"I'm very excited about being here," Dust said during his first day on the job Wednesday. City Manager Doug Friend announced Dust's appointment to the position May 25.
Dust described his first day as busy. "I expect every day to be busy," he said.
As the DED director, Dust is the city's point man for bringing economic growth, but he said he knows real economic change won't happen except through a team effort. "The community comes together and works to be successful," he said.
Sikeston is "ripe for development," he said. "My predecessors have done a great job of setting the stage for a great possibility of growth in Sikeston. We can accomplish some good things for Sikeston."
Many of the advantages Sikeston has are obvious enough such as direct interstate highway access, an industrial park, a city-owned utility company, direct railroad access and an airport.
As other advantages might not be so readily apparent. Dust plans to spend this month visiting with service clubs in the city to get an idea of what else Sikeston has to offer and potential challenges. "It takes everybody in the community working together to make economic development work," he said.
Dust said it is also important to not forget the people and businesses that are already here and plans to visit with local industrial leaders, as well. "We take care of them first and foremost," Dust said, adding that preserving and maintaining existing jobs in Sikeston will be a priority.
One key element for economic development is reaching the 20,000 population mark as this is often the "magic number" commercial developers are looking for in market research, he said.
It will probably take new construction in undeveloped areas to grow the population, according to Dust, as there are no feasible annexation possibilities presently.
Having most recently worked 20 years for the Poplar Bluff Chamber of Commerce, Dust said many of the economic development contacts made while at his previous position will prove useful here. "And I plan on using those to the fullest," he said.
Born in Pocahontas, Ark., Dust got his start in the industrial and economic development business 31 years ago at the Walnut Ridge, Ark., Chamber of Commerce. He next spent six years doing economic development for the Paragould, Ark., Chamber of Commerce; and four years at the Chamber of Commerce in West Memphis, Ark.
"I enjoy this job," Dust said. Economic development is something Dust feels he can make a difference doing, he explained.
As for his decision to come here, the timing was just perfect. "Sikeston became available at the time I was looking for a job," he said.
Dust and his wife, Janis, have two children, ages 26 and 29, two grandchildren and one more grandchild on the way. The couple plans to move to Sikeston as soon as they are able to.