Columbia native Greg Steinhoff said improving Missouri’s business climate by cutting costs, especially through tort reform and workers’ compensation, will be his main goals as the next director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
Gov. Matt Blunt said during a news conference at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that Steinhoff is his choice to lead the department. While Steinhoff’s nomination is subject to state Senate approval, neither Blunt nor Steinhoff foresees any complications.
At 45, he is vice president for franchise relations at Option Care, which provides specialty pharmaceutical products and services.
He is treasurer of the Boone Hospital Center Board of Trustees and a former chairman of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, the chamber gave Steinhoff its Outstanding Citizen Award.
He worked as a pharmacist in Columbia and holds degrees from Westminster College and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy.
Steinhoff was quick to outline his priorities for the new job Tuesday.
“Workers’ compensation costs have gone out of control in this state,” Steinhoff said, adding that improving workers’ compensation costs translates into benefits for small-business owners in Missouri.
Blunt noted that states such as Oklahoma and Kansas offer immediate cash incentives, whereas Missouri only provides tax credits for workers’ compensation.
He said Missouri is at a competitive disadvantage with other states when it comes to recruiting businesses.
“We’re stuck in a tax-credit mode, and we really need to begin to think beyond that,” Blunt said. “I think that’s part of a process — recrafting our economic incentives so that we’re competitive with other states.”
Steinhoff was thankful for Blunt’s nomination and said he has the background to lead the department in the direction the governor has in mind.
“I’ve worked in and around a lot of different businesses, and I think I have a sense of what businesses want and need to be successful, and I am proud to work with a governor who has a sense for that as well,” Steinhoff said.
Blunt said restructuring the Department of Economic Development is “fairly likely” because the state government has not been reorganized in three decades.
“(Steinhoff) is concerned about job creation and economic development, not maintaining some sort of bureaucratic empire,” Blunt said.
Steinhoff and Blunt said the department’s main focus should be on creating “good, family-supporting jobs” and that any reorganization of the department would be done with that in mind.
Garry Taylor, interim director of the department, said Steinhoff will be a good fit.
“He is very qualified. His business background is very beneficial to the position,” Taylor said. “He has experience on a local level, so he has the perspective from a business and a community level.”