Driskill to resign economic post

Thursday, December 11, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- After more than a decade at the helm, Joe Driskill will step down as director of the state Department of Economic Development at the end of the year.

A Southeast Missouri native, Driskill leaves as ranking member of the governor's cabinet in terms of years served. His tenure is believed to be among the longest of any department head in state history.

Driskill, 48, will become executive director of the Missouri Technology Corp., a nonprofit entity established by state law to promote commercial applications for technological research.

Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan appointed Driskill as DED director in April 1993, and Driskill has remained in the post under Gov. Bob Holden, who took office in January 2001.

Driskill said he decided over the summer that it was time for a career change and notified Holden to give him ample time to find a replacement.

"I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve as part of Governor Holden's administration, but I think I can accomplish more for our state in another role," Driskill said.

The governor praised Driskill's efforts during his long tenure at the department.

"Joe's recognition that Missouri's most valuable economic development tool is our highly productive work force has been a guiding light for the department and this state," Holden said.

Holden has scheduled a news conference for 11 a.m. today to discuss the vacancy, but a spokesman declined to say if the governor intended to name a successor at that time.

Jim Kistler, the executive vice president of Associated Industries of Missouri, said Driskill's replacement must focus on bringing new businesses to the state. AIM is one of the state's top business lobbying groups and has often been at odds with the Holden administration.

"The way to start the economy growing is to put people to work," Kistler said. "The person in the director's position needs to be able to create jobs."

Driskill was first elected to the House of Representatives from Doniphan in 1982.

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