Overseen by the director, the department’s administration is comprised of many units and supports sections including general counsel, financial systems, budget and planning, legislative affairs, marketing/communications, and human resources. These units support the department’s agencies and its overall mission to grow the state of Missouri.
Mike Downing is the Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development and a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) authorized by the International Economic Development Council. As a true believer in developing strong partnerships, Downing works tirelessly with local and regional economic developers as well as with like-minded institutions, educational and research organizations, and other agencies in the business of growing the State of Missouri. From leading expansion negotiations with major global companies like Cerner, Monsanto and Boeing to helping tech and bioscience startups access the resources they need to create jobs and develop their product or service, Downing is in the business of helping businesses grow. As a result, Missouri led the country in new business creation in 2013 and became a top 10 state for startup funding for the first time ever (Forbes). As a member of the Governor’s Automotive Task Force created in 2009, Downing played a crucial role in the automotive resurgence, working with labor union leaders, education and workforce organizations, and executives at Ford and GM to help develop strategic economic incentives needed to revitalize this industry. Missouri’s auto sector has since rebounded over the past six years with plant employment doubling the 2010 levels. During his time as director, Missouri landed the nation’s largest expansion project for 2014 (Cerner announces plans to embark on $4.45B expansion in Kansas City, creating 16,000 new jobs), was awarded its first Gold Shovel from Area Development Magazine (one of five states), and was named by Pollina Corporate as having the #1 economic development agency in the nation. Mike has also helped lead several successful trade missions around the world to increase trade and connect Missouri businesses with foreign markets. The state’s exports reached record sales in 2012 followed by the second highest year on record in 2014. And to develop local talent and enhance economic development for rural Missouri, the department spearheads the Certified Work Ready Community initiative. As the state with the first CWRC in the nation, Missouri now has (25) counties fully certified and (65) more on their way to certification—which involves having a percentage of the local workforce obtain career readiness certificates.
Mike has a Masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Bachelor’s degree from Arkansas State University. A native Missourian from the Kennett area, Mike has been with DED from 1982, except for nearly two years as Executive Director for the Missouri CORE Partnership. He also serves on boards for the following organizations:
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDowning41