Steve McPheeters of Noranda Aluminum, acting chairman for SMEDA, said during a news conference Friday that a combination of private sector partners and other contributors have pledged a total of at least $80,000 per year for three years.
The cash operating budget will be used to hire a regional marketing director and to fund regional marketing for 2006-2008.
The University of Missouri Delta Center in Portageville will provide office space and office support for the regional marketing director as well as meeting and training facilities and other services as in-kind contributions, according to McPheeters.
Additionally, the University of Missouri with its new Economic Development Center and Southeast Missouri State University with the new Business Innovation Center have both offered their resources to help put together a master plan for economic development and marketing of the region's assets.
The SMEDA group began meeting in late 2003 to enable Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Dunklin and Stoddard counties to compete as a region with other regions. The goal is to complement, not compete, with local efforts, McPheeters said.
If a business searching for a place to locate looks at Sikeston, for example, that city's Department of Economic Development works the lead first, he explained. If the business is unable to find what they need in Sikeston, however, instead of just letting the business go elsewhere, the lead is passed to SMEDA with the hope of keeping the business in this region.
Achieving that, the whole region benefits as the employees are likely to live and shop in neighboring communities. "What's good for one town in the region is good for all when it comes to attracting jobs and business," McPheeters said.
Members continued defining SMEDA's vision, goals and objectives through 2004 and into 2005 and in April began efforts to raise a cash budget. By September, the goal to secure funding for three years of operation had been achieved.
McPheeters said the money will "help us to at least put some feet under this organization."
SMEDA officials are now in the process of incorporating as a 501 C-6 non-
profit entity, according to SMEDA steering committee member Jim Schwaninger.
McPheeters said SMEDA is continuing to work closely with the Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission to forge a positive economic development approach for the region.
"The next step will be to complete the master plan for the next three years," McPheeters said.
A full planning session is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. till 1 p.m. Oct. 28 at the MU Delta Center. The SMEDA Steering Committee, along with representatives from the BRPC, MU and Southeast, will meet to elect executive board members.
A business advisory committee and resource committee will also be formed and their roles defined. "These committees will meet at least quarterly," McPheeters said.
Schwaninger said the Oct. 28 meeting agenda should also include drafting a set of bylaws and a job description for the regional marketing director as well as setting the budget.
Private sector partners pledging support for SMEDA's three-year plan include Associated Electric, Noranda Aluminum/St. Jude Industrial Park, AmerenUE, First State Bank and Trust, Atmos Energy, First Security Bank, Montgomery Bank, First Community Bank, First State Community Bank, Regions Bank, BankStar of the Bootheel, Allied Waste and SBC.
"By working together I think everybody rises," said Michael S. Kearney, economic development manager for Ameren. "Growth in one area benefits us all."
Kearney said in addition to being a private supporter of SMEDA, "I hope you'll also consider us a resource."
While SMEDA has only solicited private entities for monetary support, according to McPheeters, some public entities such as the cities of Sikeston, Caruthersville and New Madrid and the Pemiscot Port Authority volunteered financial support by allocating a portion of their marketing and economic development budget to SMEDA.
Public entity pledges are accepted but with a caveat, according to McPheeters: "Don't take away from what you are doing locally."
Private sector or public entity parties interested in investing in the six county region can contact McPheeters at Noranda Aluminum by calling 573-643
-2361; or Gordon Waller at First State Bank and Trust in Sikeston by calling 573-472-2424 or in Caruthersville at 573-333-1700.