their own best interest.
They have pushed for legislation to take the decision-making out of the hands of those charged with overseeing our state’s infrastructure and these communities that want access to low-cost energy. Their proposed actions would let one branch of government defy free-market principles and pick winners and losers in the Missouri economy.
Please join me in standing up for economic prosperity in rural Missouri. Let’s keep Missouri strong and open for business.
Harold Selby is the former city administrator of both St. James and Pacific as well as a former state legislator.