Gov. Nixon in Columbia to launch economic planning intiative

Thursday, July 29, 2010 | 2:42 p.m. CDT; updated 5:20 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 29, 2010
Gov. Jay Nixon listens to Richard Fleming, president and CEO of St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association at the Reynolds Alumni Center on Thursday. Nixon was in Columbia to address the first meeting of the steering committee of the state's 2010 Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth.

COLUMBIA — Gov. Jay Nixon addressed a newly formed economic steering committee Thursday at its first meeting at the MU Reynolds Alumni Center, encouraging the group to act quickly to create a five-year plan for economic development in Missouri.

"This is designed as a way for the private sector to assist us, working together, to focus our economy," Nixon said.

The 40-member steering committee is part of Nixon's 2010 Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth, which is being coordinated by David Kerr, director of the Department of Economic Development. Nixon said leaders in business, higher education, economic planning and labor from around the state were selected to bring their expertise to the table.

Their goal is to create six to eight strategic objectives to drive economic growth in Missouri, based on existing and future industries. Each objective will be backed by a more detailed "tactical plan," Nixon said.

Bruce Walker, the dean of the MU College of Business, is the only committee member from Columbia. He said he sees himself as a representative for the greater state as well as the university.

"We have a statewide perspective with this steering committee, but I believe that the university can be very important to whatever plan is developed," Walker said.

"I think the university's role will be to try to help provide the educated workforce that's going to be needed for these technology-based industries in the future."

Walker said he believes MU can play an important role in developing economic growth for the state.

"There's a great opportunity for enterprise start-ups coming out of the scientific discoveries of the university," he said. "I think the university can provide leadership in that area as well."

The committee's priority recommendations are due to Nixon's desk by Dec. 1, he said, though they won't necessarily become legislation in the 2011 session.

"If legislation comes from this, fine, but that's not the point," he said. "We've got a lot of assets in the state, we've got laws already passed, we've got tools in place. This is more of a 'how do we focus what we have and make some choices about how we're going to spend our resources in the future.' "

The committee will meet with six regional planning teams to help develop its five-year plan, which committee members intend to complete in six to nine months.

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