Lebanon REDI

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REDI Report – December 31, 2016

Year end brings a chance to reflect on successful year for Lebanon, Laclede County

One thing I always enjoy about the holiday season is the chance to reflect on a previous year and dream about what is to come in the following year. I must say, in many ways, 2016 was a nice step in the continued right direction for Lebanon and Laclede County.

We’ve seen several projects come to life with others on the way. Just drive around Lebanon and Laclede County right now. It is hard to not see some of the new construction going or in some cases, nice renovations to existing businesses. This is a great sign as we leapfrog into 2017.

I have to “tip my cap” as they say to the many employers in our county who have expanded their workforces during the course of the last 12 months. At various times throughout the year, we’ve had hundreds of open jobs available for our citizens. From an unemployment standpoint, we had one of our best years of the last decade. For November 2016, the unemployment rate in Laclede County was 5.3 percent. This was the best percentage rate since the same month 10 years ago in 2006. Again, that is another nice sign for us.

Speaking of local employers, I had the privilege of joining a representative of the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) on a tour of Emerson Climate Technologies a few weeks back. I am literally amazed every time I get the honor to step foot in that facility. Keith Calhoun and the team at Emerson do a great job of creating a product that is literally utilized all over the globe. We forget sometimes the impact that our labor force has beyond our own local borders. Products from our various manufacturers are literally somewhere in every state and multiple countries worldwide. We should never overlook the impact we make as a whole every single day with the finished products developed right here in Lebanon and Laclede County. Trust me – the official from the state was VERY impressed with the company and our community in general. That is something to be proud of.

I’m personally excited to see what 2017 has to behold. There seems to be a wonderful attitude of working together going on at the moment that I truly believe will pay dividends for years to come. We know we’ve had some successes in recent years, but we also realize that things can turn the other way just as easily. It takes an “all in this together” approach to truly be ready to maximize the good times and minimize the effects of the “not-so-good” times. I think our community and county have a team of leaders at various levels of government, in our educational institutions, from business leadership and from every day citizens who want to see us prosper in a positive way. That keeps us in the battle for opportunities. We should all celebrate our wins from 2016 while planning for the coming 12 months to keep that momentum going.

Thank you for the impact you have had in whatever capacity you serve. We’ve often hear that “it takes a village to raise a child” and it also takes a village to create a vibrant economy! Your part should not go unrecognized. The smallest things add up to big success.

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoy it with friends and family, but most importantly be safe!

(Brian Thompson is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Lebanon-REDI. He may be reached at his office at 200 E. Commercial Street at 417-533-5627, by mobile phone at 417-288-9737 or by e-mail at brian@lebanonredi.com)

REDI Report – September 17, 2016

Expo brings excitement for businesses and customers who connect at annual event

It is always fun to get to experience things a “second time around” after you have been somewhere long enough for that to be a possibility. This weekend brings the second time for me to be at the annual Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce/Local Makes Sense Business Expo and Fun Day.

I really enjoyed the festivities last year and was impressed by the vast number of businesses and entities with booths at the event. One of my favorite additions from last year is returning in 2016 for a second straight time and that is the “job fair” portion of the event. Hundreds, yes that is no typo, of jobs are represented Saturday at the expo via both businesses and job agencies. If you know someone looking for work, here’s a great chance to connect with a cross-section of employers who have openings right now in Lebanon and Laclede County.

The Chamber/Local Makes Sense Business Expo and Fun Day will start at 9 a.m. Saturday and runs until 2 p.m. that afternoon at the Cowan Civic Center.

I want to take a moment to reiterate REDI’s appreciation of the unanimous approval of funding our organization received for another year from the Lebanon City Council a couple of weeks back as part of our annual agreement with the city. We are humbled and honored to receive such support from our community and it shows that the City of Lebanon definitely wants to be a continued player in the economic development process. Competition in the economic development world is more intense than it has ever been and those communities with a viable stake in the battle will definitely be more competitive. I commend this city and its leaders for taking such a stand more than a decade ago initially and likewise I applaud our current leaders for keeping the trend going. Thank you!

I really enjoyed the opportunity to represent Lebanon and Laclede County last week at the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Economic Development in Kansas City. The event featured a lot of information that we’ll be able to incorporate into future plans for economic development activities in our community and county. Innovation and creativity was heavily discussed. While we often think of cities having an abundance of such offerings, we can’t overlook the great talent that we have right here in our own backyard. The next great invention may come from the mind of a student currently enrolled in one of our local schools. The challenge is creating a scenario that allows such talent to have the ability to stay right here and be a part of Lebanon and Laclede County. This will always be something to work on and while it is a challenge as mentioned, it is also exciting to explore ways to be successful at this endeavor!

Speaking of Missouri, our state received some good news earlier this week that helps us to be more competitive on the economic development front. The Show-Me State ranked eighth as far as “cost of living” is concerned for the second quarter of 2016. What this means is that, on average, it is more affordable to live and work in Missouri than all but seven other states in the nation. From a marketing standpoint, being able to tout such data gives us a better fighting chance for business opportunities from new or existing companies. Way to go Missouri!

I hope everyone has a great weekend and I hope to see many of you at the Chamber/Local Makes Sense Business Expo and Fun Day!

(Brian Thompson is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Lebanon-REDI. He may be reached at his office at 200 E. Commercial Street at 417-533-5627, by mobile phone at 417-288-9737 or by e-mail at brian@lebanonredi.com)

REDI Report – August 27, 2016

Lots to cheer – on the gridiron and in local economic development

By the time you read this, week two of the 2016 Yellowjacket football season will be in the books. Hopefully we’ll have another notch in the win column to report and Lebanon Mayor Josh Ray can have all the bragging rights in his “Tale of Two Cities” with Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman. All jokes aside, it is nice when two somewhat neighboring communities can have friendly competition that puts a little spotlight on both cities. I commend both mayors for taking to social media to promote the game and their respective communities.

Speaking of things to cheer for, we continued to have solid news on the unemployment front for Lebanon and Laclede County for the month of July. Last month, our unemployment rate was 5.9 percent. This was our lowest July tally since the same month in 2007. The July number was just short of a half percent better than last year’s rate of 6.3 percent as well.

A lot of our employers have been putting people to work and still have openings to fill, so I encourage job seekers to reach out to the Missouri Career Center at (417) 532-6146. I also want to thank the many employers who participated earlier this week in Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s Job Fair at the Cowan Civic Center. While overall foot traffic at job fairs is down from recent years, they are still extremely valuable forums to connect job seekers with employment opportunities. Even if only one person in our local economy found a job, it was well worth doing this event.

Another opportunity to reach job seekers is right around the corner, as the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo is slated for Sept. 17 at the Cowan Civic Center. Last year, the Chamber and Local Makes Sense added a job fair portion to the event to much success and this year looks to yield similar results. Of course, businesses and entities will also be showcasing their offerings as part of the general expo as well. This is a great event that gets interest from thousands so I encourage businesses to participate to get the maximum impact for your business needs. For more details, reach out to Jessica or Darrell at the Chamber at 417-588-3256.

I want to also commend the continued commitment of local businesses for either expanding at their current facilities or even new construction to meet their growing needs. It shows that they value our community as a place to do business not just today or tomorrow, but also years into the future. That is so important when trying to attract others to join our wonderful city and county. I will have some upcoming trips to other states to connect with decision makers to let them know they we are on the map and want to be considered for development opportunities from newcomers and our long tenured entities. Being able to showcase such growth and development gives us much better standing than some communities that are having struggles in other parts of the nation. I say “kudos” to our business community for having such a mindset.

On that note, I want to wish everyone a safe, enjoyable weekend!

(Brian Thompson is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Lebanon-REDI. He may be reached at his office at 200 E. Commercial Street at 417-533-5627, by mobile phone at 417-288-9737 or by e-mail at brian@lebanonredi.com)

State program connects military veteran with Laclede County opportunity

A cooperative effort between the Missouri National Guard and the Missouri Division of Workforce Development (DWD) recently connected a military veteran with a job opportunity in Laclede County.

Premier Auto Rebuilders and Truck Salvage (Premier), located in Phillipsburg, is one of the newest employers to support the Show-Me Heroes Program, which has a mission of connecting the state’s businesses with highly qualified job seekers with military experience and to promote the benefits of hiring Veterans and National Guard and Reserve Service Members.

As a result of the company’s participation in the program, Premier was able to hire Dan Massey as its sales manager and take advantage of on-the-job training reimbursements provided by Show-Me Heroes.

“This program worked out really well,” said Brandon Mott, Premier owner. “It helped us find a really good, quality candidate for our open position.”

Program participation was a simple process for Premier. The company initially reached out to Lebanon Regional Economic Development, Inc., (REDI) after interest from a veteran for the open sales manager position. REDI staff worked with Geoffrey Bieniek, Veteran Employment Specialist with DWD, to provide the company with detailed information on the Show-Me Heroes Program. Premier then coordinated with Dan Burrows, Career Consultant of Gamm Incorporated, to qualify both the company and job candidate for the program’s offerings.

A business can participate in the program if it has taken the “Show-Me Heroes Pledge,” which is available at showmeheroes.mo.gov, the potential job position is full time or a minimum of 32 hours per week and the company is also active in E-verify.  Veterans are eligible if they are honorably discharged and are within one year of their discharge date. Spouses of currently deployed or recently discharged eligible service members may also participate.

When both employer and employee are approved, the worker’s wages are reimbursed 50 percent for up to six months of on-the-job training.

The arrangement is helping Premier off-set the initial training needs of Massey, a St. Louis native who now lives in Sleeper.

“I enlisted into the U. S. Army in 2012 and completed basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood,” said Massey.

After basic training, Massey received additional instruction to become an intel analyst. He was stationed in Germany for two years before transferring to the state of Washington. The Show-Me Heroes program allowed him to receive a skillset he didn’t previously have.

“I think it is a really great program because it allows veterans to get training in a field they have never worked in before,” said Massey. “It gives companies an incentive to hire veterans and it helps takes care of some of the training costs of hiring a new employee that doesn’t have any background or skills in that specific field.

“I had never worked in a salvage yard before,” he added. “I didn’t know anything about working in a salvage yard. This program has allowed me to start working here (Premier) and to obtain the training I need to be successful in this position. The Show-Me Heroes program is helping to make that happen.”

Brian Thompson, president/chief executive officer of REDI, added that the connection between veterans and area employers through the Show Me-Heroes program is another success story for economic development efforts in Laclede County.

“I’m excited to see this opportunity work out in connecting this program with a local employer,” said Thompson. “I encourage other area employers to support this effort. And, this is another example of all hands on deck for the economic development process for our county.”

Thompson noted that veterans will likely have many of the soft skills that employers seek even if they aren’t at first familiar with a particular line of work and also said that the Premier-Massey connection helped bring a new person to the county’s labor force since the military veteran moved to the Sleeper community.

“Any chance we get to grow our quality workforce and attract someone to our county, I think it is only a win-win situation,” said Thompson.

For more information on the Show-Me Heroes program, visit www.showmeheroes.mo.gov or call 417-532-6146.

REDI Report – July 30, 2016

Job fairs and strong reports show continued good signs for city, county efforts

The Laclede County jobs report for the month of June 2016 continued to show positivity. We had an unemployment rate of 5.3 percent, the lowest June percentage since the same month in 2006. Our labor force also grew from May to June, with 186 more people added to the pool of available workers. This is largely a combination of those who haven’t actively sought work, beginning to do so and new high school graduates entering the working world. Regardless, it is all relatively good news. Our average unemployment rate for the first six months of the year was 5.6 percent putting us on pace to have our best overall year since 2007 when we ended the year with that same approximate percentage.

With all the good news, we still have people in the labor pool that need a new job and there are a couple of keynote events where job seekers can meet employers. U. S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler hosts an annual job fair at the Cowan Civic Center in Lebanon. This year’s event will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In years past, those looking for work have actually come away with jobs as a result of attending the event and meeting with area employers. So this is certainly a great place for the two sides to connect. More details on the job fair can soon be found at http://hartzler.house.gov/events.

Also, I encourage any employers reading this column to participate as you just may find the candidate you have been looking for. Steve Walsh, who represents Congresswoman Hartzler, regularly comes to Lebanon and can be reached via a local office telephone at (417) 532-5582.

Another similar opportunity for those looking for jobs to correspond with those offering jobs will take place as part of the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce/Lebanon Local Makes Sense Business Expo. This year’s event takes place at the Cowan Civic Center on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission and/or participation is the low, low cost of absolutely free and more than 4,000 attendees are expected. This is a dual opportunity for local businesses and entities to showcase their goods and services, and as mentioned with the job fair component, for attendees to learn either what is offered by the businesses or what jobs might just be open at the moment.

While that particular event seems far off, I encourage Chamber members to act fast and book your spot as they are filling up quickly and the event date will be here before you know it. If you aren’t a current Chamber member, here’s a great chance to join and participate in a popular annual offering right off the bat! Call Darrell or Jessica at (417) 588-3256 for additional information.

I hope everyone has a safe, enjoyable weekend and don’t forget to get out and vote this Tuesday in local elections!

(Brian Thompson is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Lebanon-REDI. He may be reached at his office at 200 E. Commercial Street at 417-533-5627, by mobile phone at 417-288-9737 or by e-mail at brian@lebanonredi.com)

City of Lebanon, REDI point to aggressive approach in attracting new retail

The announcement of rue21’s pending location in the Lebanon Marketplace is a continued step in the right direction for retail recruitment, according to city and economic development officials. The clothing store is one of several retailers identified as a fit for the community by Buxton, a Ft. Worth, Texas-based industry leader in consumer analytics. The City of Lebanon and Buxton agreed to a 3-year contract for targeted retail development in January.

“Buxton’s analytics help retailers reveal who their customers are, where more potential customers are located and the value of each customer,” said Lebanon City Administrator Chris Heard. “The City of Lebanon and Lebanon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (Lebanon-REDI) have been extra aggressive in seeking retail activity based on the data collected by Buxton for our community. We are seeing the fruits of those efforts beginning to pay dividends for our citizens.”

Rue21 and Sally Beauty, which also located in Lebanon earlier this year, are two retailers suggested as strong candidates for the community according to Buxton’s research. Additionally, Slim Chickens a Buxton client on the retail side of its work has broken ground in Lebanon and is scheduled to open later this year. Based on annual sales estimates for the three retail outlets, local officials believe that the first year city and county sales tax dollars generated by the trio could double the $50,000 investment on the first year of the Buxton agreement, and continue into the future.

“We have had a great year from a retail growth perspective,” said Brian Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Lebanon-REDI. “The partnership of the city, REDI and Buxton is already showing the initial signs of success. Whether we work from the beginning with a lead, enhance a lead or even get attention from a retailer based on Lebanon’s participation in Buxton’s processes, we have set ourselves up for years of aggressive retail attraction. When you combine those facts with the hard work of developers such as Jared Enterprises and what they having done in seeking tenants at the Lebanon Marketplace as well as other entities like the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce, local realtors and nonprofits, you definitely have a recipe for success.”

Buxton’s consumer and analytics-based retail matching process identified retailers that best match the lifestyles of Lebanon residents and complement existing retail in the community’s trade area, helping to focus recruitment efforts on the retailers most likely to thrive in the city. While retail economic development programs have traditionally relied on basic demographic information, Lebanon’s retail attraction program is utilizing consumer insights that go beyond demographics, presenting a convincing case to retailers seeking growth opportunities.

“I commend the work of the City, Lebanon-REDI and the community as a whole to make us more competitive in the battle for retail recruitment,” said Lebanon Mayor Josh Ray. “These are some success stories that we all played a part in and should be proud when we see these entities open and expand in the City of Lebanon.”

REDI Report – June 11, 2016

We have much to celebrate in Lebanon and Laclede County

As I sit at my desk to type this edition of the “REDI Report” I really want to start by asking everyone to truly count your blessings here in Lebanon and Laclede County. I know it can be easy sometimes to get on a bandwagon of “we don’t have this, or we don’t have that,” or to be angry at this issue or that situation right here at home. But as we have all seen over the last several days and really throughout this year, we have certainly been blessed not to deal with some of the issues that places around our nation have had to struggle with.

This doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen here or couldn’t happen here. But one of the benefits of being in a community and county like we live in are that we are more respectful of each other and care for our neighbors a little more than some places seem to do. When times get tough for one of our own, we typically step up to the plate and help friends or family in need. I just wish that sympathy and caring nature could transport itself to other places that are grieving right now.

With that said, from an economic development standpoint in this column I want to focus on two things that continue to showcase the good tidings that we are blessed to have going on in our hometown area.

First are the latest unemployment figures for Laclede County. The month of May showed continued success for us. Our unemployment rate was 4.7 percent, its lowest tally since May 2007. We had our largest May labor pool since the same month in 2008. Our situation as far as employment continues to stay strong with our existing labor pool. Jobs are still available and I continue to encourage anyone looking for employment to visit our Missouri Career Center at 2639 South Jefferson in Lebanon.

While today’s numbers look good, and hopefully will for the foreseeable future, we have to be concerned about tomorrow and develop ways to create a long-term workforce development effort. As I have mentioned many, many times in this column in the last 16 months, Lebanon Technology and Career Center (LTCC) is a leader in this initiative. One of LTCC’s most recent efforts is the creation of an apprenticeship program in partnership with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Labor (DOL). As part of the program, students wishing to become journeymen welders or machinists will have the opportunity to complete intense programs starting in their junior years of high school that will translate beyond high school. During their tenures, they will even begin to complete a pay check by working with partnering industries. Last week, a ceremony was held at Lebanon High School to recognize students, their families and businesses participating in the program. Three students were “signed” by the industries for the program. The trio is already working at either Cambarloc Engineering and Manufacturing, Inc., or Metaltech Products, Inc.

I have been honored to be a part of some interesting events throughout my career in community and economic development, and even before that in journalism. But seeing these students and their parents so proud was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever experienced professionally. Being involved in this program really means something to the students and their families. This is workforce development folks! These three, and others who will participate in the future, will transform our labor pool.

Earning a college degree is something I am extremely proud of. That was the proper path for me and it opened many doors in life that otherwise might have been closed. However, my path is not the only path. We have to provide opportunities for everyone and to let them know that whichever path they choose it is fine. As long as a person contributes to our society and has passion for what he or she does, the choice should be theirs. And the program at LTCC is a strong push in this direction. I commend LTCC Director Keith Davis, his staff and educators who are working hard to develop our workforce.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and please consider our fallen neighbors in other parts of the country who are dealing with some really unimaginable issues right now.

(Brian Thompson is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Lebanon-REDI. He may be reached at his office at 200 E. Commercial Street at 417-533-5627, by mobile phone at 417-288-9737 or by e-mail at brian@lebanonredi.com)

Lebanon-REDI president selected for district leadership in statewide trade organization

Brian Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Lebanon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (Lebanon-REDI), was recently selected by regional peers to serve as a district director for the Missouri Economic Development Council (MEDC).

MEDC is the authoritative voice on economic development and related issues in Missouri. A statewide, nonprofit association of economic development professionals and community leaders, MEDC has been the unified voice of Missouri economic developers since 1979. Each year, seven different MEDC districts elect district directors to leadership roles to help unite members within their respective boundaries. Thompson was one of two professionals picked to serve MEDC District 6, which covers 26 counties in southwest Missouri.

“It is an honor to be chosen to a district leadership position within MEDC District 6,” said Thompson. “This will continue a long-standing tradition of regional and statewide MEDC service by Lebanon and Laclede County economic development officials.”

MEDC drives economic growth through program initiatives and alliances with other economic development entities. This collaboration gives MEDC members access to industry-leading professional development, public policy, legislation and marketing communications programs. Whether working independently or in cooperation with partners, MEDC, its members and professional staff are effective, efficient and reliable.

“Lebanon-REDI has been blessed to continuously have a strong voice within the MEDC organization,” said Bill Lewis, chairman of the Lebanon-REDI board of directors. “We are extremely grateful that District 6 peers selected Brian for a regional tenure in continuation of REDI’s involvement with MEDC.”

For more information on MEDC, visit www.showme.org. Additional information on Lebanon-REDI can be found at www.LebanonREDI.com.

REDI Report – May 21, 2016

Local law enforcement plays role in economic development process

This past week was National Police Officer Week. It seems in most recent years that only negative stories of police officers make headlines in national media, but every day men and women who wear the law enforcement uniform proudly are putting their lives on the line to make sure we live safe and sound. Lebanon and Laclede County are not immune from crime at times, but I certainly feel a general sense of safety living in our community and county that people don’t necessarily have in other places. We should all be thankful and I hope that we all take a moment every now and then to thank our local police officers in all the communities of Laclede County for what they do for us on a daily basis.

One thing that they certainly tackle is the issue of drugs, not unlike any other community in America. While I never think it is appropriate to put a spotlight on the issues we face and simply hammer on the negative challenges, we must also be willing to understand that we do face obstacles and find ways to address such issues.

The Laclede County Drug Council (LCDC), a group of local volunteers with a vested interest in the subject matter, is actively engaged in doing its part to battle whatever challenges we face locally and I have been blessed to participate in this committee over the past several months. I want to take this moment to personally invite you to an event that LCDC will host on May 24.

A town hall meeting to address the issue of underage drinking will be held Tuesday, May 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lebanon-Laclede County Library, located at 915 South Jefferson Ave. in Lebanon.

The event is open to the public specifically parents/guardians, students and citizens concerned about the challenges related to underage drinking.

The May 24 town hall will be set up in a “question and answer” format where attendees will have the chance to address local panelists chosen from areas of the community that deal with underage drinking on a day-to-day basis.

After brief introductions and overviews of how the issue affects each panelist personally and professionally, those in attendance will be able to ask questions and also offer solutions.

To develop and organize the effort, the LCDC applied and received a grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), an organization that is sponsoring its sixth round of such town hall events across the nation. Since the start of the initiative, thousands of similar events have been held throughout the country to increase public awareness and support the efforts of community-based entities to prevent underage drinking. One of the key goals of the events is to help communities mobilize active plans in support of evidence-based prevention.

For more information on the May 24 town hall meeting, contact LCDC at 417-533-1325 or by e-mail at hash.brian@gmail.com.

I hope you are able to attend and help contribute to the discussion. If one individual is assisted, directly or indirectly, to set his or her life on a better path as a result of the forum, it will be a HUGE success. While on the surface, an issue such as underage drinking may not look like it is tied to economic and community development, it most certainly is. Someone who goes down a bad road by using drugs or excessively abusing alcohol, will likely struggle to be a good employee or member of society. By staying engaged with the subject matter, we can all do our part to help.

Have a great weekend everyone!

(Brian Thompson is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Lebanon-REDI. He may be reached at his office at 200 E. Commercial Street at 417-533-5627, by mobile phone at 417-288-9737 or by e-mail at brian@lebanonredi.com)

REDI Report – April 30, 2016

Positive trend continues for county unemployment numbers

The most recent unemployment rate information released on the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center website (www.missourieconomy.org) brought more good news for Lebanon and Laclede County. Our county’s unemployment rate in March 2016 was 5.8 percent, the lowest tally for the time frame since our March 2007 percentage of 5.2 percent. We were also 1.3 percent better than the same month one year ago when the rate was 7.1 percent.

Our labor force of 16,638 participants was our largest since the same month in 2009. The increase in the size of our workforce indicates that more people are actively seeking work and finding it when they search for jobs.

Speaking of jobs, our local Missouri Career Center continues to be a wonderful resource for anyone who is in need of an occupation. Currently, the center in Lebanon has more than 370 work orders. This means that nearly 400 jobs are open through the companies who choose to seek candidates in partnership with the Missouri Career Center. These numbers do not even take into consideration any employers not using the location for prospect recruitment.

If you know of someone looking for work, please direct him or her to the Missouri Career Center. Our local staff does excellent work and can be reached at 417-532-6416 or in person at 2639 South Jefferson Ave., Suite No. 1.

In noting the positive unemployment stats and the current job openings, I want to take a moment to brag on the community and county at-large. On the Lebanon-REDI Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/LebanonREDI) we recently posted a status about the available positions in Laclede County. Well, I am super thrilled that the status has been shared more than 160 times and has reached more than 16,000 people! You are all awesome. Imagine the impact if one or more person is able to find work simply by being connected to a job though the post. And everyone who shared the post took his or her own personal time to get the word out there. Now that is “unity” in “community” if I’ve ever seen it, but after 14 months in this area it doesn’t surprise me that our citizens answered the call to get the news to the masses.

Have a great weekend and enjoy some of the many activities that are on-going in Lebanon and Laclede County!

 (Brian Thompson is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Lebanon-REDI. He may be reached at his office at 200 E. Commercial Street at 417-533-5627, by mobile phone at 417-288-9737 or by e-mail at brian@lebanonredi.com)