St. Louis Record

Friday, November 15, 2019

Missouri Chamber unveils plan to improve business climate in state

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By John Severance | Aug 19, 2019


JEFFERSON CITY – Each year, CNBC ranks the best and worst states when it comes to business. The state of Missouri seems stuck in the middle as it ranked 23rd overall and 27th for its regulatory and legal climate. In all, the Show Me State received a C grade in business friendliness for the second straight year.

Those in charge of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry have unveiled a strategic plan in a quest to improve the state's rankings.

"The Missouri Chamber of Commerce works with our members toward making Missouri more competitive and attractive for businesses," Matt Panik, the vice president of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber, said. "To that end, we have established Missouri 2030, our long-term, strategic plan aimed at uniting the business community behind the shared goal of making Missouri a global economic leader. We have made progress since the inception of Missouri 2030, but more work is needed, and tort reform is one area for improvement.’’

Panik said tort reform affects all employers.

"Tort reform is a policy area that impacts all businesses,’’ Panik said. "The meaningful joinder and venue reform that was passed this legislative session will bring efficiency to our civil justice system. Other tort reform policies we have supported, such as punitive damage reform, will continue to be a priority for the business community. The perception of Missouri having a challenging legal climate – evidenced by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform rankings – is proven to be a reality when we discuss issues with members and see continued large judgments coming out of our courts. We will work for continued progress in improving our legal climate in Missouri.’’

Missouri 2030 project CEO Donald Mehan wrote in a report that Gallup was hired to analyze Missouri's economic position.

"We talked to site selectors, economic developers and more than 1,000 of Missouri’s top CEOs and business leaders to learn about our economic strengths and weaknesses," Mehan wrote. "Our findings were disturbing. Based on Gallup’s research and comparable economic data, we concluded that Missouri was falling behind. Without unified, statewide business leadership and ambitious new efforts, our state’s economic performance was not going to improve. In fact, Missouri’s position would likely get worse compared with other states that were actively addressing employers’ needs."

Mehan said the Chamber focused on things that would impact the state’s economy.

"Missouri 2030 has provided a sense of urgency to the business community and policymakers," Mehan wrote. "The plan has sparked action to enact long-overdue change in economic policy. More important, because Missouri 2030 was written with an eye toward long-term, statewide improvement, the plan will continue to fuel positive change for years to come. We still have a long way to go to get to the Missouri we all want and expect."

The CNBC report gave Missouri high marks for cost of doing business, cost of living and infrastructure. The lowest mark, though, was for quality of life and workforce. The report also said the state had a 1.8 percent in GDP growth and a 3.3 percent unemployment rate.

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Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry

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