New group hopes to influence economic policymakers

Sunday, August 22, 2010
T. Robin Cole

Cape Girardeau businessman T. Robin Cole III is president of a new organization formed to promote free market principles and fiscal responsibility in government.

Based in Jefferson City, Mo., the Coalition for Economic Prosperity and Jobs is a political advocacy organization.

"When chronic unemployment occurs like we're seeing now it's urgent that business leaders and government leaders get their heads together to create an investment environment for businesses to expand and employ the workforce that is available," said Cole, who is president of The Rite Group, a business solutions and equipment company in Jackson.

Cole also works with the Cape Girardeau Public School Foundation and Cape Area Habitat for Humanity.

He became involved in state-level economic policy issues after being appointed to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Small Business Compliance Advisory Committee in 2006.

The Coalition for Economic Prosperity hopes to engage people in a grassroots effort to influence economic policymakers, Cole said.

"Almost every dimension of our society responds to either employment growth or unemployment," Cole said. "We have to have more people pulling the wagon than riding in it."

The Coalition for Economic Prosperity and Jobs recently launched a website designed by Cole's company, www.cepj.org. It includes a blog, opinion polls and a national debt calculator.

With an IRS designation of 527, the organization may not endorse or contribute to political candidates and contributions to it are taxable.

The coalition will, however, call out politicians who are making decisions that violate the organization's free market ideals and identify those who stand up for the economic principals the group supports, Cole said.

In addition to Cole, coalition board members include treasurer Ian Thomas Hardin of Alton, Ill., secretary Dr. Dwain Roberts of Jefferson City, Greg Upchurch of St. Louis and Joe Passanise of Springfield, Mo. James Harris of Jefferson City has been appointed executive director.

Harris said coalition members will work to get their message out by talking to chambers of commerce and other business groups around the state as well as attend local parades and festivals.

"We'll be sitting down with business people and families to talk about our group," Harris said. "Our belief is that the policies pursued and enacted by congress are detrimental to families' ability to provide for themselves."

An advertising campaign also will be launched soon, he said.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

122 East High Street, Ste. 200, Jefferson City, MO

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