As Missourians turned their attention to the end of the 2019 session of the Missouri General Assembly, what could turn out to be a very important economic development bill was shuffled into a long list of truly agreed and finally passed bills as 6 o’clock struck on May 17.
Prior to the ceremonial throwing of the papers at the Capitol, Missouri lawmakers passed Senate Bill 68, a multi-pronged economic development package geared specifically at the automotive manufacturing industry, but holding potential to help employers and job seekers throughout the state.
Senate Bill 68, “is designed to fill workforce gaps in high demand industries by providing financial aid for adult learners,” its Republican supports state in a press release sent out in the week that followed the session.
The bill contains four key components.
Missouri Fast Track is devised to give adults whose income is below average an opportunity to gain skills that boost their earning potentials and prepare them for work in high-demand jobs. The program will provide short-term training in fields like manufacturing, nursing, welding, and information technology.
“Fast Track gives Missourians the necessary tools and training for employment opportunities at small businesses and companies across the state and ensures our employers are able to find qualified workers to meet their workforce needs,” Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, the bill sponsor said.
The bill would modify an existing state program, the Missouri Works Program, which helps businesses access capital through withholdings or tax credits to embark on facility expansions and create jobs.
Another program Senate Bill 68 impacts is Missouri One Start, which is meant to help businesses recruit and train large numbers of employees at one time, usually due to sudden business expansions. The legislation is written with the intent of making One Start easier for business owners and operators to use.
The sections of Senate Bill 68 offering stimulus to Missouri One Start and Missouri Works contain clawback clauses, which means any taxpayer funds overpaid to businesses can be recouped through legal channels.
Fourth, Senate Bill 68 offers tax credits to auto manufacturers that invest at least $500 million in plant upgrades with the stipulation that they agree to retain employment numbers. This provision is largely an incentive for General Motors to spend $750 million expanding its plant in Wentzville. The plant is located about 40 miles west of St. Louis, and is where vehicles such as the Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon pickup truck, Chevy Express van and GMC Savana van are produced.
Outside of the auto industry, we’re hopeful for people who may have previously felt discouraged or that they were underachieving in our current economic climate. We hope employers will use the incentives thoughtfully and responsibly to put Christian County residents to work and offer them opportunities for growth.