COLUMBIA — "Project Tiger" could bring 500 new jobs to Columbia.
The city, MU, Columbia College and Regional Economic Development Inc. are joining forces with the goal of drawing a large employer to Columbia. But because of a non-disclosure agreement, nobody can go into specifics.
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe confirmed the project has the potential to bring 500 jobs to town, but she cautioned that Columbia isn't a lock yet.
"Whether it is a sure thing or not has yet to be determined," Hoppe said. "I'm smiling and hopeful."
Dave Griggs, chairman of REDI's board of directors, is optimistic. He said the fact that Columbia sits in the Midwest is a big plus for companies looking to relocate. The central location makes shipping and travel across the nation much easier.
"Those advantages are brought on by the ever-increasing cost of fuel," Griggs said. "We have to take advantage of all the cards we're dealt."
REDI president Mike Brooks said there are a number of economic development projects in the works.
"We're in a stronger market position that will hopefully open doors for us," Brooks said.
Brooks and Griggs emphasized the sensitivity of the Project Tiger effort and explained why many folks choose not to talk about it.
"Companies that are investigating a significant expansion, they don't want their competitors to know anything about their plans," Griggs said. "Nearly all prospects have Columbia sign non-disclosure acts."
It is uncertain where in Columbia the Project Tiger effort would choose to locate. Ewing Industrial Park —the first certified shovel-ready site in Missouri — is a possibility. Two available buildings on Lemone Industrial Boulevard could also be options.