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REDI Report – February 27, 2016

Positive local projects will grow as weather warms

Spring is literally right around the corner and in recent days we’ve had a glimpse or two from Mother Nature as to what spring 2016 can hold from a weather perspective. And certainly as the temperatures rise and the weather cooperates, we will start to see many projects throughout our community and county progress. That is certainly exciting to think about.

Tourism is one of the key economic drivers of Lebanon and Laclede County, as well as for the state of Missouri. I’ve been fortunate in recent weeks to hear presentations about the impact of tourism from local and state levels.

Dan Lennon, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism, was a guest presenter at the recent Missouri Economic Development Council Winter Conference held in Jefferson City. During his presentation to attendees, Dan gave an update on the impact tourism had for the state of Missouri during fiscal year 2015. Tourism had an economic impact of $15.9 billion on the state during 2015. That is no typo folks – billions of dollars in impact for our wonderful Show Me State. More than 40 million people visited the state last year and almost 300,000 direct jobs were supported as a result of tourism. That is huge for the state’s economy and here in Lebanon and Laclede County we certainly feel a significant impact as well with our many tourism assets.

One local asset in particular that I am getting more and more excited about is the Route 66 theme park that is under construction at Boswell Park. Once completed, I truly believe the park will bring new visitors to Lebanon and Laclede County. And one of the best things they will bring with them is their disposable incomes to spend in our restaurants, motels, retail centers, convenience stores, etc.

Murals will adorn the park and become a place where tourists can take pictures. And as Paul Whitehill of Whitehill Enterprises, a firm assisting with the mural project, mentioned during recent civic club presentations, these photos will be shared across social media forums worldwide exposing new potential visitors to what Lebanon and Laclede County have to offer. What a win-win situation all the way around!

Of course, all projects of this magnitude require funding and the Route 66 murals are no different. I commend Laclede County for making a significant contribution to the overall project and encourage individuals and businesses throughout our community and county to consider doing the same – whether financially or in promotional ways or other means. The Lebanon Area Foundation is the administrator for any funding donated, so more information can be found by visiting www.lebanonareafoundation.org or by calling 417-532-8868.

The Route 66 mural project is just one of the great initiatives underway in our great community and county. One other initiative that I would like to share in closing this edition of the REDI Report is a housing study that the City of Lebanon is participating in. This study will give us an overview of the housing needs, challenges and opportunities for Lebanon and Laclede County.

As with any study, this will require feedback from the community at-large. A survey has been developed by the project’s lead consultant and can be accessed at  www.surveymonkey.com/r/LacledeHsg. Please help us by providing feedback as we all can contribute to the process.

Enjoy the final weekend of February 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)