By Daniel P. Mehan, President and CEO, Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry
How about some good news? The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is now five years into our statewide Missouri2030 strategic vision and the latest competitiveness numbers show Missouri is making strong progress.
It all started in 2015 when we did a deep dive into how Missouri stacks up compared to other states. The numbers weren’t good.
In the decade leading to 2015, our state ranked 43rd in GDP, 39th in per capita income and 42nd in job creation.
These statistics provided a much-needed wake up call. While Missourians had perhaps gotten comfortable being a middle-of-the-road state, the data showed we’d slipped out of the middle — we were now lagging badly.
This realization led the Missouri Chamber to create a positive vision for our future with Missouri2030. Our initiative was backed by research and direct input from our state’s leading job creators. We built bold policy and programmatic goals around preparing our workforce, connecting through infrastructure, competing for jobs and uniting the business community.
Daniel P. Mehan, President and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
We then used our vision to rally support from across Missouri and brought our vision directly to policymakers who joined us in helping bring Missouri2030 into reality.
It’s a nice anecdote, but the actual proof is in the numbers — the same numbers that had sounded our wake-up call just a few years prior.
So, how are we doing?
As I said before, in the ten years before Missouri2030, our state ranked 43rd in GDP. Not good. But in the five years since, we’ve moved up to 36th. Our income ranking rose from 39th to 34th. In job creation, we’ve moved from 42nd to 22nd.
While these are all strong improvements, that last number is the big one. Jobs are the leading indicator. As Missouri keeps moving up the ladder in job creation, our income and GDP numbers will naturally climb as well.
We’ve come a very long way in five years. While we’re far from done, this data validates our approach with Missouri2030. It also illustrates how Missouri is in a much better position to capitalize and grow in the post-pandemic economy.
These numbers — in addition to our strong pro-jobs progress in Jefferson City this year — should give Missourians a strong sense of optimism for our state’s future.
We should feel good about where we are today, with every reason to believe Missouri will continue to rise in the rankings as we benefit from the new laws passed this year. This includes laws that will repair and modernize our transportation system, stop frivolous COVID-19 lawsuits, provide sales tax fairness, better train Missourians for in-demand jobs and help ensure we have reliable, affordable utilities.
Missouri is getting closer to running on all cylinders, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d like to thank Gov. Mike Parson and all the policymakers who have helped take us this far. And I’d especially thank the business leaders who supported Missouri2030 and helped us push this initiative forward.
But we aren’t there yet.
I still believe Missouri can be a top 10 state in GDP, income and job creation. That remains our ambitious target for the year 2030 — and we have a long way to go.
With our track record of success, we will be working to grow our Missouri2030 coalition and push even harder for progress.
What seemed like an impossible goal just five years ago is now getting closer. Let’s keep moving forward.