Southeast Missouri State University's new division powers economic, workforce growth

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Tuesday, November 14, 2023 ~ Updated 11:39 AM

Aerial footage of Academic hall on SEMO's campus summer 2023

Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) is gearing up to make a significant impact on the regional business community and workforce with its recently established Division of Economic & Workforce Development. Newly named Assistant Vice President of the division, Dan Presson, sheds light on the importance of this initiative and the unique approach SEMO is taking to address the needs of Southeast Missouri.

“The Division of Economic & Workforce Development is designed to serve the specific needs of the regional business community and its workforce,” Presson said. “Collaborating with communities, businesses and regional stakeholders allows SEMO to gain a deep understanding of each community's needs and provide the necessary training and support.”

Dan Presson

Presson says the division actively seeks feedback to identify and respond to the evolving needs of the workforce ensuring that employees possess the skills required for tomorrow's jobs.

“We know the importance of community and business input. Partnerships are pivotal for driving economic growth and workforce development in Southeast Missouri,” Presson said.

The creation of customized and on-demand training programs for regional employers is among the division’s major initiatives. Presson says a substantial regional impact will be providing non-credit training and supporting the unique needs of each workforce segment.

“SEMO recognizes the changing landscape of education and aims to offer non-credit training programs that are accessible to all,” Presson said. “These non-credit courses provide people with a seamless way to access skill-based training across the region, eliminating barriers to entry.”

Presson says SEMO has combined its own economic and workforce development related offices into one cohesive division that allows for greater partnerships and services to the region.

“Southeast Missouri's economic success is directly tied to the prosperity of its workforce,” Presson said. “This dual focus enables the university to offer skill-based support through non-credit training, as well as entrepreneurial, educational, law enforcement and career support to the region.”

Presson says the units within the Division of Economic & Workforce Development play pivotal roles in Southeast Missouri's economic development:

Law Enforcement Academy: Trains capable officers who serve county and municipal police departments as well as private industry across the region.

Regional Professional Development Center (RPDC): Collaborates with 75 school districts and 26 parochial schools to provide training and support to educators and school administrators, thereby enhancing the quality of education in the region.

Small Business Development Center: Covers a 14-county region supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses as they grow, fostering economic vitality.

SEMO Career Services: Connects students with regional and national employers, playing a vital role in creating employment and internship opportunities for the university's students.

Continuing Education/Workforce Development: Creates unique training opportunities, connecting employees with the skills they need for success and employers with the skilled workforce required for growth.

“Southeast Missouri State University is poised to be a driving force for economic development and workforce growth in Southeast Missouri,” Presson said. “From becoming the first four-year institution in Missouri to host an on-campus Missouri Job Center to training new substitute teachers across the region. These innovative moves promise to provide valuable resources and opportunities for job seekers in the region."

As SEMO continues to forge ahead with its innovative approach to economic and workforce development, it stands as a testament to the university's unwavering commitment to the communities and businesses in the region it serves.