We are building something here

DanThis summer I had the pleasure of serving on the Governor’s Innovation Task Force. It was an honor to be chosen by Gov. Eric Greitens to work alongside many of our state’s top doers and most creative business minds.

Our task force was charged with finding ways to bolster economic innovation and help startups thrive here. We hosted workshop meetings across Missouri. We studied what other states are doing and looked for ways to utilize Missouri’s existing assets in new, exciting ways.

We completed our work in early September and delivered a report to Gov. Greitens that included more than 30 recommendations for the governor and state lawmakers to consider.

You can read the whole report on our website, mochamber.com, but here are a few highlights.

We suggested that Missouri could set up a formal statewide system to connect entrepreneurs with experienced mentors. We recommended ways to spur startup growth in rural areas. We put forward several workforce training ideas, including the commonsense suggestion that our state should promote entrepreneurship as a mainstream career choice that young people should consider pursuing.

However, the most headline-grabbing suggestion was our plan to establish a Missouri innovation fund that would be used to bolster our most promising startups.

This fund is innovative because it isn’t reliant on a big, new (read unrealistic) appropriation from an annually cash-strapped state budget. Rather, we designed this fund to use existing state resources in a new way. It would take advantage of our state’s AAA credit rating to help attract institutional and private-sector investors and other capital — in essence multiplying the amount of capital our state has available to invest in early-stage companies.

Ideas like this have me excited for Missouri. There is a new energy in our state.

Innovative new ideas are taking root here, and we are finally starting to overcome some of our longest-held barriers to growth and prosperity. Regulatory issues are beginning to ease. Our legal climate has dramatically improved. We have a renewed focus on addressing workforce issues and solving our transportation issues. I’m also seeing a state that’s more willing to leave regional differences behind and unite behind common goals that will raise us all.

This is exactly what we hoped to accomplish when we launched Missouri 2030 almost three years ago. The progress we’ve seen validates our idea that strong business leadership can move our state forward and position us to compete globally. See our Missouri 2030 progress here.

I also want to thank Gov. Greitens for his outstanding work during his first year in office. He has brought an infectious energy to Missouri. He has the will to rebuild our state and do it as quickly as possible. He also understands that his supporting team is essential to his success, and the team his administration has assembled has intellectual firepower unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the governor’s office.

Gov. Greitens is also a strong supporter of our work with Missouri 2030, and his fingerprints are all over the progress we’ve made. Read our Q&A with the governor here.

The easiest way to describe it is that we are building something here in Missouri. It’s not done. There’s still much work to do.

But the foundation is here — and it’s going to be great.

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