The Moniteau Regional Economic Development Council (MRED) is looking to build a stronger county-wide effort to prop up the area's economy in 2023.
The organization met for its first meeting of the year at Burgers Smokehouse on Wednesday. After a six month hiatus, returning MRED president Mike Kelley came back to help reinstall the organization's regular meetings as well as guide programs such as Start Up Moniteau.
In the meeting, members discussed childcare in the workforce, retooling MRED for the future, community engagement and how to develop a stronger business model for the county.
Kelley said MRED is hosting a business roundtable with entities within the county on issue of childcare and daycare. He said more people are dropping out of the workforce to care of their children, especially in the face of rising costs.
"The cost of childcare is more than some of them are making per year," Kelley said. "I'm not knocking childcare providers because they have to pay their employees and get in food and supplies at the same cost as everybody else. So we wanted to bring the business community together, basically, and see what next steps we can take and possible community solutions to this issue."
According to the discussion, the subject of daycare has been facing several issues regarding parents and businesses. While parents are having trouble finding affordable daycare, these businesses are also finding trouble staying opening due to lack of employees, poor treatment from other parents and government regulation.
He said MRED is hosted a facilitated discussion on Jan. 20 at the Co-Mo Connect Operation Center to go over what can be done with employers.
The conversation quickly turned to how to improve community engagement with the county. Kelley mentioned business attraction and expansion as well as other committees that could be attended by members. However, he asked members if there were programs they needed to disband or add. He said he was open to suggestions on where MRED can go moving forward.
When discussing the economic development in Moniteau, members turned their attention to California.
They stressed California needs to diversify its industry to continue to survive and thrive. Should either Cargill or Burger's Smokehouse, two of California's biggest employers, leave the area it would cause a major blow to the city's progress and economy.
Members asked Mayor Rich Green about progress for Cobblestone Hotel, which was pitched to prominent business owners in the city. The company needs a 30 percent investment from local entities and individuals before building, however, Green said no one has put any funding into the project.
Concerns over smaller businesses closing down in the area were also addressed, with the issue extending out past California and into Moniteau county. Later in the discussion, how to sell the county to potential business owners and residents was brought up. It was pitched that it might be best to emphasize school districts, housing, places for employment for workers and places to play for children. Focus on what it already in the area and capitalize on it to get others interested in Moniteau.
The idea to try and create a united front between schools, chambers of commerce, city governments and county government was agreed upon by members as a good step in the right direction. The question is, however, how to get to that point.
Joe Lutz, former mayor of Tipton and current Moniteau county presiding commissioner, demonstrated a plan of action to work together in smaller pockets and move toward building relationships with other cities in the area. He said it would be a great idea if both he, the new mayor of Tipton and the mayor of California came together on a way to sell Moniteau County. He emphasized using slogans, bumper stickers and social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, etc. to promote the county to a wider demographic.
"You have to kind of put that out there and make it known. You're doing this shotgun advertising - boom, boom, boom. Put it out there...until people see it," Lutz said. "I think you need to come up with that type of a symbol of what you're wanting to do. And then so that becomes universally recognized again."
He said once people discover an opportunity to develop a project in Moniteau then cities have new commerce to work with. Although, this would include making sure there is a place where entrepreneurs can find resources to operate their business. Lutz stressed once individuals have a grasp on what they're doing then they'll start to come forward with new ideas for innovation.
Kelley asked members to give the ideas on this subject some thought as they prepare to meet again in February. With meetings returning, MRED members will continue to catch up and focus on enhancing the county's economic output.