REDI president hints at new development within the month

Friday, June 4, 2010 | 9:14 p.m. CDT; updated 11:25 p.m. CDT, Friday, June 4, 2010

LAKE OF THE OZARKS — Regional Economic Development Inc. President Mike Brooks hinted at a new development deal being worked on that will come to fruition in the next month.

Brooks made this announcement at the City Council's annual retreat at the Lake of the Ozarks on Friday evening, but did not reveal the name of the business.

Brooks said there will be participation from the state for the new project but no funding from the city. It will involve Chapter 100, a Missouri statute for industrial development, which was all that Brooks would reveal.

Brooks said a project like IBM’s site on LeMone Industrial Boulevard only comes along every eight to 10 years, but he didn’t dismiss the possibility of another big project turning up.

Councilman Paul Sturtz said the city can’t do IBM deals very often. 

“We probably don’t have another $3 million sitting under another rock.” Sturtz said. “How often can you swing for the fences like that?”

City Manager Bill Watkins said he believes every time.

“We keep slugging for home runs any time we get an opportunity,” Watkins said. 

Mayor Bob McDavid echoed Watkins' optimistic attitude about economic development in Columbia.

REDI is slated to move to the first story of the new parking garage at Fifth and Walnut streets.

Brooks said the organization wants to create a one-stop-shop for economic development downtown.

REDI will partner with staff from the Small Business and Technology Development Center, which has been located at MU in the College of Engineering. Brooks said he believes this will give REDI higher visibility and that people who wouldn’t have gone on campus for help will come to the new center.

From 2000 to 200,7 almost all job creation was non-commercial in Columbia, Brooks said. These jobs were mainly government and university jobs and those industries probably won't increase staffs given the current financial climate, he said.

There is an opportunity for business creation for graduating MU seniors, Brooks said. If only 1 percent of the graduating class would stay in Columbia and open businesses, there would be 60 new businesses each year, he said, and the new REDI center will be able to provide a community support system to replace the university support system for students after graduation.

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