Greitens establishes state innovation task force

Gov. Eric Greitens on Monday announced the launch of the Governor’s Innovation Task Force, which he has charged with assessing the status of innovation in Missouri and developing recommendations for improving the climate for technology startups in the state.

The task force will “bring together private, nonprofit, and public sector leaders” from across the state to “promote innovation,” according to a press release from the governor’s office. The group is scheduled to finish its work by the end of August.

Drew Erdmann, who Greitens tabbed in January as the state’s first chief operating officer, will sponsor the project with assistance from the Hawthorn Foundation.

The Hawthorn Foundation is a nonprofit of businesses and community leaders that in the past has funded executive projects related to economic development.

According to a letter from Hawthorn’s chair, Al Purcell, the governor and the team are “squarely focused on job creation and economic growth.”

Also this week, Hawthorn has named a new executive director, Steven T. Oslica, who Purcell writes will “work very closely with the administration to support its efforts to grow Missouri’s economy.”

Oslica, who’s a director of international business for H.B. Fuller in St. Louis, will take over the Hawthorn role effective July 1. He replaces Margaret Onken, who started serving as the foundation’s executive director on an interim basis in February 2015.

“During her time with Hawthorn, she re-energized our membership; grew our financial commitment to the Missouri Partnership and represented Missouri’s business interests on nine international trade missions,” Purcell wrote in his letter.

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