From his day one in office, Gov. Mike Parson has had as a priority economic development and workforce development. He has had the support of members of the General Assembly and business, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

This past week, the governor signed Senate Bill 68 into law. Its goal is to boost economic development and workforce programs.

Provisions in the bill include recommendations from the Missouri Chamber Foundation’s 2030 Report and the Missouri Chamber’s 2019 legislative agenda.

The bill centered on two challenges facing the state’s business community: workforce preparation and economic competitiveness. The bill is designed to help small businesses, as well as large ones. The Chamber president Dan Mehan said the bill will empower thousands of Missourians to equip themselves with “in-demand skills, giving job creators better access to critical workforce resources” and will boost the “effectiveness of our state’s economic development tools.”

What the bill will do —

Create Missouri Fast Track, which will provide financial aid for adults pursuing education and training for high demand industries.

Establish Missouri One Start to streamline, simplify and improve the state’s workforce training programs, making it easier for employers to use. Funding for the program will be performance-based and has a provision to protect taxpayers and ensure more funding goes directly into job training.

Creation of a “deal closing” fund to give Missouri a key negotiating tool to finalize business investments.

Tools to help retain automotive jobs by granting $5 million in tax credits annually to automotive manufacturers that invest $500 million or more in plant upgrades and agreement to retain current workers.

The bill has the potential to give economic development a boost, but the administration of it is vital. Keen oversight will be needed for accountability.