There is a new Rural Economic Development Caucus in the Missouri Legislature. The Missouri Times writes about it here. This is an important geography that has struggled for attention for too long. Kudos to Rep. McGaugh for highlighting the need.
Agriculture is a key component of Missouri's economy -- According to a study conducted by the Missouri Department of Agriculture in 2016(which you can find in our Library), agriculture, forestry and related industries in Missouri contributed:
- $33.0 billion (9.3% of Missouri total) in value-added o $88.4 (14.8% of Missouri total) billion in sales minus $55.4 billion in inputs
- 378,232 (10.5% of Missouri total) jobs
- $17.5 billion (9.3% of Missouri total) in labor income
- $2.2 billion in state/local taxes
- $4.0 billion in federal taxes
But economic development in small town Missouri can, and should, reach beyond that. The caucus hopes to address infrastructure, education, and workforce development obstacles that limit job creation.
Many of small towns don't have access to broadband. How do you expand your market reach if you can't communicate with potential customers on the other side of the state, let alone the other side of the world? Without a solid education system for K-12 in rural Missouri, those kids start college and careers two steps behind kids from suburban districts. (There are 15 school districts that currently operate on a 4 day week due to budget constraints.) And then there are the difficulties in recruiting companies to these smaller communities because there is a limited workforce with the skills that industry is looking for today.
Hawthorn has implemented an Infrastructure Committee to find ways that we can directly help business recruitment in rural Missouri -- developing rail-ready sites, suitable building stock, utility needs and more.
Missouri can't succeed without a growing economy covering the landscape between our 2 urban anchors. The Rural Economic Development Caucus is a welcomed addition to the leadership that great champions of job creation like Sen. Richard and Sen. Wasson are providing everyday.