September 3, 2015

Missouri makes trade agreement with Canada

An agreement has been signed by Governor Nixon that he says will further Missouri trade with Canada. The Governor led a state delegation to Canada this week in an effort to drum up trade and investment business for Missouri. The deal was secured with the province of Alberta and marks the third agreement with a Canadian province in the past 18 months.

Agreement signing with Alberta Premier

Governor Nixon signing agreement with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley

The Governor says the agreement is important for Missouri farmers.

“The individual Missouri farmer understands that international markets are the key to keeping prices competitive,” says Nixon. “They understand that if we continue to have very open markets, the world market will decide the value of agriculture products.”

Nixon says farmers understand that staying competitive internationally is a two-way street.

“It leads to more foreign investment, more organizations in our state, and it leads to good prices for Missouri agriculture products that are shipped around the world,” says Nixon.

There are no specific dollar figures or goods announced as part of the agreement, but Nixon says the relationship building is an important part of the process. The Governor did say he’s hopeful for additional energy investments and he expects Missouri’s agriculture exports to grow with Canada.

Canada is Missouri’s leading export partner, with more than $4.7 billion in Missouri goods going to Canada last year. Missouri’s top exports to Canada in 2014 were in the areas of transportation equipment ($2.08 billion); chemicals ($657 million); machinery ($438 million); and food products ($392 million).

 

 

 

Nixon and Missouri delegation headed to Canada to push for expanded exports

A delegation of state officials including Governor Jay Nixon will travel to the Canadian province of Alberta next week, August 16-19, to try and drum up additional trade exports. In meetings with business and government leaders, the Governor’s office said he will also seek to strengthen opportunities for additional investments by Canadian companies in Missouri and participate in a conference of energy industry executives and stakeholders.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D)

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D)

“The more goods we export abroad, the more jobs we create here at home and that’s why I’ve made it a priority to market the ‘Made in Missouri’ brand worldwide,” says Nixon.

“Canada is Missouri’s leading export partner, and an ideal market to continue to boost exports of the products Missouri businesses and farmers produce,” said Nixon. “Canadian businesses have also made Missouri a leading location for investment and I look forward to expanding our reputation as a state with skilled workers and a business-friendly climate.”

The Governor’s office said Canada purchased more than $4.7 billion in Missouri goods last year. The province of Alberta is one of Canada’s most prosperous provinces, with strong energy, agriculture and technology industries. Missouri’s top exports to Canada in 2014 were transportation equipment ($2.08 billion); chemicals ($657 million); machinery ($438 million); and food products ($392 million).

Joining Governor Nixon on the trade mission will be First Lady Georganne Nixon and Mike Downing, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Travel costs for Governor and Mrs. Nixon will be covered by the Hawthorn Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting economic growth in Missouri

 

 

Missouri home sales increase

Missouri Realtors Association CEO John Sebree

Missouri Realtors Association CEO John Sebree

Missouri is following the national trend of increased home sales with a continued jump by nearly 20% compared to June 2014. In the second quarter, there was a 23% increase in national home sales.

Missouri Relators Association CEO John Sebree says homes are selling faster than previous years.

“The number of days homes are on the market has fallen 7.4% compared to June 2014,” says Sebree.

Sebree says there has been a very diverse group of home buyers this year, with some people downsizing and others moving from their starter homes to bigger properties in order to accommodate growing families.

Kansas City first in Missouri to approve minimum wage hike

The Kansas City council has voted to increase the minimum wage for businesses in the city, but members wonder whether the hike will stand.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James

Kansas City Mayor Sly James

The council passed an ordinance that would on August 24 set the minimum wage in Kansas City at $8.50 an hour; an increase from the state’s minimum wage of $7.65. It would then increase that minimum annually on January 1, eventually to 13-dollars in 2020 and based on the cost of living each year after that.

Councilman Ed Ford said being the first city to pass such an ordinance makes Kansas City a target.

“We will be the first and only city in Missouri to have an enacted a minimum wage statute so we will bear the brunt of all the lawsuits and the legal shenanigans that go on,” said Ford, who cast the only vote against the ordinance. “We will not have the final say today. We know this is going to go to court. We know that the legislature next January will probably strike down whatever we pass. There may be a referendum. There may be a petition.”

Ford said to pass the ordinance with the potential challenges it will face would present a “false hope” to people trying to make a living.

Kansas City council staff have also said that enforcement of such ordinances has proven the greatest challenge in Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

Mayor Sly James acknowledged the ordinance’s lack of an enforcement mechanism, but despite such concerns he supported the plan.

“Why are we doing it? Because we believe that it is moral and right to try to give people a higher wage so that they can live better,” said James.

Proponents hope the vote will prove a higher wage works so that the state and other cities will follow.

The increase would only apply to those 18 and older and exempts government employees except Kansas City employees, as well as apprentices, certain charity workers and volunteers, and interns working for academic credit.

Tipped worker’s pay would be at least half the state’s minimum wage.

Top amounts for Access Missouri scholarships increases

College students have the opportunity to receive more funding through Access Missouri scholarships. The maximum scholarship award has increased from $660 to $850 for students attending two-year schools and from $1,500 to $1,850 for those attending four year colleges.

Jay-Nixon-headshot-feat

Governor Jay Nixon

Governor Jay Nixon says the increase is good for the economy.

“We count on students to graduate, get jobs and spend money. If students are graduating, getting jobs and paying us back, that doesn’t really help the economy at the level we need.”

Nixon says student loan debt is an increasing problem.

“There’s more than a trillion dollars by students. There’s more student loan debt in America today than there is credit card debt. It’s unbelievable.”

The money for the increase was released by the Governor from the fiscal year 2015 budget. Those funds will be used in the upcoming school year.

Access Missouri is a needs-based scholarship program to help students of low-income families attend a participating Missouri college or university. Approximately 50,000 students receive an Access Missouri scholarship annually.