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SR asked to give $5,000 to Pulaski County Growth Alliance
ST. ROBERT, Mo. (Nov. 14, 2008) — Aldermen attending Monday’s meeting of the St. Robert City Council will be asked to contribute $5,000 toward a new Pulaski County Growth Alliance and encourage local businessmen to give much more.

At the Nov. 6 meeting of the St. Robert Finance Committee, City Administrator Norman Herren reviewed the history of efforts to promote economic development in the county.

“The Growth Alliance is trying to create a funding mechanism by which they can hire an economic development director,” Herren said. “When we did the study by Preger that talked about job growth in the community, he said that we needed somewhere around $300,000 to $350,000 to fund the program as we needed it.”

That would pay for three employees, Herren said, and office plus travel expenses.

“We knew that we can’t get this; this county cannot support that kind of money, so we started looking at ways that we can reduce that money need,” Herren said.

The Growth Alliance’s finance committee has reviewed financial realities and come back with an annual goal of $125,000 per year and one rather than three employees.

“So how do we get to that or get close to that?” Herren asked. “The Chamber of Commerce has offered to provide an office space for this new economic development person.”

There’s extra office space in the Tourism Bureau’s basement and their secretarial staff can support the economic development staff member, Herren said.

A key meeting will be held on Nov. 19 with breakfast at Waynesville Technical Academy for the county’s five cities and areas businesses to see if finances can be raised with a three-year commitment to hire a competent economic developer.

“It gives us three years to try to be somewhat self-sufficient,” Herren said.

“We need to come up with our share,” Herren said. “I had a telephone conversation with Bruce Harrill the other day; we have found that the county has proposed that they spend $5,000, so my proposal is that we match what the county is paying.”

That’s less than the $10,000 that St. Robert was previously paying for the Regional Commerce and Growth Association, Herren said, which was cut back to $5,000 last year.

“So we’ll continue that forward as we normally do, put it into our current budget, go forward to next year, and see how our finances are?” asked Alderman Theresa Cook, who chairs the finance committee.

Herren strongly supported the proposal.

“I think this is something that is really needed in Pulaski County; Phelps County and Laclede County to the east and west of us already have a countywide economic development person,” Herren said. “We are in a situation here along Interstate 44 and Fort Leonard Wood that we have a golden gift; people want to come here because the Fort has a daily population of over 30,000 people travelling in and out, so our growth has been pretty consistent because of the Interstate and Fort Leonard Wood. There are other places in our county that are not as fortunate, so we want to make sure we can support the whole county.”

Herren said St. Robert doesn’t have good industrial sites, but other communities do.

“That’s one of the things all the surveys keep throwing up with Fort Leonard Wood iis that the spouses of Fort Leonard Wood are really highly educated people, but we don’t have that kind of market job for them. But if we create some industrial sites, create some job opportunities, we are really guaranteeing our community that we are going to be here and be viable for a long time.”

“This is a way that we can support the whole county, and if we don’t, it’s going to be very difficult for us,” Herren said.

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