Harman elected director of economic region

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Conference attracts business leaders

Marv Harman, economic development director for Ste. Genevieve County, was recently elected district director for 2003-2004 for the 23-county area in Southeast Missouri that makes up the Missouri Economic Development Council's Region 7.

Following 20-plus years in newspaper management and publications, Harman served as city administrator/economic developer for St. Clair and later Sullivan in Franklin County before accepting the economic development position in Ste. Genevieve County in January 2000.

Harman was elected as economic development professionals from around the state gathered May 28-29 for MEDC's annual spring conference at Lodge of the Four Seasons, Lake of the Ozarks. Harman succeeds Glen "Skip" Smallwood, business development executive for Ameren UE in Cape Girardeau.

Elected MEDC president for a second term was Mitch Robinson, who heads up the industrial recruitment office in Cape Girardeau.

More than 300 of Missouri's professional economic developers, along with others interested in promotion of the state's expansion and attraction of business and industry, gathered for this conference.

The MEDC Awards Luncheon included a keynote presentation by Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem Rod Jetton. Conference sessions included "Putting the Web to Work," "Urban and Rural Roundtables" and "The Real Costs/Profits of Economic Development." There were presentations during the Governor's Conference by Alex Spanos, business giant and owner of the San Diego Chargers, Dr. Elson Floyd, president of the University of Missouri System, and William Daley, president of SBC Communications.

The Missouri Economic Development Council is a statewide, not-for-profit association of 400-plus economic development professionals and community leaders. Created in 1979 to provide a unified voice for economic development, MEDC offers its members programs in professional education, legislation and marketing.

Harman noted that a group meeting between Region 7 and Region 5 counties ( 29 counties that includes Jefferson and Franklin) is being discussed for the latter part of July in Ste. Genevieve.

"The entire state is experiencing county and city budget cutbacks, brought on primarily by sales tax shortfalls," said Harman, "and we must begin doing something innovative to make Missouri more attractive to investors, manufacturers and even retailers. We are collectively losing out to surrounding states and must do something quickly to turn the tide.

"Ste. Genevieve County showed a net gain of around 175 jobs in 2002, while the state of Missouri was losing 77,800 jobs," said Harman. "We can't continue at this pace without being swallowed up in the Midwest job shortfall. We have to consider new alternatives."

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