Economic Development

Trends

EDAThe Green Hills Regional Planning Commission is recognized by the Economic Development Administration as an Economic Development District charged with the responsibility to provide technical assistance and support to economic development efforts occurring throughout the region. During program year 2007/2008, the District was contacted by several communities interested in renovating their downtown areas, attracting entrepreneurs, and creating business opportunities in the alternative fuels industry.

Economic trends throughout the global economy has caused a pendulum swing from the ideals of traditional economic development "attraction" to the realistic concept of growing from within and building on existing quality of life and natural resources which are abundant throughout the District. Many communities are working with long-standing, locally owned, existing businesses, which are nearing the point of selling or transferring due to the age and/or health of the current owner. The strategy includes utilizing resources to "match" prospective buyers with current owners and stressing to all locally owned businesses the importance of succession planning.

Another pendulum swing that the District is experiencing is the desire of young adults with families to move back to their home communities from metropolitan areas where they had applied their educational and occupational skills. The lure of the rural quality of life that offers families affordable living with rural amenities, such as the support of extended family, is appealing to this generation and many are returning to fill professional openings or start their own business.

The natural resources within the District are serving to provide the raw product needed for the development of ethanol, bio-diesel, and wind energy facilities. At this time, an ethanol plant is operational in Carroll County and a bio-diesel facility is under construction in that same county. Wind farm sites are being considered in several locations throughout the District and the usage of by-products from these renewable energy sources are providing opportunities for businesses to develop creating the setting for an alternative fuel business cluster.

The nostalgic and eclectic attributes of the baby-boomer generation, among other factors, are stimulating the renovation of historic and unique downtown structures for niche market and artisan small business ventures. Many communities are beginning to recognize the downtown, original heart of their communities, are "diamonds in the rough" waiting to be again appreciated and developed into cultural gems for the enjoyment of generations to come.

Challenges

The condition of the public infrastructure within the District ranks as one of the top issues of importance to the survival and future development of communities throughout the region. Antiquated water, sewer, distribution, and waste water systems are presenting local officials and District staff challenges in addressing the costs associated with upgrades or new systems. In addition to the infrastructure demands, the new EPA water quality standards will soon be affecting District communities as well. As the water standards become stricter, and the infrastructure needs perpetuate, officials will have no choice but to raise water and sewer rates and seek bonding capacity to assist with the financial burden of upgrades or replacements.

In the Northwest and Northeast portions of the region, water supply is an issue of great importance. District staff participate in the Northwest Water Coalition, a task force assembled to address the water distribution in the Northwest corner of the state. The District is assisting Caldwell and Sullivan Counties in the development of two large lakes to be used as a raw water source to alleviate water supply issues in these counties during short and long term drought conditions.

Due to the recent State of Missouri's emphasis on improving the Highway systems throughout the state, the region has recently experienced improvements to the main transportation arteries within the District. Highway 6, from Interstate 35 to just east of Trenton has recently been vastly improved with wider shoulders, new surfaces, and the remediation of very narrow/hilly passage ways. Bordering the southern edge of the District, Highway 36 will soon be a four lane state highway from Hannibal to St. Joseph, and Highway 63 on the eastern edge of the region, will also be renovated to four lane status. Other improvements include work on Highway 136, on the north border of the region and Highway 65, running north and south, will receive surface and shoulder work soon. In addition, many bridges and culverts have received attention, resulting in the best transportation infrastructure the District has enjoyed in decades.

However, as available funds quickly dwindle and the uncertainty of how the never ending transportation maintenance needs of the state and region continue to grow, it is uncertain at this time how the needed level of funding will be maintained. District staff continues to work diligently with MoDOT, local officials, and citizens to provide education regarding the impending need to raise funds through taxes, surcharges, toll roads etc. to maintain the recent improvements made to the system.

Show Me Ethanol

Show Me EthanolShow Me Ethanol, located in Carroll County, completed construction and began production in early Spring 2008. The construction price tag of the facility was over $33 ml. and 20+ jobs have been created at the present time. Green Hills Regional Planning Commission was successful in obtaining an EDA infrastructure grant on behalf of the county to assist with the construction of an access road to the ethanol plant. The asphalt road was completed in July 2008 and provides passage from Highway 24 to the ethanol plant. The EDA grant provided $385,000 towards the cost of the access road, while Show Me Ethanol contributed $430,685.00 in private investment for a project total of $815,685.07.


Continental Fabricating

CFSLack of necessary access infrastructure, in the existing Carrollton Industrial Park, posed a hurdle for the city as they worked to attract a new manufacturer, Continental Fabricating, to the community. The city entered an economic development agreement with the company in which the city provided land and the company committed to private investment necessary to construct a building, and purchase equipment and inventory. To assist with the extension of the Industrial Park's access road, Planning Commission staff, on behalf of the City, prepared a CDBG Economic Development grant which was funded in the amount of $170,000.00. The extension included concrete paving, curb/guttering, and storm drains, which, when completed, provided access for the company but also provides infrastructure that the city can build on to further expand the available land at the Industrial Park. The project resulted in over $1,650,000.00 in private investment and created 27 jobs with salaries averaging $23.00 per hour, well above the average wage of the region. The company fabricates metal pipe for the pipeline industry and plans to expand their business in the future.

Community Strategic Planning

Strategic planning sessionIn order for a community to move forward they must first lay a good foundation which is accomplished by strategic planning, when conducted properly, results in the development of a framework to guide a community as they develop for the future. The City of Brunswick recognized the need for planning for their community and utilized the services of the Green Hills Planning Commission staff to assist them with the process. Four community meetings were held in Brunswick where citizens identified the community's strengths and weaknesses, identified projects that needed to be completed and concluded with ranking the top four areas which would be addressed first. Committees representing the four areas were established and are meeting regularly to work through the implementation phase. Plans call for GHRPC to visit the community again in January 2009 to learn how the committees are progressing and provide any assistance that may be necessary to move the plan forward