Columbia REDI recognizes economic development efforts, accreditation at annual meeting

Columbia’s Regional Economic Development Inc. celebrated high-profile economic development efforts and its recent accreditation from the International Economic Development Council at its annual meeting Thursday night.

REDI’s board of directors, investors and staff, along with Columbia Mayor Brian Treece and other city officials, filled a conference room at the Central Bank of Boone County to celebrate REDI’s recognition from the IEDC as an Accredited Economic Development Organization.

REDI is one of 60 economic development organizations that carry that distinction, initially announced in September. Glenn “Skip” Smallwood Jr., who attended Thursday’s event on behalf of the IEDC, said that less than 1 percent of economic development organizations receive the recognition. REDI is the fourth development organization in Missouri to earn it.

REDI’s ability to attract projects, like Aurora Organic Dairy Company’s $100 million investment in a new facility, and its work to help retain a 3M facility stood out to the IEDC, Smallwood said.

“Retention is really even more critical than the attraction, even though the attraction gets all the buzz,” said Smallwood. “I’m sure when Amazon finally comes out and announces who gets headquarters No. 2, everybody will celebrate, but everybody forgets it’s those existing companies that are really the bread and butter.”

REDI, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2018, touted $324 million in capital investment it has helped attract in the past year from companies including Aurora Organic Dairy, American Outdoor Brands, Kraft Heinz, Dana Light Axle Products and Nanova Biomaterials Inc.

The IEDC’s accreditation committee was also impressed by REDI’s entrepreneurship programs with the University of Missouri and its Innovation HUB, a co-working space in downtown Columbia. Additionally, the accrediting organization praised the level of involvement from REDI’s stakeholders.

“The stakeholders are very engaged,” Smallwood said. “They want this organization to succeed, they believe in this organization, and they look at REDI as, basically, the vehicle to spur more economic growth.”

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