Missouri’s governor says more than 40,000 new jobs have been created since he took office in June 2018 and that the state’s 3.1 percent unemployment rate is at a historic low.

North Carolina-based Nucor is building a $400 million steel rebar manufacturing plant in west-central Missouri’s Sedalia (August 2019 file photo courtesy of Nucor)

During this week’s State of the State Address, Governor Mike Parson (R) emphasized the success of Missouri’s economy, and took the opportunity to highlight rural Missouri towns that are seeing capital investment.

Parson tells state lawmakers that big cities aren’t the only ones generating new jobs.

“Aurora Organic Dairy opened a new processing plant in Columbia, creating over 100 new jobs,” Parson says. “And Purina invested $115 million to expand in Bloomfield, Missouri.”

Bloomfield, a southeast Missouri town of about 1,900, is north of Dexter. Parson traveled there in September to tour the Nestle Purina plant, which makes Tidy Cats brand cat litter.

The plant’s expansion is creating about 30 new jobs, and the state Department of Economic Development (DED) says the expansion is adding a 110,000 square foot processing and packaging facility.

Parson met with Nestle CEO Mark Schneider in Switzerland in June, during his first European trade mission. The governor has noted that Nestle employs more than 3,500 Missourians in Bloomfield, Chesterfield, Earth City, Gray Summit, St. Joseph, St. Louis and Trenton.

During Wednesday’s State of the State, Governor Parson also announced that North Carolina-based Nucor Steel is close to starting production at its $400 million steel mill in Sedalia. Parson also announced that gasoline engine manufacturer Briggs and Stratton is creating 130 new jobs in southeast Missouri’s Poplar Bluff.

State DED Director Rob Dixon praises the news.

“These are companies that are international companies that are looking at Missouri and looking at rural Missouri in particular because of the strength of our workforce, the quality of the people that live here,” says Dixon.

The steel mill in west-central Missouri’s Sedalia is one of the largest projects Missouri has landed in the past decade. The average salary for a Nucor steelworker will be $65,000.

The governor says the average salary for the 130 new jobs at Briggs and Stratton in Poplar Bluff will be $36,531. The company is investing $15 million in the expansion.

Briggs and Stratton is already one of the largest employers in Poplar Bluff, according to the Chamber of Commerce there.

The governor also discussed the eastern Missouri town of Wentzville, during State of the State.

Parson says the decision by General Motors (GM) to invest $1.5 billion into its plant in Wentzville represents one of the largest single-project investments from the private sector in Missouri. Director Dixon tells Missourinet that GM’s Wentzville plant supports about 12,000 jobs across Missouri.

“We secured the long-term viability of that plant in Wentzville. That benefits not just Wentzville, but the entire state,” Dixon says.

DED says out of Missouri’s 227 automotive suppliers, 178 supply GM.

The Wentzville plant produces the GMC Canyon and the Chevrolet Colorado. About 4,600 employees work there.

Wentzville, which is known as the “Crossroads of the Nation”, is one of Missouri’s fastest-growing cities. It sits on I-70 in St. Charles County.

Its current population is about 41,000. The city’s website notes Wentzville’s population jumped from 6,896 in 2000 to 29,070 in the 2010 census.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and State Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon, which was recorded on January 15, 2020 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City:

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