UPDATE: Nixon seeks 5-year economic growth plan for Missouri

Friday, May 21, 2010 | 2:38 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Jay Nixon turned Friday to corporate executives to help develop a five-year plan for expanding Missouri's economy.

Nixon selected four business leaders for the "executive advisory board" of his new economic planning initiative. He wants them to recruit other business, labor, research and economic development officials, who in turn will work with several regional planning teams.

All told, the initiative could involve up to 200 people and take until the end of the year to complete, said David Kerr, the director of the state Department of Economic Development.

It "will touch every industry, every sector of the economy, and every corner of our state," Nixon said.

The governor wants the planners to develop six to 10 broad objectives that focus on industries important to Missouri's economy, with specific steps to foster their growth. Those objectives could include goals for developing Missouri's work force, encouraging innovation and entrepreneurs or attracting capital investment for businesses, Kerr said.

Nixon announced the planning initiative while visiting the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, which uses its more than $2 billion endowment primarily for grants related to entrepreneurship and education.

The initiative comes just one week after Missouri lawmakers concluded their annual session without passing any economic development bills. Lawmakers were at loggerheads over rival proposals to expand business incentives and to scale back Missouri's existing tax credit programs — both of which Nixon supported.

Kerr said the timing of Nixon's initiative was not related to the legislature's inaction. Rather, Kerr said the need for a strategic plan was one of the first things he discussed with Nixon when he left a similar job in Kansas to head up Missouri's economic development efforts last November.

The four-person advisory board is composed of Ann Marie Baker, of UMB in Springfield; Paul Combs, of Baker Implement Co. in Kennett; Bill Downey, of Kansas City Power & Light; and David Steward, of World Wide Technology Inc. in St. Louis.

Kerr said the advisory team will work with a steering committee of 20 to 30 people. That committee will gather information from five or six regional planning teams, each of which also will have 20 to 30 members, Kerr said.

"We think it's important to have as much feedback and input into the process as we can get," he said.


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