Drinking water—Making a splash in economic development?

Jacob2With California suffering through a massive drought and other regions of the country also facing water woes, Missouri economic development leaders have a new sales pitch—we have water, plenty of it.

Water is a key input for certain types of businesses. And if water is scarce or becoming expensive, that can pose a big problem for companies.

“In many parts of Missouri, those concerns disappear,” said Frank Kartmann, president of Missouri American Water.  “Business planners are beginning to think about the availability of an abundant, reliable water supply as a key element of their growth potential.”

Frank Kartmann, president of Missouri American Water.

Frank Kartmann, president of Missouri American Water.

Kartmann says that not only is Missouri’s water supply plentiful, it’s also competitively priced.

However, is water really becoming a part of the national economic development discussion?

“Absolutely. Dependable water supplies have always been one of the most critical infrastructures for a society or nation to thrive,” says Michael Deane, executive director of the National Association of Water Companies. “Not only can’t businesses and communities function without water, but we literally can’t live without it. It’s difficult to find any positives in dealing with a serious water challenge like the drought, but an increased awareness of the value of water to our communities and everyday lives helps us become better stewards of this precious natural resource.”

In Missouri, economic development leaders are just starting to sell our state’s water supply as a potential reason that companies would want to move here or bring business expansions to our state.

“Really, it’s a new thought in the mind of the economic development community,” said Ann Dettmer, external affairs manager with Missouri American Water. “We have so much water here. We’re right at the confluence of two of the world’s largest rivers. This is a selling point.”

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