Economic development efforts working in Missouri

As Missouri lawmakers brace for another week of economic development discussion in the special legislative session, they can look to past efforts and know their work is paying off for Missourians. It’s been reported that General Motors was considering expansion of its Wentzville plant that would create up to 2,000 new jobs, nearly tripling the plant’s current workforce of 1,200 employees.

“This is economic development at work,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  “This expansion would not only bring 2,000 new jobs for Missouri workers, the economic impact of an expansion this size would be felt across the entire region.”

Last summer, lawmakers worked to pass a valuable tax incentive package targeting auto manufacturers called the Missouri Manufacturing Jobs Act.  The Act allows expanding auto manufacturers, to keep a portion of its employee withholding taxes in exchange for investments made by the company.  This incentive could come into consideration for major expansions like General Motor’s Wentzville plant.

This summer, lawmakers have been embattled, once again, in the economic development arena.

“When people work, everyone wins,” Mehan said. “As economic activity increases, state revenues increase and that improves Missouri’s ability to invest in education, transportation and other state programs.”

Provisions within the package would be targeted to support creating an international air cargo hub at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis.  Other provisions target data centers, an emerging industry that projects more than $12 billion investment over the next three years.  Science and technology companies, another high-growth segment of the economy, are also the focus of the jobs plan.

“We need to continually work to make sure Missouri is making the most of every investment,” Mehan said.  “That’s why lawmakers are back in Jefferson City.  Some would rather stall debate over philosophical differences than get to work and make sure Missouri remains competitive.  I hope we can overcome the differences and put these critical tools in place for working Missourians.”

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Missouri Chamber remains hopeful of economic development package

The Missouri Chamber continues to push for passage of the broad economic development legislation that has been the focus of the 2011 Special Session.

“We appreciate the extra time the Missouri Legislature is giving to reach resolution on the issue,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber President and CEO.  “We realize it is a controversial issue, but it is time for the legislature to finish what it started. We have never lost hope that the General Assembly would find a way to overcome their differences in the bill.”

Progress now seems to be hung up over sunsets for low income housing and historic preservation funding.  On the line are job retention funding, data center incentives, provisions to advance high-tech start-ups, and incentives tied to building an international air cargo hub in and around Lambert Airport.

Ironically, today, China Eastern lands its inaugural cargo flight in St. Louis.

“After years of cultivating a big idea, we now have a real plane landing with real cargo,” said Mike Jones, chairman of Midwest-China Hub.  “Next, Missouri must energize its ability to export. More cargo means more flights, and more flights mean more jobs.”

“That goal is directly tied to Missouri lawmakers’ ability to compromise on this legislation,” said Mehan.  “We implore the legislature not to let all of the work that has gone into this debate be for nothing.”

For press requests on this release, please contact Karen Buschmann, vice president of communications for the Missouri Chamber, at 573.634.3511 or kbuschmann@mochamber.com.