The old model of focusing on industry and large business to bring jobs and build our economy is no longer working. We have a new model, but no one is paying attention to it and Northeast Missouri’s growth is being retarded. We could and should be doing better.
Traditionally all economic development in this region has been focused on industry and larger businesses. Because of this, much of what is being done is “top secret” and cannot be discussed. How many large businesses have been brought to Northeast Missouri in the last several years? The answer is none. That’s because our focus is wrong.
A more successful focus would be on small business growth and development. Small business is the foundation of our community and our country. Small businesses when properly attended to, can grow and develop into larger businesses that hire more people. Small business is easier to attract and easier to grow.
Owning a business of your own is part of the American Dream. Colleges and Universities are focusing more on entrepreneurship because of documented need throughout the country. Let’s be proactive and try something different – something that works.
The Provenance Project brought many artists/business people to this region. It’s been proven that a simple invitation is a powerful force. Artists are buying buildings, homes, and building their businesses, with no help from the city, county or economic development. Just think how much better each business could be if there was some place or someone they could go to and get information about incentives, training, incubators, loans and tax credits.
It’s time to refocus. To pay attention to the companies that have chosen to be in this region, to help them grow, and to encourage more small businesses start ups in Northeast Missouri.
Finally, I am also advocating for a more transparent process. If you’ve been to any chamber meetings you’ll have found that all economic development is “top secret” and can’t be discussed. Economic development affects every person in Northeast Missouri and our region deserves better accountability.