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The Moniteau County Regional Economic Development Council discussed the results of its 2019-20 Startup Moniteau/LaunchU class at its regularly monthly meeting.

The group finished up its course earlier this month, with eight entrepreneurs successfully graduating. The joint winners of the class pitch contest were siblings Cody and Jeremy Koechner, who will one day run their family business, Koechner Manufacturing Company.

The two affirmed how helpful the program was in helping them to learn about what resources are available to business owners, and for learning new ideas regarding building and sustaining a business.

The group also discussed its 2020-21 officer slate, which will remain the same as the past year's set: Calen Bestgen, chairman; Norris Gerhart, vice-chairman; Becky Lawson, treasurer; and Sarah Bestgen, secretary.

MRED will continue to host Lunch and Learns, with Co-Mo Electric Cooperative presenting to Moniteau County school districts this month.

"In my years leading the organization, all I hear from businesses is 'We can't find and keep the employees we need,' so this is a way we're (helping) that," MRED president Mike Kelley said.

MRED's board met last week prior to the regular monthly meeting and decided each member should aim to bring at least one member investor to a meeting in the next year, along with one new program idea. Along the lines of programming, Kelley mentioned last month's Central Missouri Business Leaders speaker, Tina Kirchoff, could potentially be an individual to bring in to speak at an evening event in the future, were the group to plan one.

The next Central Missouri Business Leaders speaker is Hilary Hollon, of Hollon Family Chiropractic, which is new to the Moniteau County community after having started a location in California near the end of last year. The meeting was originally scheduled to take place this morning — due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, it has been postponed until further notice.

At the time of last week's meeting, RSVPs for next month's annual meeting April 9 sat at just less than 40. The event is still set to take place as planned, with Kelley stating he would update those who plan to attend if plans are forced to change due to the spread of COVID-19. Kelley said he is still taking RSVPs for the meeting through Friday.

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