Beating the Competition - The Missourian: Opinion

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Beating the Competition

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Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2012 12:00 am

There is an effort under way in Missouri to try to create awareness of the competition that exists in luring new or expanding industries to the state. The most critical competition is from our neighbor Kansas, according to Save Missouri Jobs, a new organization that has launched an effort to encourage residents, businesses and leaders to push for action from Missouri government.

The organization has pointed to tax cuts that will be effective in Kansas next year. Leaders in the western section of Missouri particularly are concerned about this competition. But overall, making Kansas more attractive to business through tax cuts could be a problem for other sections of Missouri. We experienced Kansas competition here and it was tough opposition to overcome. It was a struggle. Missouri couldn’t match what Kansas offered, but the state did make a good offer, and with what the community had to offer sealed the deal for Washington and the state.

There always are other factors involved in a competitive battle such as the one we had, but in the end it was the action of the community that was important. The fact that nearly immediate financing by a local lending institution was offered made a positive impression. The city’s representatives’ cooperation, attitude and response by them played a vital role in negotiations. Other factors that play a part in being competitive is the available labor force, experience of existing industries in a community, educational opportunities, appearance of the community, and of course, available shovel ready sites, necessary infrastructure, electrical and communication resources, highways, airport and in some instances, existing buildings for lease or for sale.

The spokesman for Save Missouri Jobs, Woody Cozad, said the situation with Kansas could “be really ugly” for Missouri if the state does not respond to new tax breaks enacted in Kansas. Our neighbor to the west is cutting the individual income tax rate for 2013 and eliminating income taxes for the owners of 191,000 businesses. The top rate for all individual income taxpayers is to drop to 4.9 percent from 6.45 percent. There are other tax breaks effective in 2013 in Kansas.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed the tax breaks into law this past May. At that time he said the tax cuts would create tens of thousands of new jobs while making Kansas “the best place in America to start and grow a small business.” While taxes are a consideration for a business that is expanding or locating a new plant, there are other factors that are important. We know that from experience. We just mentioned some of them.

The Associated Press pointed out that Missouri borders eight states, but the competition over jobs and economic development has been particularly fierce against Kansas. And to be more specific, Kansas is a tough competitor for the Kansas City area.

We hope Missouri lawmakers are aware of what our neighbor is doing to make that state attractive to businesses.

/opinion

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