Whenever there’s an article about a small business or restaurant opening up in Sedalia, there’s frequently at least one person in the comment section saying something like this: “That’s nice, but what we need are some manufacturing jobs”.
Sure, there’s no denying that some sort of new factory expansion or old factory relocation to the State Fair City would be a boon for the local economy but it seems to me that comments like that are being unfair to the steady economic benefit we’ve been receiving from those smaller establishments.
Sedalia Democrat reporter Nicole Cooke recently reported on a release by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (With an abbreviation like MERIC they should definitely find a reason to add a word that starts with “A” at the end for the sake of patriotism).
According to MERIC in 2015 Pettis County had the highest taxable sales revenue of all the counties in the 13-county west central region of Missouri. Of course, seeing as Sedalia is the home of most of the places where one might choose to shop in Pettis County those are pretty much our numbers and it’s easy to see where our thanks needs to go.
Lately thanks to the hard work of the Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County, the Sedalia city administration and the representatives of other local organizations we’ve been seeing a steady stream of businesses that are choosing to enter a new market by opening a location in Sedville.
We weren’t just slightly better than the other counties, we blew them out of the water. There’s a $171,059,155 difference between Pettis and the next highest county, Johnson – past that the drops are even more serious. And there’s a good chance that these numbers are going to keep trending upward in 2016 thanks to the addition of Sedalia’s much anticipated Hobby Lobby among others.
We live in a society where it is increasingly difficult to attract new businesses without without making them increasingly business friendly deals that continue to delay or decrease the amounts that they will actually contribute to their new community. That is, unless your state happens to border a state like Kansas whose economy is actively being destroyed by its own governor. Come on over to Missouri, we probably won’t insist on electing someone at least two times who is too partisan to do the things that need to be done to recover their state.
This is the key to continued economic success in Sedalia: we need to continue to be the new home of establishments that people could normally only patronize in places like Columbia, St. Louis and the Kansas City area. We need to continue to build our reputation as a place where people come to shop and eat for a day or a weekend. We need to continue to build our reputation as one of the only significant portions of civilization in the midlands of Missouri. We need to make sure that those people coming through on their way to the lake each weekend find a store or a restaurant that they just can’t resist stopping at.
There’s also other good news, according to MERIC. Pettis County unemployment is at 4.3 percent and pretty much anyone you might ask agrees that it hasn’t been that low in a great long while. Sedalia is apparently a great place to spend your money and also a great place to earn your money.
And it’s not because we’ve attracted very many factory jobs, but because we’ve attracted a steady series of establishments that each employ less than a new manufacturing plant would. But their powers combined add up to serious economic benefit for Sedalia, Pettis County and mid-Missouri and we should appreciate that.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.