It’s slow progress, but progress nonetheless. Governor Nixon applauds business investments in the towns of Houston and Cuba this week, adding 85 and 37 jobs in those towns, respectively. That adds on to announcements for hundreds of jobs in recent weeks.
“Over the last six weeks or so we’ve seen IBM come to central Missouri with 800 jobs, We’ve seen Mamtek come to Moberly with 400 jobs, we’ve seen Unisys come to St. Louis with 300 jobs, we’ve seen Jet Midwest come to Kansas City with 500 jobs, we’ve seen Expedia come to Springfield with 500 new jobs. Those were all very competitive choices, it wasn’t just, ‘we’re coming to Missouri’ at the beginning of that process. We had to go out and compete in that area,” Nixon said.
The state offered tax incentives in most of those cases. Nixon says he expects more jobs announcements announcement next week, as well. But the unemployment rate in the state is still at 9.2%.
“We have stayed below the national average on unemployment for the last six months. We’ve had a net job gain and continued to, I think, invest correctly. We all would like to see the economy come back much more quickly. But when you compare Missouri to other states, we’ve been able to do all this and keep our stellar triple-A credit rating because we’ve been fiscally prudent with the dollars folks give us,” Nixon said.
Nixon points out that the triple-A bond rating allows the state to get much lower interest loans, for instance a recent bond issue got a rate of 2.28%. He says we’re the only state in the Midwest with that rating from all three credit agencies. He says this helps as the state continues to compete to try to bring in new jobs, or at least keep the ones it has.
“I think they’re solid signs, I really do. Are we there yet, to where we want to be? No. Do we have challenges? Yes. Are we going to need to continue to invest our resources sharply and use our economic development tools crisply? Yes,” Nixon said.