Since my first day in the Missouri General Assembly, my No. 1 priority has been economic development and job creation. During my 16 years in Jefferson City, my colleagues and I have passed numerous economic development measures intended to grow Missouri’s economy. I firmly believe a good paying job empowers all Missourians to reach their full potential. During the past week in the Missouri Senate, my colleagues and I approved two legislative proposals aiming to make Missouri more attractive in the eyes of business leaders and job creators.
Senate Bill 549 reauthorizes two of Missouri’s most important economic development tools. Under the legislation, the Missouri Works Training Program and the Missouri Works Program are extended until 2030. Under current law, both of these programs were set to expire on July 1, 2019.
The Missouri Works Training Program addresses the No. 1 challenge facing Missouri businesses in today’s growing economy – finding educated, skilled workers. Through this program, businesses receive funding for job training when they introduce new product lines, new technology, competition-driven quality or productivity improvements or when they are expanding or relocating their business within Missouri. However, this isn’t just a handout. Participating businesses must maintain the created jobs for at least 5 years, or they will be forced to return the assistance provided by the state. In addition, participating businesses cannot move the jobs out of state. If they do, they will be forced to repay their state funding. As a result of this program, Missouri has seen more than 9,500 new jobs and the state has retained more than 121,000 jobs as a direct result of the Missouri Works Training Program.
The Missouri Works Program is the state’s top economic development tool for attracting and retaining businesses. The program incentivizes businesses to expand their operations as well as hire new employees through the ability to retain their withholding taxes on the new jobs or receive refundable tax credits. The Missouri Works Program is a performance based program, companies do not receive their incentives until they create new jobs or expand their businesses. Like the Missouri Works Training Program, the Missouri Works Program also includes a clawback provision. If a participating business uses the assistance received through the program to move jobs or resources out of Missouri, the company will be eliminated from the program. For every dollar invested by the state in the Missouri Works program, it has generated more than $3.29 in economic activity. As a businessman myself, this is an impressive return on investment. These two programs have a proven track record of creating jobs and helping businesses expand. Extending these programs sends an important message to the business community, Missouri is open for business.
In addition, the Missouri Senate approved Senate Bill 629. This legislation aims to reform the State Supplemental Tax Increment Financing (State TIF) program. Through this program, the state can provide financing for large-scale economic development projects. Currently the program has a $32 million cap, and a majority of the available funding has already been allocated to one project. SB 629 carves out the existing project and lowers the cap to $10 million annually. This ensures qualifying companies can participate in the program. In addition, the legislation caps the amount of funding available to companies at $3 million per project. Companies looking to participate in this program must create new, high paying jobs in order to receive the TIF. This program isn’t for every business, but I believe it can play a huge role when it comes to attracting large businesses to the Show-Me State.
I am proud to support both of these legislative proposals. Economic development and job creation play an important role in making Missouri a better place to live, work and raise a family. I am confident both of these proposals will receive approval from the Missouri House of Representatives and make it to the governor’s desk before the end of the legislative session.