Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Parson Launches Makeover of State Agencies with Eye on Economic Development

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Parson Launches Makeover of State Agencies with Eye on Economic Development

Article excerpt

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday announced he would move hundreds of state employees from the Department of Economic Development to other agencies across state government.

The move, Parson said, will "streamline" the 865-employee Department of Economic Development, or DED, so it can focus squarely on economic development programs, moving extraneous agencies out from under its umbrella.

The size of the office will plummet to 165 after the changes take effect, Parson said.

The move came the morning after Parson, a Republican, delivered his first State of the State address, during which he said he would focus on workforce development and infrastructure investments this legislative session.

In announcing the reorganization, Parson's office cited a study conducted over the summer that concluded the DED had more functions compared with similar state agencies across the country.

States that devoted more of their economic development resources to "directly engaging with businesses ... tended to outperform Missouri in terms of job creation and capital investment," his office said.

Parson signed three executive orders to trigger the shuffling of state government, including one that would boost the Department of Higher Education payroll from about 70 full-time employees this fiscal year to about 409 employees next fiscal year.

Commissioner of Higher Education Zora Mulligan said the Department of Economic Development's mission had become too diluted, whereas the Department of Higher Education had been limited to promoting traditional degree programs.

"In a 21st-century economy, we know that we also have to be helping individuals run through apprenticeship programs, get a short-term credential, and so that broadening of perspective is a really, really useful tool for the state of Missouri," Mulligan told reporters.

The 38-worker Division of Energy will move to the Department of Natural Resources and the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, will move to the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, which will be renamed the Department of Commerce and Insurance. …

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