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NEMO business leaders gather to discuss future

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Northeast Missouri business leaders met at the Hannibal Country Club to listen to Dan Mehan, president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry Thursday.

Mehan laid out the chamber’s Missouri 2030 plan, a strategic plan to spur growth though drivers like workforce development, infrastructure improvements and legal and regulatory policy changes.

General manager Kenna Bouge was one of the roughly 70 people to come out and listen to the talk.

She said she's no stranger to the problems facing Missouri's business community, especially when it comes to the workforce

"Not even just hiring and turnover which you would expect from a restaurant, but finding people that after you've made the hire that are willing to continue come to work and prepared to come to work," she said.

Mehan said she's not alone.

"Whether you're in Hannibal, St. Louis or Sikeston, you're having trouble finding qualified workers," he said.

Mehan said the Chamber launched the 2030 plan five years ago to try and change that.

"At that time Missouri was ranked 42nd in job creation, 43rd in state GDP growth and 39th in per capita income," he said. "So that was not acceptable."

Mehan said the plan focuses on economic "drivers" like workforce development, talent acquisition and infrastructure improvements.

He said the last step is uniting the Missouri business community to achieve a common goal.

Bogue said that won't be a problem here in Hannibal.

"The amount of people who came out on a snowy day when no one really wanted to get out, to come and listen to this," she said. "It's a pretty great, united group of people."

Mehan said they’ve been able to turn ideas into action.

He said the chamber made 31 recommendations in a 2018 workforce development report.

He says 14 made it into legislative initiatives in Jefferson City last year.

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Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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