Yesterday, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens received the report of the Governor’s Innovation Task Force, conducted under the auspices of the nonprofit Hawthorn Foundation. The Governor asked the Task Force to assess the state of innovation in Missouri and to offer a range of options for potential state action, not watered-down consensus recommendations. Members of the committee presented the report and discussed its findings with the Governor in St. Louis.
“Our mission is to create more jobs and higher pay in Missouri. New businesses create jobs. Missouri can be the leader in innovation and new business startups between the coasts in the next 10 years,” said Governor Greitens.
The Task Force was launched on June 19, 2017 as a volunteer effort to bring together innovators, academic researchers, public officials, business people, civic leaders, and others from across the state. In the course of its work, the Task Force engaged over 2,000 people in developing its findings, through five workshops (St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia, and Cape Girardeau), surveys, and interviews. The Task Force completed its work in 75 days.
In its final report, the Task Force offered an overview of the current state of innovation in Missouri and a range of over 30 options for State Government to consider to help innovators start and build new businesses in Missouri. Importantly, it emphasizes a statewide approach to support innovation in every corner of Missouri.
In receiving the report, Governor Greitens said: “Missouri is ready to lead, but we’re going to have to embrace more bold ideas to build a thriving, prosperous economy. The Task Force’s option of a new Missouri innovation fund is the sort of bold thinking we need. I’m excited that my team will be working with private sector leaders and legislative leaders to make ideas like this a reality.”
This idea would build upon the Missouri Technology Corporation structure to create a new professionally managed investment fund, capitalizing on current assets and resources, such as existing appropriations and the state’s AAA credit rating, with new methods to attract institutional and individual private sector investors, endowments, and other private capital.
Todd Richardson, Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives (Poplar Bluff, MO) said: “This is a bold vision, and it will make Missouri a global leader in attracting and supporting entrepreneurship. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the Governor to turn this plan into a reality.”
Ron Richard, President Pro Tem of the Missouri Senate (Joplin, MO) said: “Missouri must continue to look forward in order to compete in the ever-changing global economy. Nearly every aspect of the economy has changed since Missouri last addressed how the state supports entrepreneurship, and it is time for the state to change the way it does business, too.”
Dan Mehan, President/CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Jefferson City, MO) said: “It’s going to take a new approach to make Missouri a global economic leader. The idea of a Missouri innovation fund is exactly the kind of bold thinking that our state’s business community has been calling for.”
Tim Noonan, Founder at NICE Glass (St. Louis, MO) said: “Missouri needs to compete to win. The option of creating a new Missouri innovation fund that combines public and private financing with top grade, independent professional management is bold. It would signal to the country that Missouri is where entrepreneurs should start their dreams.”
Caleb Rowden, Missouri State Senator (Columbia, MO) said: “Missouri is primed and ready to grow in innovation and entrepreneurship. It is time for us to take a serious look at what the state’s role is in supporting this sector of our economy.”
John Rizzo, Missouri State Senator (Kansas City, MO) said: “I was happy to be a part of the Task Force this is the kind of outside the box thinking we need for Missouri to compete in the growing technology sector.”
Travis Fitzwater, Missouri State Representative (Jefferson City, MO): “I am pleased that the Governor's Innovation Task Force moved fast and developed a set of options to improve Missouri's innovation and competitiveness. There are some bold ideas here for what we can do as a state to jumpstart innovation.”
Kevin Austin, Missouri State Representative (Springfield, MO): “I was happy to be a member of the Task Force steering committee, and I appreciated how it engaged over 2,000 people from across the state. Missouri has made great progress in innovation, but we still have a long way to go before we are a national leader. The Task Force report offers some bold options that we should take seriously.”
Over the coming months, the ideas outlined in the Task Force report will be evaluated to identify those that have the most potential to help Missouri win the global competition for jobs. More information about the Task Force, its final report, and the Hawthorn Foundation can be found by visiting www.hawthornfoundation.org.