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Nixon Tours SW Missouri Explaining Jobs Plan

Governor Jay Nixon was in southwest Missouri Friday to talk about the details on his Show Me JOBS plan. The plan is engineered to create jobs and strengthen small businesses in Missouri. From Joplin, KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports.

As diners ate a down-home breakfast at Granny Schaffer’s Restaurant, in the next room over, their governor elaborated on one of the executive orders he signed earlier this week. The order created a pool of funds for low-interest or interest-free loans for small businesses.

“The first thing will be to set aside the two million dollars. And then we’ll put together a proposal over the coming weeks that lays out how you qualify for this. The target is small businesses. The target is business that can create jobs instantaneously,” Nixon said.

Nixon’s first act as governor was to meet with entrepreneurs from across the state. He said they all voiced the same primary concern.

“First of all, their number one problem was getting capital. They can’t get the small loans they need to add the employees they want to grow their businesses and thus, their profit line is challenging,” Nixon said.

In an unusual display of bi-partisanship, Nixon was flanked by two Republicans on each side: new House Speaker Ron Richard and state Senator Gary Nodler. Nixon said he was optimistic that the plan would continue to receive support from both Democrats and Republicans.

Richard, who’s from Joplin, said he was equally optimistic.

“The economy, the state of the situation in the state of Missouri—people are out of work, as the governor said. And we think that’s important. We want to keep moving on it. And it just transcends politics. Times are tough, you’ve got to work together,” Richard said.

The owner of the restaurant where the leaders met is Mike Wiggins. He declined to say whether he’s a Democrat or Republican. But he would say that he’s just had to lay off his main dishwasher, meaning his cook is now wearing two hats.

Wiggins said the rising cost of food coupled with recent legislation in Missouri increasing the minimum wage for waiters and waitresses has restaurant owners like him in a tight spot.

“So, you either have to raise your prices, which causes inflation that everyone’s worried about. Or you’ve got to lay off people, which causes unemployment, or you go our of business. There’s no magic pot for the money to come out of,” he said.

Wiggins agrees with Nixon that the main problem facing small businesses is a lack of capital needed to do things like fix a pothole in the parking lot or print up new menus. He qualified that statement, however, by saying it’s actually a lack of “affordable” capital.

In addition to low-interest loans for small business owners, Nixon’s plan, if enacted by the legislature, would also create programs for training--and keeping--employees.For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore in Joplin.