Kander Wants To Connect Entrepreneurs, End Job Poaching

Photo by Philip Joens/Missouri Business Alert
Jason Kander spoke at an entrepreneurial conference Friday in Columbia about his vision for the growth of Missouri's economy. | Photo by Philip Joens/Missouri Business Alert

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander wants to focus on growing Missouri’s economy by building small businesses instead of attracting large corporations to the state.

Kander spoke to a group of several hundred entrepreneurs and local business leaders Friday in Columbia at the #Boom conference. Columbia’s Regional Economic Development Inc. held the event to foster entrepreneurship in Mid-Missouri. During his remarks, Kander talked about what can be done to stop “job poaching” and foster entrepreneurship in Missouri.

Kander said that attracting large businesses from one state and bringing them to another may temporarily benefit a local and state economy, but the benefits often don’t last once tax credits in a state expire. When a company jumps from state to state looking for tax breaks, it does not help state economies or the U.S.’s economy in the long run, Kander said. He called this practice “job poaching.”

“The truth is that job poaching, trying to move one big company to another state, drains the resources of a state,” Kander said. “It’s really money that can be spent on other things. Sometimes it works, but a lot of the time it’s just a way to not grow jobs, but to move jobs from one state to another. It’s just free agency.”

A year ago, Kander started the Business Outreach Office. Starting a business can often be about networking as much as it about the product itself. So, the Business Outreach Office helps connect entrepreneurs to existing organizations, like KCSourceLink a Kansas City-based organization that works to connect small businesses to the resources to help them grow.

Kander also wants corporations and small businesses to work together in Missouri. One way that Kander wants to create small business is by connecting entrepreneurs with large businesses.

“A lot of the large corporate partners are interested in growing local businesses within the state because it helps everybody,” Kander said. “Some of the larger Kansas City companies dedicate some of the space within their buildings to many incubators so that they will bring in entrepreneurs and budding companies to use their area as their workspace, which provides them with the ultimate mentorship from a larger successful company and automatic contacts throughout the community.”

In an interview after his talk Friday, Kander spoke about his plan to reform Missouri’s campaign finance laws.  In January Kander proposed a plan to crack down on gifts to lobbyists and political action committees and introduced a plan that would ban all gifts from lobbyists and place limits on the amount of money that PACs can contribute to campaigns. In December Kander proposed a ballot initiative that would limit contribution limits to $500 per House candidate and $1,000 per senate candidate.

Kander said that by limiting the money that PACs give to campaigns, he hopes to make candidates more accessible to the citizens. Kander’s plan does not cap the amount of money that an individual can give to a PAC.

“I’m passionate about campaign finance reform,” Kander said, “because I think it’s important that the people of Missouri feel that they have a voice in their government.”

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