Director outlines economic development objectives for MSDC Board of Directors

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

With the state's economic outlook uncertain, the Marshall-Saline Development Corporation has decided to focus its efforts on attracting specific types of businesses to Saline County.

MSDC Executive Director Roy Hunter reported on these efforts at the MSDC Board of Directors meeting Tuesday.

Hunter said that during the coming year he and Sandi Cox, assistant director, will be focusing on attracting a call center, automotive subcontractors and value-added agriculture industries. He said Cox is handling the call center effort and he is working on the latter two projects.

"To date, Sandi has found one company that has expressed an interest in expanding this year and she has accumulated a number of additional leads," Hunter said. "I have created a list of over 300 subcontractors that supply the auto industry."

Hunter said he is currently working, company by company, to evaluate each of the firms as a potential local industry. The process takes about 30 minutes per company, he said.

Board President Steve Blalock said he had spoken with Ed Kays, president of Kays Engineering, who has volunteered to help. Blalock said Kays' business works closely with a number of automotive subcontractors and Kays has agreed to supply a list of potential contacts to help MSDC along the way.

"That's great," Hunter said. "A lot of the research is just finding out who to talk to."

Because of state funding problems, MSDC will have to be creative in offering incentives to businesses. Hunter said the news coming out of a legislative session sponsored by the Missouri Economic Development Council was not necessarily good.

"It was the general consensus of the membership and guests that the negative impact of the budget deficit has had, and will continue to have, a dramatic impact on programs and incentives available to companies considering relocation or expansion into Missouri," he said.

In addition, the Department of Economic Development is facing financial hardships and is forecasting another round of layoffs. He said the staffing cuts on the state level make it difficult for those promoting rural economic development to get the assistance they need.

Hunter said he is currently exploring alternate ways to provide funding for incentives. He said the United States Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Department of Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Commerce all have programs which could provide assistance to MSDC.

"Creative financing and local incentives will be needed to overcome the budget restrictions now facing our state," Hunter said.

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