AREA -- The Jobs and Industrial Development (JID) group will meet Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Oregon County Music Theater at 5th and Walnut streets in Thayer. The February topic will be tourism, and a speaker from the Missouri Department of Tourism is scheduled to attend.
The JID group has held meetings in the area to find ways to attract new jobs to the community. Participants from Thayer, Mammoth Spring, Alton and Koshkonong have attended and offered ideas and support. Speakers from SMSU at West Plains and the University of Missouri have participated in the meetings.
The JID group recently elected to promote the hiring of an economic developer as their number one priority. The position recently vacated by Will Ingram, is now open in Oregon County and interviews are being conducted to fill that position.
New business development is also a priority with the JID group. "We are attracting a significant number of retirees with great skills to the area and they are interested in starting businesses here," said JID member Jenny Underwood. She added that statistics from the Small Business Administration showed that new and small businesses in America generate 99 percent of new jobs in the country.
Underwood said a Web site for current jobs in the area is posted at www.ozarks.com/jobs/. This is to assist local workers in job opportunities and determine the number of jobs available to set a baseline for job growth. Typically only about 20 percent of jobs are advertised so there are a number of word-of-mouth jobs that get filled without postings.
The JID group is currently is the process of developing a simple survey to ask existing businesses what their hiring plans are for the next one to three years. A key question on the survey will be how local organizations can assist in that effort.
Another Web site for jobs and industrial development is posted at www.ozarks.com/dev/ which shows studies indicating a new job is created in an area for every $4,000 spent by a retiree. Another goal of the group is to make sure there are businesses that cater to the population that is relocating to the area.
A JID member said she thinks tourism is the most significant driver in the area for visitors and provides a stable base of opportunities for existing and new businesses. "We are fortunate to have great places to visit and friendly people at those places to greet our visitors. The reopening of the Tally Ho and the new Super 8 motel offers even more rooms for our tourists. The Oregon County Country Music Theater is attracting a cadre of people to the area every weekend. The next meeting should brainstorm ways to generate even more tourism business," Underwood said. Future projects JID members will be focusing on include utilities coming to the Thayer Industrial Park and the need for a spec building and how to raise funds for the building.