(417) 533-5627

REDI Report – January 30, 2016

Local economic indicators show movement in the right direction

How about this brief turn in our January weather? And no, that is no complaint. I will take it. I hope everyone has a chance to get out and enjoy what this weekend brings. I’m not too confident that it will last beyond a few days, but I will take whatever we can get.

I am thrilled to report that some final unemployment numbers came in for Lebanon and Laclede County during the past week. The December 2015 unemployment rate for the county showed us at 6 percent. This was the best December we have had on this front since all the way back in 2006. We had our largest labor force for the final year of the month since 2008 as well.

With these final figures we are also able to calculate how we stood for a full year. Our average annual unemployment rate for 2015 was 6.7 percent. That is 1.4 percent better than we were in 2014 and our best annual average since 2007. We had our largest annual average labor force since 2009. The bottom line to this information is that things definitely moved in the right direction during the past 12 months and I am confident that the trend will continue into 2016 and beyond.

We should all be grateful to our local employers for investing in themselves and in our workforce. And likewise it is the workforce that helped make these investments possible.

The City of Lebanon and Laclede County are now participating in a regional housing study in conjunction with Camden, Miller and Morgan Counties. Along with those three counties, we together make up the footprint of Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments. Lebanon and Laclede County are well represented on this organization with three seats currently occupied by Presiding Commissioner Danny Rhoades, Lebanon Area Chamber Executive Director Darrell Pollock and Lebanon City Council Ward 4 Representative Chuck Jordan. The Lake of the Ozarks (COG) is a strong partner in helping our community and county with grant applications, administration and other community and economic development programs.

The forthcoming housing study will really help us as a community and county discover what our challenges are when it comes to available and affordable housing. We’ll also determine what opportunities exist as well as where they are in our area and region. And, most importantly, the study will help us develop programs to address the challenges and maximize our opportunities. Anytime you can truly assess where you are, where you want to go and learn ways to get there by examining the successes or even failures of other communities, I think this is nothing but a good thing.

Have a great weekend all and enjoy this spring . . . or I mean winter weather!

(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)