After a four year partnership, the University of Missouri backed out of an economic development agreement with the city of Boonville and Cooper County.
“It was a great run while it lasted,” said Jim Gann, who served as economic director under the partnership. “I’ve been involved in service to my community in some way or another my whole life, and I don’t think that stops now.”
Through this position, Gann worked with the Boonville Industrial Development Authority as a liaison for the University of Missouri. The MU Office of Economic Development has been restructuring since February due to budget cuts. Gann will take on a larger role with the university, leaving his current position empty and effectively terminating the partnership. MU announced this decision June 28, and the relationship officially ended July 2 with Gann’s report to the Boonville City Council.
During this partnership, Gann was able to facilitate a number of economic advances for Boonville. This relationship allowed the city to receive a $1.5 million EDA grant (matched by $1.5 million in city funds) to rehabilitate the historic Kemper Campus structure into a modern education facility. Gann also spearheaded the campaign to implement fiber-optic internet in Boonville. Currently, Socket Internet and CoMo Connect are competing to offer the service in Boonville. This partnership also created the alternative energy technician training program currently offered at the Boonslick Technical Education Center and enabled the $100,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development that made the program possible. In 2016, Gann’s work earned Cooper County the designation of a “Certified Work-Ready Community.” This designation, given by ACT, is bestowed upon counties that voluntarily meet a set of standards to link workforce development to education, align the economic development needs of communities and match individuals to jobs that fit their skills.
Mayor Ned Beach said that the city council planned to work with the Boonville Industrial Development Authority to appoint a new economic developer in Gann’s absence.
“I anticipate that we’re going to have a hard time finding a replacement,” Beach said. “Jim really went above and beyond for this community.”