Gov. Jay Nixon was in Bolivar today at Teters Floral Products, a global exporter of floral arrangements and other products, to discuss Missouri Works, a comprehensive strategy to create career opportunities for Missourians in the new economy. The Missouri Works strategy will:
* Grow more auto supplier jobs in Missouri;
* Sell more Missouri-made goods overseas;
* Prepare more workers for high-tech careers;
* Train and hire more veterans;
* Jumpstart innovation in science and technology;
* Target high-growth industries; and
* Create jobs in rural communities.
"My number one priority for 2012 is to create jobs and keep moving our economy forward," said Gov. Nixon. "Missouri Works provides several specific steps we can take right now to bring new employers to Missouri; help existing businesses grow; and create more jobs and career opportunities for folks across the state. We can't afford to wait one single day when it comes to creating jobs and growing our economy, and I'm working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to put this bold strategy into action as quickly as possible."
Missouri Works builds on the foundation established by the Missouri Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth. Launched in May 2010, the Strategic Initiative engaged 600 business, education and labor leaders from across Missouri to develop a comprehensive strategy to transform the state's economy.
The key pillars of Missouri Works are:
* Grow more auto supplier jobs in Missouri
With Ford and GM both making historic investments to create more than 3,200 new jobs in Missouri, Gov. Nixon's strategy capitalizes on this landmark opportunity to attract new automotive suppliers to Missouri and help existing suppliers grow. Automotive suppliers are located in every corner of Missouri. But as Ford and GM prepare to manufacture new products in Kansas City and Wentzville, Missouri has an unprecedented opportunity to help existing suppliers grow and bring thousands of new jobs to our state. Missouri Works will provide an extra jolt to grow and attract suppliers during this critical transformation of the auto industry. During his trip to Detroit last week, Gov. Nixon met with top executives from Ford and GM and some of the leading automotive suppliers to discuss how to bring more jobs and investment to Missouri.
* Sell more Missouri-made goods overseas
Expanding Missouri exports to other countries has been a top priority for Gov. Nixon from Day One. Missouri exports were up $1.2 billion in the first three quarters of 2011, on top of 35 percent growth in 2010. Some of Missouri's largest exports include chemicals, electrical components, and copper and other alloys. Last October, Gov. Nixon led a delegation of more than 60 Missouri business and agricultural leaders to China to close a series of agreements to sell $4.6 billion in Missouri goods to Chinese consumers - increasing Missouri's exports to China by more than $1 billion over the next three years. Under Missouri Works, the state of Missouri will establish a "one-stop shop" for Missouri entrepreneurs who want to establish or expand their export business, providing seamless assistance and resources from across state government. Missouri Works also will establish an International Exports Coordinator within the Missouri Department of Agriculture and commit resources to open Missouri export offices in China, Southeast Asia and South America.
* Prepare more workers for high-tech careers
Missouri Works calls for continued investment in worker training, especially in computers, technology and other skills that are vital for modern manufacturing careers. Last year, Gov. Nixon's budget increased the state's investment in the Customized Training Program by 50 percent. This positive investment provided training opportunities for more than 35,000 Missourians at 310 different businesses throughout the state. Missouri Works sustains that record level of investment.
* Train and hire more veterans
From his first day in office, Gov. Nixon has been committed to making Missouri a great place for veterans to live. In 2009, the Governor signed legislation to phase out Missouri state taxes on military retirement income gradually by 2016. In 2010, Gov. Nixon launched Show-Me Heroes, an initiative to encourage Missouri employers to reach out to, recruit and interview military veterans for job openings. To date, Show-Me Heroes has helped secure employment more than 1,000 veterans. The Missouri Works strategy will expand the mission of Show-Me Heroes to provide on-the-job training opportunities for recently separated veterans, including National Guard and reserve personnel and active-duty personnel who recently left the service.
* Jumpstart innovation in science and technology
Last year, leaders on both sides of the aisle worked together to pass the landmark Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, or MOSIRA. This act establishes a fund to help create careers in high-tech, high-growth industries. To jumpstart the vital work of this fund, Gov. Nixon has recommended an immediate investment of $4 million to help high-tech business create jobs. These funds will be invested through the Missouri Technology Corporation as loans or other investments in emerging high-tech businesses.
* Target high-growth industries
The Strategic Initiative identified seven targeted industries ripe for growth and expansion in Missouri: advanced manufacturing; energy solutions; bioscience; health sciences and services; information technology; financial and professional services; and transportation and logistics. Under Missouri Works, Missouri's existing economic incentives will be focused on these targeted industries, ensuring that the state is investing in high-growth businesses that will create career opportunities for Missourians.
* Create jobs in rural communities
Missouri Works also includes incentives to support job-creation in rural Missouri. These performance-based incentives are conditioned on strict job-creation requirements.
The Governor's visit to Teters Floral Products also underscored the importance of increasing Missouri's exports. The company, which began as a small family business in 1957, now has a national and international customer base and attributes more than 15 percent of its sales to exports. The success of companies like Teters helped Missouri exports increase by $1.2 billion in the first three quarters of 2011.
Missouri's unemployment rate is now at its lowest point in three years, and groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are pointing to Missouri as a top state for business growth and expansion.