COLUMBIA — Through a new alliance, a development organization hopes the Columbia area is better positioned to attract high-tech jobs.
Regional Economic Development Inc., a local group that works to bring development to Columbia and Boone County, has entered into a partnership with the Kansas City Area Development Council. The goal of this partnership is to lure animal and bioscience businesses to Columbia.
REDI voted at its most recent meeting to accept the proposal, officially called the Kansas City Regional Knowledge Partnership, which includes paying $25,000 to the Kansas City Council. Bernie Andrews, executive vice president of REDI, said the organization hopes to announce new businesses in the Columbia area within the coming weeks.
Other than working to economically develop Kansas City and the surrounding region, the Kansas City development group manages an area that stretches from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., to MU that's known as the "animal health corridor."
“Our corridor is the largest concentration of animal health industry in the world,” said Lynn Parman, vice president of life sciences and technology for the Kansas City group. “We alone house 34 percent of the industry globally,” she said.
Andrews said Columbia and Boone County have resources that would draw animal health, nanotechnology, nuclear medicine and bioscience into the region, and a partnership with a large organization like the Kansas City development council can help entice businesses.
“They are a very large group," Andrews said. "They have resources that we simply do not."
Resources in Columbia include the MU Research Reactor; the new Life Science Business Incubator, which offers companies a place to facilitate their laboratory and business needs while providing access to university resources; and the veterinary and agriculture schools.
“Everyone knows that the university is the largest employer in Columbia," Andrews said. "How the university goes, so goes Columbia. Right now it’s seeing record enrollment; that bodes well for our city.”
REDI is funded by the city of Columbia, Boone County Government, MU and approximately 90 local businesses as well as the cities of Ashland, Hallsville and Centralia.