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Missouri Group Working on Plan to Transform State's Economy

August 18, 2010

With input from industry leaders in life sciences and tech-based organizations, a group convened by Gov. Jay Nixon is tasked with identifying a vision and mission to transform the state's economy within five years targeting high-growth industries. By the end of the year, the group hopes to identify six to eight key initiatives most likely to impact the economy. Tech-based components will be critical to the plan, with details forthcoming.

The Missouri Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth enlists the leadership of a 40-member task force that includes representatives from business, labor, higher education, and economic development agencies. Representatives from the life sciences sector include Kelly Gillespie, Executive Director of Missouri Biotechnology Association, Don Rubin, Executive Director of the Coaliton for Plant and Life Sciences, and Daniel Getman, President of Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute. Over the next six months, the group will gather and analyze data and provide input and recommendations on proposed strategies and tactical action plans.

The plan comes during a time when the state is struggling to fund life science initiatives. During his State of the State Address earlier this year, Gov. Nixon introduced a proposal to create a funding source aimed at attracting top scientists, commercializing research, recruiting and building science infrastructure, and creating capital programs for early stage technology companies (see the Jan. 6, 2010 issue of the Digest). Under the Missouri Science and Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA), which failed to garner full legislative support, an annual portion of new tax revenues generated by biotechnology companies would be dedicated to a newly-created state fund. The funding then would be reinvested into a wide-range of technology-based economic development programs.

Adding to the state's woes, lawmakers included no new funding this year for the Missouri Life Sciences Research Trust Fund, which was established in 2003 to support life science research, commercialization, and technology transfer using a portion of the state's tobacco settlement funds. In 2007, the General Assembly approved a one-time appropriation of $13.4 million for the fund, followed with a $21 million allocation in FY09 (see the May 21, 2007 and May 14, 2008 issues of the Digest). Last year, lawmakers appropriated $13.3 million for the fund; however, the funds later were restricted due to the budget shortfall and, therefore, no funds were granted.

Learn More About Alternative Models and Sustainability for Financing TBED at SSTI Conference
Most states are struggling in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Mid-year rescissions, furloughs and the uncertainty of annual appropriations is no way to develop a long-term economic recovery strategy. There are alternatives to annual appropriation battles — and an increasing number of states and communities are implementing some more creative ways to support and sustain their TBED portfolios. In this session, we'll profile SSTI research on the broad range of options being used across the country, before focusing on one of the more lucrative, long-term models for financing TBED: securing voter approval for bonds, sale taxes and other referenda. Learn more about the session ...

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