Missouri to host regional workforce development meetings, statewide economic summit

Missouri higher education and economic development officials will host several events across the state over the next three weeks focused on developing Missouri’s workforce and growing its economy.

The state’s departments of higher education and economic development, along with the Missouri Development Finance Board and the Hawthorn Foundation, launched the Talent for Tomorrow initiative in May to size up Missouri’s workforce. The goal of the initiative is to produce an assessment of how the state’s current labor pool aligns with employer needs, look at different economic scenarios to help build a workforce system that can adapt as the economy evolves, and identify a pilot project.

The workforce effort will include regional meetings across Missouri, where local stakeholders can provide feedback on current issues and future plans.

The regional meetings will take place in:

“What we’re doing with the regional meetings is really gathering a lot of input,” said Maggie Kost, director of communications for the Missouri Department of Economic Development. “Before you can build a strategy, you have to get to know your state really well and get to know the unique challenges in each region specifically. Once we have all of that data and qualitative information gathered, then we’ll start taking that, synthesizing it and start building recommendations and pilot programs around it.”

Talent for Tomorrow’s final assessment will be unveiled at the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development September 5-7 in Kansas City.

The same group will also host a statewide summit on Wednesday for its Best in Midwest initiative. The initiative aims to create a new statewide strategy for economic development.

Nearly 300 business, economic development and education leaders from across the state are expected to meet in St. Louis to discuss opportunities for growth in Missouri and how the state compares to its Midwestern peers, Kost said.

“We’re really going to ask these leaders to roll up their sleeves and help us to answer some big questions that we need answered before we start building our plan,” she said.

The Best in Midwest initiative will identify Missouri’s opportunities for growth and job creation, study best practices in economic development from around the country, and issue recommendations on how the state can implement the new strategy.

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