Sedalia, Missouri, May 11, 2021 – From pandemic response assistance to external grant funding for area industry to expanded small business support, Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County (EDSPC) is the go-to organization for the region’s economic success.
After spending the last year bringing together existing and new manufacturers and businesses to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the area’s top economic development agency is ready for the future.
Beginning in March 2020,the EDSPC brought existing manufacturers and new businesses together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in stronger business relationships and zero company closures.
Meeting virtually each week, EDSPC staff, plant managers, human resources managers, safety managers, transportation managers and others shared best practices in their business’ responses to the pandemic. The Pettis County Health Center also participated by educating businesses about COVID-19 and collectively developing a triage system to avoid major outbreaks within the workplace so businesses could remain open.
Hosting meetings for 57 consecutive weeks with a total of 2,061 participants, EDSPC staff provided a means of peer-to-peer communication for managers to share ideas and information.
Jessica Craig, EDSPC executive director, said the meeting frequency and urgency of the situation resulted in stronger business relationships among everyone involved.
“We were their connector for anything they needed,” Craig said. “We armed them with resources and knowledge such as when federal resources became available and where to get masks, hand sanitizer and thermometers. We pushed information out to our businesses as soon as we could.”
EDSPC also worked with state and local health partners to organize onsite vaccination clinics at the businesses to be available for those who wished to receive a vaccine.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Commerce invested $6.2 million in CARES Act funding to boost economic development programs. Of that funding, the Pioneer Trails Regional Planning Commission received a $400,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to hire additional staff to support local economic development partners, which includes Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County.
Craig said that EDSPC staff is working with the planning commission to use the funds to serve existing businesses working to navigate pandemic-related challenges.
“This effort aims to alleviate additional economic losses by providing businesses with transition plans to become more resilient,” Craig said. “Businesses dealing with economic losses from the pandemic in Sedalia and Pettis County are encouraged to reach out to me or Sydnae Cavness (economic development specialist) at the economic development office. We are here to help them get through the pandemic without closing their doors and make a plan for the future.”
According to Craig, several business expansion projects have been established due to shifts in consumer buying habits, company consolidations, global pressures on the supply chain or global pressures on production. She shared that area industries are not the only organizations rebounding, shifting or expanding priorities.
The EDSPC has been approved to partner with State Fair Community College to support the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) located at SFCC’s Sedalia campus.
“From all of the negative outcomes from a global pandemic, we are still fiercely optimistic about our area’s economy,” Craig said. “It’s the perfect time for not only our businesses and manufacturers to pivot and to adjust but for us as well.”
The Missouri SBDC at SFCC was established in November 2015 and the Missouri SBDC has been assisting small businesses across the state since 1977.
After expressing an interest in partnering with SFCC, Craig and her team began working with the University of Missouri Extension. The Missouri SBDC is part of the nation’s largest small business assistance programs and is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Missouri SBDC is here to help business owners and entrepreneurs get the information needed to make confident decisions and help Missouri businesses succeed. It doesn’t matter if the business is a metro area start up or a rural company looking to expand. The business experts of the Missouri SBDC are your neighbors, dedicated to helping businesses grow.
“We wanted to expand services for small businesses and entrepreneurs in a bigger capacity,” Craig said. “Sedalia and Pettis County are teeming with small businesses, and they need resources to succeed.”
Extending its commitment, EDPSC staff has spent time and resources training to become small business counselors. Staff member Sydnae Cavness has participated in economic development training courses ranging from business attraction, marketing and business retention and entrepreneurship, and small business strategy over the past 18 months. Both Cavness and Craig are certified small business development counselors.
“We are excited to join forces with Kelly Asbury, Center Director at the Missouri SBDC at SFCC,” Craig said. “Kelly has been recognized statewide for her efforts and expertise helping small businesses and together we are confident we can continue guiding small businesses to start and thrive in our economy. It takes grit and determination to start a business and we want to help business owners dream big. Their success is everyone’s success.”
Reflecting on the challenges over the last year, Craig said the experience opened up opportunities for her staff and board to unite with Sedalia and Pettis County manufacturers and help them emerge from a difficult time stronger than ever.
“I thought I knew our business partners pretty well before March 2020,” she said. “This shared experience has brought all of us closer together and affirmed just how important open communication and a collaborative environment are to a community’s success. We already have that in Sedalia and Pettis County, and I firmly believe that our organization is stronger than ever and poised to best support new and existing businesses.”
For more information about EDSPC and to learn about its commitment to new and existing business retention and expansion, call 660-827-0884, or visit sedaliamoed.com.
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Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County specializes in marketing Sedalia and Pettis County, Missouri, to industrial companies that want to build new or relocate in the area, as well as retaining the existing industrial base.