Do Economic Development Programs Work?

August 16, 2013 6:00 am

Downtown 2Growth, alone, does not secure a community’s future success. That growth needs to include good-paying jobs that will keep rewarding its employees with higher salaries, benefits, and personal satisfaction. One of the major tasks of St. Joseph’s Economic Development team is to target these companies and entice them to plant themselves in our community, and to encourage them to expand in our community.

Over the past 15 years, economic development programs have helped St. Joseph grow in beauty, revitalization, and new establishments throughout all parts of the city. From the original downtown of the 19th century to brand-new retail, health, entertainment, and business developments that are expanding on the north side of the city, St. Joseph is retaining its rich history without getting left in the past.

Much of this growing success is due to the collaboration of the Chamber, Buchanan County and City of St. Joseph employees whose employees work together to plan economic development programs that reach out to new companies while also providing for the residents who are already living here in terms of new amenities.

Well-planned economic development programs can attract globally competitive companies into the community and then help them expand within that community. Those companies, in turn, will attract highly-skilled workers who will bring their talents to the community. The success of economic development programs will ripple throughout the local and state government. More capital investment by targeted companies can expand the tax base and provide more money to improve the community. Strong companies will help the community grow stronger.

In 2008, the City of St. Joseph received the Richard A. King Award for Economic Development for Triumph Foods in the old stockyards. This past May, the city announced that Triumph will be expanding with a $7.5 million capital investment and will create 105 new full-time jobs.

Economic development programs have been working in St. Joseph. Its ripple effect has been felt downtown and on the east side of St. Joseph. Developers have taken vacant brick buildings and transformed them into trendy lofts and living spaces that will help  downtown transform and redefine itself. New shops signs are now starting to appear on the once-empty architecturally ornate facades. Retail and restaurants are retaining some past and bringing the community back to the city’s birthplace along the river.

On the other side of town, the Shoppes at North Village was recently developed and is now continually growing beyond its original 77 acres of shopping and eating establishments. New hotels, coffee shops, and exercise and health facilities are rounding out the north half of the city and offer amenities to the rural northwest region of Missouri.

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