Strategy in Rural Economic Development

STRATEGY is not merely a fancy word. It is a way of doing business that differs from the ordinary.  A strategy is a plan that links together the available resources—organizational, human, financial, and other—in reasoned sequences and combinations to achieve a desired objective.

A real strategy therefore requires at least these elements: a clearly understood objective, a reasoned plan for achieving it, the ability to mobilize and manage resources in accord with the plan, and an understanding of how actions taken in support of the plan can be expected to interact with the context in which action is taken.  A strategy that lacks these elements is more likely to be wishful than effective.
Elements of a National Strategy

What kinds of strategies might we use to address rural problems?  Two appear to have promise:  building new economic strengths and developing effective marketing.
Building new economic strengths.

An obvious strategy to counter rural America’s loss of comparative advantage in low-wage manufacturing and natural resource production and extraction is to develop new competencies. The objective of this strategy is to build comparative economic advantage in a new industry, or in a new product or service line within an existing industry.
Distance from markets remains a major obstacle to rural development. Rural producers are cut off from information about input and product markets and their goods and services are more costly or difficult to trans- port. By producing goods that have an edge over the competition—goods with especially high quality.

By showcasing a uniqueness, or Possessing the materials, products or ability to meet a specialized need—rural America can create a market for its goods that over- comes transportation costs.
One means of achieving this is by applying the Nation’s investment in technology to create new goods and services whose technologically based edge cannot readily be duplicated by the competition. Technology can lead to this result in two ways. It can lead to the development of new products that, because they em- ploy new technologies, have a creative edge.  And it can be applied to develop advanced methods of pro- ducing low-tech products and services, thereby im- proving efficiency and cutting costs.
A focus on new technologies does not substitute for developing and producing competitive products. On the other hand, a focus on existing technologies, with- out thinking beyond the limits they impose, may preclude a wider range of economic possibilities. Technology has the potential to position the rural economy as a producer of goods and services that the world wants to buy, and is willing to pay well to get. How- ever, to be effective, it is essential that we focus squarely on the outcome we desire—a competitive rural economy—and not on certain inputs, such as particular technologies or industrial products for which we would like to find uses.
Developing effective marketing. Producing more competitive goods and services will work only if rural areas also are able to sell what they produce. Rural areas will become better off when they develop the ability to sell to high-value markets. The second strategy, then, is to help rural America position itself to sell to these markets.

Business Strategy Sphere
The essential ingredients to building an effective rural marketing response include understanding marketing strategies and opportunities, and having the ability to create and implement those strategies.

*(J. Norman Reid is Director, Strategy Development Staff, Rural Development Administration, USDA.  This article is based on his speech given at USDA’s Agriculture Outlook Conference).


Thinking of starting a new small business?

Small Business Links for help

Links to Organizations & Agencies

While this site provides access to basic information for starting and operating a business in Missouri, it is only a starting point. It is not intended to provide legal advice or replace the services of an attorney, accountant or other professional.


Missouri Business Portal

The Business Portal is a gateway to your business in Missouri, a one-stop shop for business owners to access on-line information on operating businesses in this state. The site focuses on four key areas in business operations: research, registration, maintenance and resources. There is information to guide business owners through the procedures and regulations for starting a business, growing a business and wrapping up a business. It also provides links to other state and federal agency websites with information on employment taxes, development and capital raising programs and business consulting.


MO SourceLink

MOSourceLink connects small business owners with a network of nonprofit resource organizations that provide business-building services. They facilitate the linking of these resource organizations to one another and to established, emerging and start-up small businesses throughout the region.

The Resource Navigator allows you to do your own customized online search for the network resources in your area that can meet your needs. You can use the Resource Navigator in addition to talking to a real person at MOSourceLink, or you can begin your search with the Resource Navigator.


Missouri Department of Revenue

The Missouri Department of Revenue site provides tax forms, publications, information, answers to frequently asked questions, court case summaries, and letter rulings relating to income, sales/use, and other business taxes.

If you plan to conduct business in Missouri, make retail sales or hire employees you must register with the Missouri Department of Revenue. For information on how to register, visit their website at


University of Missouri-Columbia Community Development Extension Program

Many small community groups and organizations are doing great work all over the State of Missouri. Sometimes they struggle to decide whether or not to formally incorporate. For some groups it is an easy choice and for others it is not. This project was designed to help groups as they decide whether or not to formally incorporate and to guide them through the process should they decide to create a 501(c)(3) corporation.


Internal Revenue Service

This Internal Revenue Service site includes information about federal taxation and reporting.


Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

Business owners are faced with a maze of legal and regulatory requirements concerning their employees. This Missouri agency provides helpful information on issues such as disability, discrimination, job seeking services, labor market, labor laws, unemployment, workers’ compensation, and worker safety.


Division of Employment Security

New employers are required to file an Unemployment Tax Registration with the Division of Employment Security (DES) to determine whether or not they are liable to provide unemployment coverage to employees.


Division of Worker’s Compensation

New employers that employ five or more employees (or one or more if in the construction industry) are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Employers are also required to report any workplace injuries that require medical treatment (other than immediate first aid) or cause an employee to miss work to the Division of Workers’ Compensation within 30 days of knowledge of the injury. Workplace fatalities are also required to be reported within that same time frame.

All employers are required to post several workplace posters containing state and federal laws in a visible location in the place of employment for all to see. Posters can be downloaded or requested free of charge by visiting or calling 573-751-4091.


Missouri Division of Professional Registration

The division provides administrative support to 40 professional licensing boards and commissions responsible for licensing and regulating the activities of approximately 430,000 Missourians.

The division exists to serve and protect the public from incompetency, misconduct, gross negligence, fraud, misrepresentation or dishonesty by providing an accessible, responsible and accountable regulatory system that licenses only qualified professionals by examination and evaluation of minimum competency and enforces standards by implementing legislation and administrative rules.


Missouri Department of Economic Development
Division of Workforce Development

The division provides services for businesses and job seekers through the Missouri Career Centers and The division works with a number of strategic partners to “skill-up” Missouri’s workforce for today’s business and industry needs. A wealth of information and resources about workforce services can be found on WorkSmartMissouri.


Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board

SBRFB ensures that Missouri state agency rules and regulations do not create an unfair burden for small businesses. SBRFB, working with small business owners throughout Missouri, ensures that the voice of small business is considered when state rules and regulations are created. SBRFB works with state departments and agencies to identify rules and regulations that place an unfair burden on small business owners and recommends alternatives that benefit all parties.


Missouri Business Development Programs

This site provides extensive information on all aspects of business formation and operation in Missouri, including information pertaining to licensing, formation, financing, hiring, taxes, marketing and resources.

The Missouri Business Development Program (MBDP) serves as a centralized point of contact for state requirements to do business in Missouri. MBDP staff can help both the seasoned business owner and the first-time entrepreneur begin operations with confidence knowing that all legal requirements have been met.

MBDP services and programs include:


Securities & Investing

Access to capital is important for a business’ growth and success. But it is also important to be aware that, like all states, Missouri regulates how businesses can legally raise capital.


Missouri Linked Deposit Program – Missouri State Treasurer’s Office

The Missouri Linked Deposit Program partners with lending institutions to provide low-interest loans to help create and retain jobs, expand the economy and strengthen communities statewide. By reducing the interest rate on certain loans that borrowers can use to improve their businesses, the program helps qualified lenders from Missouri better serve Missouri-based companies and agricultural operations. The program also provides funds for local governments to serve the interests of their constituents. Using the program allows lenders to lower the interest rates to the borrower by about 2-3 percent.


United States Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency that offers a wide variety of services for new and expanding businesses, including business seminars on advertising/marketing, financial sources, record-keeping, insurance, legal considerations, computers, and business loan programs. SBA also offers free counseling to small businesses through the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). The Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) provide management assistance to current and prospective small business owners in regional branch locations.


Office of Equal Opportunity

(Minority Owned & Women Owned Businesses)

The office of Equal Opportunity exists to promote a diversified workforce within state government and to assist women and minorities in developing opportunities to contract with the state economically empowering traditionally underserved communities and improving the overall fiscal vitality of the State of Missouri.


Missouri State Government

This link provides websites for the Missouri legislature and elected officials, and links to most agencies and departments of the executive branch of Missouri state government

216 CDBG Application Workshops Announced!

2016 CDBG Application Workshops


The Missouri CDBG program will four training sessions in January 2016 to teach participants how to complete the FY2016 CDBG application for non-entitlement areas of the state (cities of less than 50,000 and counties of less than 200,000 in population).  Participants will learn the basic application requirements, plus more specific information geared toward each category of funding.  Applications will be available at each workshop and will also be available on the Missouri Department of Economic Development website.  The workshops are free and open to the public, and no registration is necessary.


As part of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, CDBG assists Missouri communities improve local facilities, address critical health and safety concerns, and create a greater capacity for development.  For more information, please contact us at 573-751-3600.


Workshop Schedule:


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

9:00 am-Noon

Truman Building, Room 490

301 W High St.

Jefferson City, Missouri


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

9:00 am-Noon

Ozark Foothills Regional Planning Commission Office

3019 Fair

Poplar Bluff, Missouri


Thursday, January 7, 2016

9:00 am-Noon

Missouri Career Center

2900 E. Sunshine

Springfield, Missouri


Friday, January 8

9:00 am-Noon

Lager Building

96 SE 8th Ave

Trenton, Missouri


In the event of inclement or hazardous weather conditions, CDBG may cancel a scheduled workshop.  Please call 573-751-3600 to confirm the status of scheduled events.


If you have further questions, do not hesitate to call me!

Shayla Sparks

Bates County Economic Developer



In honor of Global Entrepreneurial Week . . . 5 Reasons to start your business in Missouri!

Today marks the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a weeklong celebration of innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life and drive economic growth.

And what better way to celebrate this occasion than by reminding you why Missouri is the best place for entrepreneurs? It was very hard to do…but we narrowed it down to 5 Reasons to Start your Business in Missouri:


Booming entrepreneurial ecosystem – Missouri currently boasts the 2nd most startup accelerators per capita, and is currently one of the top 10 states for startup funding. The state is also home to numerous organizations and programs that accelerate economic development by providing grant funding to budding businesses, including the Missouri Technology Corporation, Arch Grants, Capital Innovators, 1ST50K, and the Prosper Startup Accelerator, among many others. And according to the latest census data, Missouri also led the nation in new business formations!


Top-notch, educated workforce – You can connect with staff that have the skills and knowledge to grow your new business in the Show-Me State. With more than three million educated workers, Missouri’s talent pool is larger than the total population of 20 other states, including many of its neighbors. Additionally, the state’s high school graduation rate is 5 percent higher than the nation average, and the state is home to several nationally-ranked post-secondary institutions. To top it off, Missouri makes training your workforce easy with the nation’s #7 best workforce training environment, led by Missouri Works Training.


Pro-business environment – Businesses that start in Missouri thrive – which is why Missouri has been ranked among the Top 10 Pro-Business States by Pollina Corporate for six years running. On top of that, we have the 4th best corporate income tax index, 11th lowest cost of doing business, and the 6th lowest industrial electricity rates. Together, these factors helped Missouri recently grab the title of the #1 state in the nation for new business creation.


Excellent location and infrastructure – When starting a business, location is EVERYTHING. And as the country’s population center, Missouri is also within 600 miles of 53 percent of all national manufacturing plants. This central location is aided by Missouri’s vast network of transportation infrastructure, including the nation’s 6th largest public road and highway system, 14 public port authorities, two international airports, 10th largest railroad mileage, and 10th largest inland waterway mileage. Additionally, Missouri’s infrastructure has been ranked the 6th best in the nation. Bottom line – you can connect with your growing clientele quickly.


Culture of innovation – Inspiring your team is key to ensure business success. From rolling farmland to bustling metropolises to up-and-coming suburbs, there’s nowhere like Missouri to find such a diverse synergy of resources and attractions that keep a high stock of talent around. With the nation’s 4th most diverse economy, in Missouri you can find a fashion firm living next door to a technology startup, right down the hall from a healthcare company and a new coffee shop. Visit our many innovation centers, take a walk through the numerous historic downtown shopping districts – everywhere you look, the fabric of Missouri culture blends seamlessly with innovation.