Lebanon REDI

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REDI Report – November 14, 2015

Expansion of DTMP a good example of  home-grown jobs

This has certainly been a week to celebrate, in my opinion, in Lebanon and Laclede County as a forthcoming expansion at Detroit Tool Metal Products (DTMP) was officially announced. With this expansion, the company will create 30 new jobs in Lebanon and Laclede County, while also investing more than $4 million in new equipment and buildings. If you happen to see someone from DTMP while you are out and about, I encourage you to both congratulate them on this week’s news and thank them for their continued investment here.

I have mentioned this before, but I think it certainly bears repeating that we must make an effort to help our existing companies grow and prosper. While the attraction of a brand new industry or business may generate the most sensational news headlines, it is actually our current companies who will create 70 to 80 percent of the new jobs in our economy. Lebanon and Laclede County have been on a good streak as far our economy is concerned over the past few months and our existing employers are one of the true key factors behind this recent success. On behalf of Lebanon-REDI, I want to thank DTMP for keeping your local location at the top of your investment options. As a company that has locations elsewhere in our nation, DTMP certainly had the right and opportunity to locate this forthcoming expansion in another part of the United States, or the world for that matter. But due to several factors, including the work ethic of the existing labor force at DTMP’s Lebanon facilities as well as local, regional and state partnerships, Lebanon became the location of choice for the company’s latest expansion project. We will all reap benefits from this announcement.

Speaking of choices, the holiday season is right around the corner and we will all have the chance to decide where we shop for those gifts for the important people in our lives. I urge everyone to strongly consider shopping locally during the holidays, and really all year long. You are helping a friend and neighbor when you take your business to a local outlet. These are the same people who then take your contributions to their businesses and use them to circulate money locally by also making purchases here, supporting civic and nonprofit entities in the community, sponsoring school related and other similar functions, and paying their share of expenses that help fund improvements in our community and county.

I want to commend the Local Makes Sense committee, which is part of the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce, for working hard to find new ways to extend this message of “shop locally” to the masses. I’m excited about the activities that the Local Makes Sense organization is working on to get the “shop local” message out there. We must stop and think about the effects of spending money outside our Lebanon and Laclede County borders. When we do, we help fund someone else’s street improvements, other cities’ upgrades and in general, others’ quality of life. It also makes it more difficult for our local businesses to simply stay in business and we certainly don’t want to see us lose any businesses here. While I know we can’t always get “everything” here, I think we can all do our best to make an effort to buy those things we can.

Thank you all for reading and have a wonderful 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)

REDI Report – October 31, 2015

Things are looking good on the local employment front

I want to start off by saying, “Happy Halloween” to all of the ghosts and goblins in Lebanon and Laclede County. I hope those of you who have children to take out for “trick-or-treating” have a great time this weekend. Most importantly, I hope you stay safe and enjoy the time with loved ones.

Our community and county received continued great news this past week as it relates to the job scene locally. For the month of September 2015, our unemployment rate was 6.1 percent. This is down from the 6.6 percent unemployment rate we had in August of this year. Our September 2015 tally is also one full percentage point better than the same month one year ago and the best overall September we have had for the county since 2007. We also had our largest labor force for a September since 2009.

Again, this is another great sign that our community and county continue to move in the right direction. We have new businesses on the horizon and a simple drive around town will showcase many of the ones that are opening in Lebanon (including openings this very weekend!). Some businesses have expanded either on-site or by moving to a new location in the community. Again, it is certainly a great time to be here to see this all unfold before us.
Also, many employers are hiring. Jobs are available here and are starting to be filled.

If you are a job seeker or know someone who is, I encourage you to visit the website: jobs.mo.gov. Here you will find links to help you search for jobs, tips on how to make the most of searches and more. Currently the Missouri Career Center has 95 job openings posted from the “65536” zip code. These openings include probation officers, delivery drivers, CAD technicians, health care positions and route sales representatives, just to name a few.

If you need further, direct assistance, please contact our local staff at the Missouri Career Center at 417-532-6146.
I want to commend the City of Lebanon, Mayor Lyle Anderson, Ken Howe and Holman-Howe Funeral Homes for putting together an evening earlier this week to recognize local law enforcement officials. Everyone affiliated with the event, which was held at the Cowan Civic Center, went above and beyond to make sure the message of appreciation was given to our area officers and deputies. Having good local law enforcement in place is a big part of the economic development push. Not even good ole’ Mayberry was a crimeless community (and those who attended the appreciation event will get the pun of that reference), but it is good to know that we have good, caring people who put their lives on the line daily for our safety. And when companies look at places to grow or expand, local crime rate is one of the factors considered. So in closing this edition of the “REDI Report,” I want to extend another “thank you” to our local law enforcement officials AND their families for all they do to keep us safe, which certainly helps our economic situation.

Have a great Halloween 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 – October 17, 2015

Economy can’t win if we don’t SCORE

As mentioned many times throughout this column’s existence, it takes everyone playing a part in the economic development process to give us a fighting chance to be successful here in Lebanon and Laclede County. Another great partner in our process, that I want to focus on in this edition of the “REDI Report,” is Lake of the Ozarks SCORE.

SCORE is a volunteer organization of leaders who serve as mentors to anyone wishing to start a business or those who currently have a small business. SCORE chapters exist all over the United States and we are blessed locally and regionally to have a chapter with a presence here. There are actually three mentors from Lebanon and Laclede County who volunteer their time to help local business owners, current or future.

SCORE provides a number of benefits. First of all, the organization provides free assistance. Talk about a great “bang for your buck!”

This is a great opportunity for startup business hopefuls to receive guidance before diving head-first into starting the actual venture. Sometimes a person may realize that starting a business isn’t such a good idea for him or her or their families. And there is nothing wrong with coming to that conclusion.

Other times, a potential business owner may learn ways to make better, more efficient decisions on a front end as opposed to losing valuable time and money on things that may not have been planned out properly.

In addition to the great advice received from local mentors, those utilizing SCORE services can also obtain knowledge from a nationwide network. If a matter arises and a local mentor with Lake of the Ozarks SCORE is not expertly knowledge in that area, the mentor will reach out to the SCORE nationwide network to find someone who is. And again, those services are no cost to the end user!

While working with startups is a big part of SCORE, as previously addressed, mentors will work with existing businesses as well. Small companies can take advantage of “business scans” that give you a “check up” of sorts on your business and really give smaller organizations some oversight that larger entities receive from their boards of directors. I think this is an immensely valuable resource to have as it gives businesses some outside perspective on how things going and maybe even access to new ideas and/or networks to help grow their presence here in our community and county.

For more information on SCORE, visit the website www.score.org and type in your zip code to connect to a local mentor from the Lake of the Ozarks region.

(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 – October 3, 2015

Positive week showcases the good things in the community

If I could utilize one 7-day period as the “week” to bring a visiting person or business to Lebanon and say “this is our community,” I might very well use the past week as that showcase period.
So many good and positive things have happened during the past few days that it really makes me appreciate all that Lebanon and Laclede County have to offer. Let’s take a short trip back in time and review some of the highlights.
This past Monday featured a productive Lebanon City Council meeting. One of the absolute highlights of the meeting, in my opinion, was the attendance of several young men from an area Boy Scout Troop. They were there to learn a little more about city government and its respective processes. It was great to see these young men getting a first-hand view of our city leaders in action.
Tuesday night was the annual Community Cares banquet hosted by the Lebanon Area Foundation (LAF). It was a very moving event as attendees learned a little more about LAF, what it does for the Lebanon area and how we can contribute to the cause. Donations to LAF are distributed among multiple nonprofit agencies from our local area. So when you contribute to the Community Cares effort, you truly are helping friends and neighbors. Joe Knapp was the keynote speaker at the event and he gave a truly moving presentation about how “giving” has helped him in his own life. I echo those sentiments. We are all the product of others who have given to us in many ways, not just financially.
Excitement was certainly in the air Wednesday as the Lebanon Yellowjacket Homecoming parade made its way through downtown Lebanon. How awesome it was to see our community support our kids. Plus I even heard one business owner tout the fact of the increased traffic to his store front. That’s truly economic development folks.

Thursday night gave us the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner. What a great gathering this was that brought many members of our business community together to celebrate a successful year in Lebanon and Laclede County. It was a thrill to see multiple businesses honored for their contributions to our community and county. Sometimes we get so caught up in day-to-day activities that we forget to say the simple words, “thank you.” The Chamber dinner allowed us to do so as a community and I was honored to be in attendance.

I almost forgot in this column to mention the Lebanon School District and its efforts to better itself. Many community members attended a Monday planning session to help the district develop a game plan for the next few years. It is great to see our school leaders not becoming satisfied with the status quo even when things are going in the right direction. They are dedicated to seeing us become “better.”

I think this past week and those activities that I have mentioned, which were only a few that happened during the last seven days in our area, would sell just about anybody on how wonderful Lebanon and Laclede County are.

Finally, we had some good news over the last several days with our unemployment rate for the month of August. Our unemployment rate was 6.5 percent, down 3/10 of a percent from July and also 1.7 percent better than August 2014. This was also our best August rate since 2007. Good things are happening here!

Have a wonderful 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 – September 19, 2015

Conference all about working together

As I mentioned two weeks ago in the “Lebanon-REDI Report,” this week I will briefly recap the 2015 Governor’s Conference on Economic Development. This annual event was held this year in St. Louis and brought dozens of economic development professionals from around the state together to increase our knowledge about our state and chosen profession.

I was really impressed with this event as it was my first governor’s conference since coming home to the state of Missouri six months ago. We discussed a lot of various items but two things truly stood out as far as I am concerned – working together and creating opportunities for everyone.

The word “collaboration” was used over and over. Company representatives were on hand to discuss how they worked to bring jobs to the respective communities that they call home. Each person talked about how the local community worked with the company, state and other partners to make projects a reality. And that made the key difference in those companies choosing to relocate or expand their businesses in the state of Missouri as opposed to somewhere else. It made me really proud to think of all the local collaboration that is going on right here in Lebanon and Laclede County in an effort to yield similar results. And we are certainly seeing the fruits of that labor coming to life.

And when discussing opportunities for everyone, this is an area that I have a strong passion for. We certainly want to keep our “best and brightest” but sometimes I think we accidentally give others a bad label and make them feel like they are not in that category. Everyone can contribute something to our community and society. That is why we must continue the effort of giving our workforce each and every opportunity we can through various programs that are designed to help them be more productive – professionally and personally.

One of the best things about going to a conference like this is the chance to get “fired up” about the work we do in communities. And that certainly happened for me. I was very proud to be there on behalf of Lebanon and Laclede County economic development efforts.

Speaking of working together, I want to thank the Lebanon City Council for its continued support. The council voted Monday night to renew its annual agreement with Lebanon-REDI and we look forward to another great 12 months in our long-term partnership.

In closing, I want to urge everyone to attend this weekend’s Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce and Local Makes Sense “Business Expo, Fun Day and Job Fair.” The event will be held Saturday, Sept. 19 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Lebanon-REDI will have a booth at this event and I hope everyone stops by to say hello. I also want to commend the Chamber and Local Makes Sense organizations for all the hard work they have put into this event. A lot of the effort goes unseen “behind closed doors” as they say. Well, I personally have been impressed by the work of the two boards and the Chamber staff. Be sure to thank them this weekend for all they do for our community and county when you see them.

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 – September 5, 2015

Unemployment numbers for local area remain pretty low

I want to begin this week by wishing everyone a very happy and safe Labor Day weekend. I hope you are all able to spend some time with friends and family during this final summer holiday of 2015. For those having to work during the holiday, I hope there is at least some time off for you to enjoy a little rest and relaxation this 3-day weekend.

We have received some additional positive news when it comes to employment for Lebanon and Laclede County with last week’s release of our unemployment rate of 6.7 percent for July 2015. While we were up 3/10 of a percent from June, as is typical this time of year due to seasonal downturns, this was the best overall July unemployment rate for Laclede County since 2007. We were also 1.6 percent lower than this time one year ago and that’s even with a larger labor force of nearly 700 more people working in Laclede County as opposed to this time frame in 2014. Our unemployment rate for the first seven months of the year was 7 percent versus the rate of 8.8 percent for the first seven months of last year.

I will continue to say that these solid numbers and general better outlook is a result of the hard work of everyone contributing at some level throughout the process. For that I say “thank you all.”

I’ve been blessed during my first six months on the job to get to tour many of our businesses and industries. We have so many unique stories in Lebanon and Laclede County of business owners and their paths to success. Some started their careers as an employee elsewhere and later broke off to form a business of their own. Some knew from day one that they wanted to go into business for themselves. The entrepreneur spirit is certainly alive and well in Lebanon and Laclede County.

One major focus area going forward for Lebanon-REDI is to find additional ways to support these entrepreneurs. As I have mentioned in the past, firms employing two to 100 people are the ones adding the most jobs to the economy so this is a very important sector to focus on. I’m also excited about some of the things on-going at our local educational institutions now and into the future that are definitely going to provide a support structure to entrepreneurs.

Bottom line is that it is a great time to be in Lebanon and Laclede County and I for one am excited about the future. I hope you are too!

Also, I am very proud this week to represent Lebanon and Laclede County at the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Economic Development which is being held in St. Louis. My primary goal is to bring back new knowledge that will benefit us all. In my next column, I will review some of the topics that were addressed at the conference.

Again, have a great holiday 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)

Laclede Electric Supports Lebanon-REDI

Laclede-Electric-Donation

Lebanon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (Lebanon-REDI) recognized Laclede Electric Cooperative during a check presentation ceremony Monday. The cooperative contributed $5,000 to Lebanon-REDI earlier this year. Pictured are, from left, REDI Board Chairman Bill Lewis, Laclede Electric Manager of Engineering Terry Rosenthal, Laclede Electric Manager of Accounting Joe Knapp, REDI President/Chief Executive Officer Brian Thompson, Laclede Electric Manager of Operations Michael Kirkland, Laclede Electric General Manager Marc Roecker and Laclede Electric Assistant Manager Doug Kroese. “We are proud to once again support the work of Lebanon-REDI,” said Roecker. “REDI has been a strong leader in the economic development effort of our community and county, partnering with many others locally, regionally and statewide to grow our area.”

REDI Report – August 22, 2015

RoadSnacks doesn’t even know our town

I’d like to think that it takes a lot to truly make me “mad” and get my blood pressure “boiling.” Well, last week something certainly hit a nerve and truly angered me. I know others have had the chance to chime in on the online RoadSnacks Worst Places to Live in Missouri report that listed Lebanon as the second worst city to live in our state, but now it’s my turn.

During last Friday’s Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce Business Builder Luncheon, which if you have not attended one of these before I urge you to add it to your calendar of activities, Chamber Director Darrell Pollock gave some heartfelt opinions he had on the ranking. And I am in agreement with him – the company should stick to ranking “road snacks.”

The worst thing about a report like this is that some people will truly believe it. Imagine if we were in the midst of working with a company to relocate here to bring dozens of jobs and new investment to town? What if the company’s top executives took stock in a poll like that? For the most part, I tend to believe that would not be the case and they would use better judgment, but you never really know.

The poll cited high unemployment. Well, for starters, we are seeing a positive trend in our unemployment rate. Our workforce is growing and we as a whole (our community and its respective employers) are putting these people to work. Our most recent few months of unemployment showed the best results in more than seven years. And to employers, higher unemployment can also tell the story that there is an available labor force, so you can’t necessarily consider the unemployment rate as “all bad” anyway even if it is higher than you would like.

It really bothered me that the poll took a shot at our schools. I will put our educational institutions up against any other school district in Missouri or any other state for that matter. We have passionate educators who are making a difference in the lives of the students they serve on a daily basis. How ironic that just a couple of days ago, U. S. News and World Report ranked Lebanon High School as one of the best high schools in the state of Missouri. Now THAT report I would have to agree with!

Of course, getting back to my more positive vibe, the good thing that came out of the negative RoadSnacks ranking, in my opinion, was that we, as a community, seemed to take offense to it. Sometimes it is easy to get down and think in terms of what we don’t have. But just like a little brother or little sister, “I might be able to say something bad about them, but YOU better not.” We took the same approach with our community and we were angry that a ranking could place us as one of the top worst places in our community.

So I hope we can take a moment this weekend to focus on the things that make Lebanon a truly great place to live. Our great schools are back in session. We have some fun fall sports coming up. There’s something going on to enjoy from an entertainment standpoint at Cowan Civic Center on a weekly basis. We have great churches to attend. People help people here as evidenced by civic clubs and organizations throughout our city. Hey! You know what? That sounds like a place I’d like to live and one of the BEST places to live in the state of Missouri, certainly not one of the worst.

(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)

Heritage Bank of the Ozarks supports Lebanon-REDI

Heritage-Bank-Donation

Lebanon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (Lebanon-REDI) recognized Heritage Bank of the Ozarks during a check presentation ceremony recently. The bank contributed $4,000 to Lebanon-REDI earlier this year. Pictured are, from left, Heritage Bank Board Member Steve Ehrhardt, Bank President and Senior Credit Officer Kim Light, Bank Board Member Brent Lowe, Bank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Lewis, REDI Board Vice Chairman Marc Roecker, Bank Board Member Ron Burnett, REDI President/CEO Brian Thompson and Bank Board Member Don Clark. “REDI is a very important partner in the economic development effort for Lebanon and Laclede County,” said Lewis. “Heritage Bank of the Ozarks is proud to continue its long-standing support of REDI as the organization works hard to help our local economy grow and prosper.”

REDI Report – August 8, 2015

“Busy-ness” is booming in local area

I hope everyone has enjoyed what has been a busy week in our community and county. If you say “there’s nothing to do here,” you really haven’t looked too hard. All week, thousands from multiple states have enjoyed great entertainment as part of the 47th Annual Brumley Gospel Sing at our very own Cowan Civic Center. We have a big Our Town, Your Town event Saturday at the I-44 Speedway and a lot of local things going on in area churches, etc. This is a busy, busy place to be – and that’s a good thing.

With that said, I want to look at some other assets in our community that we may take for granted from time to time. And they both strongly contribute to our local economic development efforts.

First is our Route 66 Museum. I was blessed to get a recent tour of the museum and was blown away by what it had to offer. While I have often personally said I won’t grow older very gracefully, I have enjoyed the appreciation that age brings for things that I might not have held with such affection at a younger age. History is one such thing that I am much fonder of now than I was 10 or 15 years ago. The Route 66 Museum brings in thousands of visitors to our community each year and after my tour I can certainly see why.

I was very impressed with the organization and exhibits of the museum. Without going into much detail to steal from other’s potential enjoyment, I will just say please go to this facility if you haven’t done so lately or ever! I think you will be pleased with what you find.

The great news when it comes to a tourist attraction like a museum is the additional economic benefit we get from visitors coming to town. They shop in our stores, fuel up their vehicles at local gas stations, eat at our restaurants and I could go on-and-on about the benefits this brings. The dollars generated here allow our local businesses to do better, hire more people, contribute to more charitable causes and again the list goes on-and-on.

Another asset is the men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis in our local law enforcement. It was great to see two new Lebanon Police officers take their “oath of office” at the last city council meeting. You really don’t appreciate what they do for our community until you need them at a critical time. Every community has its challenges when it comes to crime. And when employers take a look at an area, they will see where a community stands when it comes to issues such as crime rates. We can certainly showcase that Lebanon is a better option than many larger metropolitan areas that deal with violent crime on an almost daily basis. We should be very appreciative of our local law enforcement agencies at all levels – city and county.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and be sure to enjoy one of the many fun things that Lebanon and Laclede County have to offer.

(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)