A bright future in economic development for Southeast Missouri

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Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Introducing some new faces in economic development in Southeast Missouri

Southeast Missouri is at a critical moment in the future of economic development. After a reorganization effort, Southeast Missouri Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SE MO REDI) is entering the final stages of a strategic planning effort. With the continued expansion of private and public partners, the organization is well-positioned to play a key role in helping add jobs and private investment throughout the region.

“The future of the economic well-being of the Cape Girardeau area is dependent on stabilizing our regional population, especially young and working age groups,” said Dr. James Stapleton, Chairman of the Board of Directors for SE MO REDI. “To do this, we need to align the comprehensive strategic efforts of communities across the region, and we need high-quality economic development professionals to lead a new era of commitment to work together.”

In the last few years, many individuals have taken on new roles in economic development throughout the region. This group of new leaders is dedicated to working together, alongside other partners, to meet the challenges ahead and drive economic progress. In fact, when each of these individuals was independently asked about the future of economic development, one word appeared more than others: collaboration.

This group of individuals has the desire to collaborate, and the hard work of collaboration has already started. As SE MO REDI works with partners throughout the region to finalize the strategic plan in coming months, there will be an ongoing effort to add more individuals and capacity to our economic development team in Southeast Missouri. The future is bright.

Here, we introduce the new team of dedicated economic development professionals.

Meet The Economic Developers

Shad Burner

Position: Management Consultant

Organization: Southeast Missouri Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SE MO REDI)


Shad Burner, a principal with the KBS Group, was recently contracted to serve as the management consultant with SE MO REDI. As a long-time Cape resident, Burner previously served in roles with Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Missouri State University and carGO. Most recently, he was the Director of Federal Initiatives for the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED), where he served on the department leadership team overseeing more than $500 million for community and economic development projects. Burner has also managed dozens of expansion projects representing thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment and millions in grant dollars for community infrastructure.

Burner was appointed by Gov. Parson to serve as Missouri’s state designee to the Delta Regional Authority and served as the director’s designee on the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) Board of Directors. He currently sits on the board of the Missouri Economic Development Council. Burner is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), a graduate of the Delta Leadership Institute and a graduate of Missouri Leadership Academy. Burner holds a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Southeast Missouri State University.

Overview of Role

“I’m currently focused on finalizing and implementing our regional economic development strategic plan that will help drive new jobs and capital investment. I work closely with economic development partners throughout the region to ensure we are aligned, supporting one another and working together to move Southeast Missouri forward. Some of our key focus areas include supporting the growth of existing businesses, making it easier to start and grow new businesses, ensuring employers have access to a qualified workforce and proactively telling our story.”

Future of Economic Development

“To be successful in economic development in Southeast Missouri, we must understand that the industry has changed significantly in recent years. Companies have access to more information for making decisions about where they should invest and grow. We should be utilizing that same data to drive decisions about where we invest our time, energy and money in the region. This starts with ensuring we have the right people around the table. I’ve seen what regions across Missouri can do when they work well together, and SE MO REDI is well-positioned to play a key role helping the region collaborate better in the future.”

Crystal Jones

Position: Executive Director

Organization: Perry County Economic Development Authority (Perry County EDA)


Crystal Jones is the Executive Director of the Perry County EDA and is tasked with leading economic development efforts for Perry County and the City of Perryville. She has held economic development positions throughout Southeast Missouri, including regional roles with the Ozark Foothills Regional Planning Commission and Southeast Missouri State University. Crystal received her MBA from William Woods University, and she is a graduate of the Delta Leadership Institute. She also completed her Professional Community & Economic Developer (PCED) certification and recently became a Missouri Certified Economic Developer (MoCED). She sits on the board of the Missouri Economic Development Council.

Overview of Role

“I have been the local economic developer since May 2022. Since then, we have spent considerable time creating the foundation needed for a successful program going forward. A long-term strategic plan was completed, relationships with local and regional stakeholders were cultivated and a new website was launched. New initiatives have been created to generate economic development activity throughout the county, including a City of Perryville Housing Reimbursement Program, a business retention and expansion (BRE) program, workforce programming and a variety of infrastructure-related projects. The Perry County EDA also operates the Catalyst Center for Business in Perryville, a co-working and business support space.”

Future of Economic Development

“With limited resources in rural Missouri, we must prioritize collaboration to be successful. Perry County stakeholders have a long history of working together to support our local business and industry, which has led to successes such as the construction of the Ranken Southeast campus, the revitalization of Downtown Perryville, a solid manufacturing base that continues to make investments in our community and the construction of a county/city joint justice center, among others. We are stronger when we work together. Collaboration has made us successful in the past and will continue to do so in the future.”

Marcie Lawson

Position: President and CEO

Organization: Sikeston Regional Chamber and Area Economic Development Corporation (SAEDC)


Marcie Lawson has worked with SAEDC for several years and was named president and CEO in July 2022. She has 17 years of experience in community, resource and workforce development. Her experience includes launching the Sikeston S.O.A.R. program, Leadership Sikeston Program and recruitment of area businesses such as the new Carlisle Construction Materials Plant. Prior to joining the Sikeston Regional Chamber, she served as executive director of the Missouri Delta Medical Center Foundation.

Lawson recently completed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institution for Organization Management. She is a graduate of the Delta Leadership Institute’s Executive Academy. She holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Louisiana — Monroe and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama.

Overview Of Role

“Industrial recruitment will always be a part of my job, but having recently completed a strategic plan, our community sees five additional focus areas as it relates to economic development: Workforce Development, Marketing & Attraction, Business Retention & Expansion, Neighborhood Development and Small Business & Entrepreneurial Development. The amount of time I dedicate to each may fluctuate throughout the year, but we must be working intentionally in all areas to continue to succeed in our mission to promote, enhance and support economic growth, prosperity and quality of life in the Sikeston area.”

Future of Economic Development

“I am even more excited to work on economic development now that we are working as a region. I feel strongly that we can capitalize on each community’s strengths, which will lead to more economic wins for Southeast Missouri. More jobs in one community may mean more houses in another and more retail in another, so at the end of the day, we recognize a win in our area is a reason for us all to celebrate.”

Jeremy Tanz

Position: Executive Director

Organization: SEMO Regional Planning & Economic Development Commission (SEMO RPC)


Jeremy Tanz joined the staff of SEMO RPC in 1997 as a CAD Technician with the mapping department, while completing his Bachelor of Science degree from Southeast Missouri State University. During his time with the Commission, he assisted with the department’s transition to Geographic Information Systems and became the GIS Specialist and IT Director for the RPC. In this role he assisted with the development of various planning and economic development projects as well as grant support work. Tanz was appointed as Executive Director in 2019 and has since worked in a variety of areas such as development needs, financing, infrastructure, permitting, workforce, marketing, economic and community development. He acts as liaison for many state, federal and local entities.

Overview of Role

“As Executive Director of the SEMO RPC, I oversee the daily operations, staff and projects performed by the Commission while maintaining relationships with and reporting to its Board of Directors. SEMO RPC serves the seven-county area of Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Iron, Madison, Perry, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve, with its board primarily comprised of the highest elected officials in each county served. The RPC is a partner of federal and state agencies, serving as local economic development district for the Economic Development Agency (EDA) and as local development district for the Delta Regional Authority (DRA). Through these various state partnerships, we work with local governments, businesses and organizations to create economic development projects and coordinate potential funding to support them. We work to provide economic development and planning services to all communities in our region, particularly the smaller rural communities that lack the capacity to complete this work on their own.”

Future of Economic Development

“The Southeast Missouri region has many opportunities to grow economic development in the future. While there are threats to this growth, we have the means to identify, address and mitigate those threats, bring new businesses and industries and increase the talent and population of the area. This cannot be accomplished by single entities or communities working on their own, but by cooperation and collaboration in a regional effort to bring combined strengths together to build a more resilient, equitable environment that supports and sustains that growth.”

Dustin Whitworth

Position: City Administrator

Organization: Scott City


Dustin Whitworth started his career with the City of Scott City in 1990 on the back of a garbage truck. After 10 years of serving in various roles with Scott City and five years with Alliance Water in Cape Girardeau, he went to college. He received a bachelor’s degree in biblical and theological studies and served as a student pastor. Subsequently, he returned to the City of Scott City where he served as the Director of Public Works for the last seven years. Recently, Whitworth was named City Administrator.

Overview of Role

“My role as City Administrator is to oversee all departments and help with growth of residential, retail and industrial development. We recently received a $2.5 million grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development to add infrastructure for an industrial site on Nash Road. In addition to that significant regional project, I work daily to connect people, businesses and developers in support of future economic growth in Scott City.”

Future of Economic Development

“I think the future is very bright and things are heading in the right direction. We have a team of people who are on the same page. I have seen changes to our regional economic development efforts, and I am excited to play a role on that team moving forward.”