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Springfield Business Leaders Discuss Economic Development with Governor Jay Nixon

Freezing historic preservation tax credits and investing in capital projects at universities were two of the ideas Governor Jay Nixon heard from business leaders during a stop in Springfield today. Nixon met with 9 business leaders at the new home of accounting firm BKD on St Louis Street. KSMU’s Missy Shelton was there and files this report.

Governor Jay Nixon is traveling the state to meet with business leaders to determine the opportunities for economic growth, the obstacles hindering growth and how state government can encourage business and workforce development.The meeting began with Chamber of Commerce president Jim Anderson urging the governor to invest in higher education. In particular, Anderson brought up the possibility of the state issuing bonds to fund capital projects.This past session, lawmakers considered but ultimately failed to pass a bond package that would’ve put the state in debt 700 to 800 million dollars to fund building projects. Governor Jay Nixon says he’s planning to meet with legislative leaders this week while they’re in Jefferson City for the annual veto session to discuss a possible bond proposal for the upcoming regular session.

Nixon says, “This is an interesting week. We have the legislative leaders back in Jeff City for a day or two. We’ll have a chance to sit down and check this out. We’ve had great discussions across the state. We are committed to looking at a much more organized capital expenditure program for the state, whether it’s through the normal budgetary process or whether it’s through the potential of a bond issue.”

Another topic that came up during Nixon’s roundtable in Springfield had to do with providing entrepreneurs and successful business owners with capital to expand. Springfield businessman Jack Stack says that’s a way to have a positive impact on the revenue growth of companies. He says right now, successful businesses have hit a ceiling; they’re unable to expand because there’s no capital available to them.

Stack says, “What they do is run successful businesses and they run out of financing. Then they spend the rest of their lives just living within that economic zone and they can’t break out. What we need to do is to be able to address a breakout strategy to give these successful entrepreneurs so they can have access to capital and take their business to another level.”

Stack told the governor that one solution would be to freeze historic preservation tax credits and brownfield tax breaks to free up resources for businesses looking to expand but unable to get capital.When asked if he would consider freezing these tax credit programs, Nixon didn’t rule it out.

Nixon says, “Everything’s on the table when you face a budget challenge like we do. This will be the first time I’ll have a full opportunity of a full year to study budgets so it will, in essence, be the first budget document where we’ve had the chance to drill down. I think looking at what is getting economic generation from these programs is very important. I didn’t disagree with the folks in the senate last year that talked about getting accountability on the tax credit programs we have. There’s progress to be made. Making sure each dollar we spend is spent as effectively as possible means everything’s on the table.”

Nixon will be holding similar meetings across the state in the coming weeks.