My First Few Months

So, I am now officially in my fifth month as the Bates County Economic Developer. I really just want to use this blog entry to give an overview of how these first months have been going so that you can see kind of where I am. Before I start though, it is important for me to explain that this kind of job has a certain amount of discretion to it. While I would love to write on here every time a business is showing interest in Bates County, I cannot do that. When a business is looking to expand or relocate, they oftentimes would like to stay anonymous until a final decision is made. Once they do make a decision (whether it is this county or not) there are then guidelines to follow on what needs to be done before any announcement is made. To sum it up nicely…trust me, whenever anything is happening, the moment I am allowed to say anything about it, I will.

With all of that being said, there are still a lot of things going on in the County that I can discuss.  I spent a good month or so at Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission, really just taking in everything around me. I sat down with representatives of the cities, went to council meetings, and club meetings just to meet as many people as possible. I also attended quite a few conference, like the American Planning Association Missouri Conference and the Missouri Economic Development Council Fall Conference. Because of all of this, I was able to create a huge to-do list and prioritize it.

I have a simple philosophy about how to help this county grow economically. As cheesy as it sounds, you have to have a foundation before you can build a house. I am really approaching this job by not looking at what the county needs, but what assets it already has to grow on.  Bates County has great asset, for example: Interstate 49, railroads, supportive towns, land, the hospital, the museum, schools, Rich Hill’s parks, Butler Square, Adrian’s Main Street, and many more.

To grow upon this, I am starting to write a few plans throughout the County. Rich Hill had a Sidewalks Plan written a few years ago, so to build on that I am starting to work on a Streets Plan. Adrian’s Economic Development group had started researching Economic Development Plans, so I am going to build upon that. Then there is Butler who has a Comprehensive Plan and Subdivision Regulations that were written more than 30 years ago, so I am updating them. All of these plans will be done with a process and community involvement because I value all members of this community and their opinions.  I believe that community involvement is important for anything like this, so when I get beyond just the setup phase I will let everybody know.  What all of these plans have in common is that they are long term and will help determine the best way to move forward.

So that is kind of the big picture. On a smaller scale, one project I have recently started (and am really excited about) is business development. While bringing businesses from the outside is great, it is just as important to grow the existing businesses from within. Bates County is a great county, with great businesses in place, and it needs to be marketed that way. I am working on possibly having seminars to assist with this, whether your business needs help marketing, or you would like to expand, I want to try to cover it. Google is one of the largest search engines in the world, so when somebody is searching for anything in the region, I want to make sure that businesses in this county are included.  Taking advantage of the internet is the best possible way you can market your business, like using Facebook or Twitter, or even just creating a simple webpage.  In order to do something like this, there needs to be interest, so I will soon be going around to businesses to just get acquainted with the owners and see what their needs are.  If you are interested in sitting down with me to discuss this I would love for you to reach out to me so we may be able to setup a time to meet.

There are quite a few other small projects I am always working on, like constantly trying to find grant money for anything.  I am always attending functions and staying as involved as possible. Butler has started up the Community Betterment group again, so if anybody would like to be involved with that feel free to contact me. The more people that come to the meetings, the better!

There are a few specific topics I will be touching on next time, such as everything going on in Missouri right now, especially with the one cent sales tax. As always, feel free to contact me with anything! Whether it is just meeting for lunch or if you have any ideas about improving our area, I am here to listen first and foremost for you.

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Welcome!

I want to welcome everybody to my blog!  With my job I feel that it is important to have community involvement and letting everybody know what I am working on.  I have been trying to find the best way to do that, and I feel this is it. I feel that I have done so much in my first four months and I am just getting started. I won’t bore you with the day-by-day details, but I do plan on posting twice a month with general updates.  Then of course if something really exciting is happening I will post that immediately! I will start simple, though, and let you know a little bit about me…

I grew up in a small town outside of Columbus, Ohio, called Pataskala.  I am the youngest of four (twin brothers and a sister) and have two amazing, supportive parents. I am a very very proud graduate of Ohio University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. (How did I get into economic development? We’ll get to that) After graduating I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for 5 years, working at Ruby Tuesday and going to graduate school at the University of Cincinnati. I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Community Planning in April of 2013, and moved shortly after to the fine state of Missouri for this job as the Bates County Economic Developer.

Now, how the jump from music education to community planning happened.  I play the saxophone and piano and I love music, but I realized I did not have the passion to teach shortly after graduating.  I took three years off before going back to school and I spent those years really researching and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I worked in insurance for almost two years and got to work a lot with housing and businesses, and realized how interesting I found it.  I decided to go to UC just to get information on community planning and instantly fell in love.  I knew it was going to be a challenge and I knew I was going to have to completely start over, but it was worth it in every way because I can honestly say I have the perfect job!

Of course I cannot forget to mention my amazing husband who supported me through everything above.  His name is Nick and he is a manager at the Ruby Tuesday in Belton. He also grew up in a small Ohio town, so moving here was like moving home for both of us.  We moved here with our two dogs, Emma and Luna, in September and are temporarily living in Belton.  As of the beginning of February however, we will officially be homeowner’s and moving to northern Bates County.

Well, that is my life in a nutshell. Nick and I have worked hard in these first months trying to get to know the community and attend as many functions as we can.  If you ever see us out and about, feel free to come introduce yourself!  I will start with my job in the next post and go from there.  I am really looking forward to this blog as I really do want everybody to know how hard I am working and how much I really appreciate this opportunity.  My schedule and contact information is located to the left, so feel free to contact me anytime.