Archive for Media – Page 2

Global trade growing at home

global trade connections cargo container ship

The Neosho Industrial Park is now an official magnet site of the Southwest Missouri Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). The designation allows any approved company residing in the industrial park to become part of the FTZ. Together with new national rankings placing Joplin among the top 15 cities to watch for global trade, international business is on the rise for the region. Read More→

Scholastic makes long-term commitment in Neosho

Scholastic and the Neosho Area Business and Industrial Foundation, Inc. (GROW NEOSHO) announced Friday that Scholastic, Inc. extended the lease of their Neosho facility through July of 2022 according to a press release from GROW NEOSHO summarized by the Joplin Regional Business Journal. Scholastic’s Neosho facility employs more than 500 people during peak season and has used the facility on Howard Bush Drive since 2008.

“Neosho has been a good fit for Scholastic”, said Steve Marble, Vice-President for Customer Service. “Our partnership with GROW NEOSHO and use of their “Spec” building has provided Scholastic with a quality facility and access to a productive workforce.”

“In addition to being a major employer, Scholastic has been a strong supporter of Neosho and Newton County schools”, said Michael Franks, CEO of GROW NEOSHO. “They have continued to supply valuable educational materials to local schools as a part of their overall corporate commitment to education.”

“GROW NEOSHO believes that our “Spec” building has proven to be a valuable job producing asset for both Neosho and Scholastic”, Franks continued . “We are very appreciative of Scholastic’s commitment to Neosho and Newton County.”

Businesses commonly cite the same main reasons for relocating. The ability to secure a skilled workforce, upgrade facilities and/or equipment, lower costs and increase the quality of life more often than not are a company’s deciding factors. At the heart of Newton County, Neosho is also contained within the nation’s first-ever metro area to be certified by ACT as a Work Ready Community.

Joplin Metro among nation’s best for logistics and quality of life

Business Facilities magazine published their 12th Annual Rankings Report in their August edition. The Joplin metro area landed in the top ten ranking for two different categories: 7th for Logistics (industry sector) Leaders and 8th for Quality of Life. Joplin ranks alongside very worthy competitors.

  • Quality of Life Rankings
    1. Oklahoma City, OK
    2. Nashville, TN
    3. Minneapolis, MN
    4. Baton Rouge, LA
    5. Indianapolis, IA
    6. Greenville, SC
    7. Lexington, KY
    8. Joplin, MO
    9. Albuquerque, NM
    10. Witchita, KS
  • Logistics Leaders Rankings
    1. Memphis, TN
    2. New Orleans, LA
    3. Louisville, KY
    4. Houston, TX
    5. Joliet/Elwood, IL
    6. Long Beach, CA
    7. Joplin, MO
    8. Dupage County, IL
    9. Bay County, MI
    10. Oswego County, NY

Other rankings by the magazine include categories such as lowest cost of business, economic growth potential, STEM job leaders, innovation hubs, greenest metro, entrepreneurship leaders, and fastest growing. The report also includes state and global rankings. Business Facilities is a national publication that has been the leading location source for corporate site selectors and economic development professionals for more than four decades.

First tri-state Work Ready region emerges

Tri-State Marker of Missouri, Kansas, and OklahomaContinuing the legacy of firsts for regional workforce innovation, the Joplin Tri-State Region is the first in the nation to achieve Certified Work Ready Community (CWRC) status that crosses the borders of three different states with the attainment by Ottawa County.  As investors often put their top priorities on workforce, having CWRC is a big step for the Joplin labor market that pivots outward from the Tri-State Marker (pictured right) of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Ottawa County celebrated its new status at a reception August 11th in Miami that KODE-TV profiled in its evening newscast. Planning is underway for CWRC ceremonial events in McDonald and Labette Counties that also hit the 100% goal mark.  Lawrence County leaders held their celebration June 9th in Aurora (pictured below).

lawrence county C.W.R.C. june 2016We are excited to officially become an ACT Work Ready Community,” said Shannon Walker, director of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce and head of the local CWRC initiative. “Lawrence County has much to offer businesses that are already established in our area, and now this addition strengthens the county’s workforce and economic opportunities.”

Interstate 44, which runs through Lawrence, Jasper, Newton, and Ottawa Counties, is a big advantage economically because it means easy access for businesses to be able to move products by truck from one area to another. The CWRC designation complements local efforts to further develop and grow the region’s transportation and logistics sectors.

The ceremony was held at the Aurora Community Center, with many supporters of CWRC efforts in attendance. Just a few supporting employers include AFB International, Service Vending Company, T&C Stainless, BCP Ingredients, Inc., Kemin Nutrisurance, Teletech, Jack Henry & Associates and more.  Watch the full Lawrence County CWRC ceremony online at

As illustrated in the map (below) of counties served by the WIB and the Joplin Regional Partnership, Dade is the only remaining county to achieve CWRC.  The latest results show Dade at 78% of the CWRC goal.  WIB officials anticipate Dade County’s completion by the end of 2016.

C.W.R.C. map of counties

Magazine Showcases Missouri’s CWRC Success

C.W.R.C. Map & LogoJasper County, Missouri, was the first Work Ready Community in the nation, obtaining its work ready status in 2013, and the Joplin metropolitan statistical area was the second MSA in the US to be certified. As noted recently by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, this is all thanks to the leaders of the Workforce Investment Board, and the chambers in Webb City, Carthage, Neosho and Joplin, their members and area schools supporting this endeavor.

But what is a Work Ready Community? The purpose is to align workforce training programs with the economic development needs of communities, matching the appropriate applicants to jobs based on skill level and giving businesses a more quantifiable workforce assessment tool with which to evaluate local labor pools. That means employees and employers win when the properly trained people fill job vacancies.

Site Selection Magazine published an article profiling Missouri’s success with Certified Work Ready Communities. Commending the Show-Me State as one of the most active in the nation, the article included a testimonial from Kingsford Manufacturing.

“To stay competitive today and in the future requires talented and engaged employees who think like business owners and drive continuous improvement,” said Steve Miller, plant manager of Kingsford Manufacturing, on March 18th, when Maries County, south of Jefferson City, in south central Missouri, was certified. “Through the Missouri Career Center and the Work Keys testing program [for earning National Career Readiness Certificates], we’ve been able to find people with the right skills who can help us continue to be a successful operation, great place to work and a strong community partner.”

The article appears in the July 2016 edition of Site Selection Magazine and may be found online at According to the most recent trends by ACT, more than three thousand Missouri employers endorse the National Career Readiness Certificate, a hallmark of CWRC.

Downtown Cassville to spur jobs and investment

All elements of economic development must come together, including workforce, to move an economy forward. Already a Certified Work Ready Community, Cassville leaders aim to leverage the assets of downtown along with strategies for improvements and marketing.

The Cassville Main Street Association recently invited community members to a “Share the Vision” comprehensive presentation outlining five years of research collected for the purpose of revitalizing the community’s downtown. The presentation was conducted by Andrew Murray with St. Louis-based design and planning firm PGAV, along with Kim Martin from the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Some of the key strategic goals proposed by PGAV included: increasing demand and opportunity for downtown retail space, improving existing downtown businesses, addressing stormwater issues, capitalizing on visitors traveling to nearby cities, and finding a long-term funding source for revitalization. Missouri DED presented information on grant programs available through the department to create long-term funding for projects, along with specific taxes that can create revenue.

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Job Center assists those laid off from Eagle Picher

More than 80 workers laid off recently by Eagle Picher received comprehensive career services at a special event held earlier today at the Joplin Job Center. The Employment Transition Team comprised of partner agencies with the WIB and the Job Center presented a wide array of services to help the laid off workers get back on track. In addition to introducing Job Center services, such as job search assistance and preparation, the meeting connected the affected workers with Missouri’s Unemployment Insurance system to begin the claims filing process. More information on upcoming hiring events may be found on the Joplin Job Center’s Facebook page. Other services are described online at

Links to Regional Media Coverage on Eagle Picher Layoff

Bakery jobs return to Joplin

Less than a year from its closure, a former bakery manufacturing site is coming back to life with 60 new jobs. HS Baking teamed up with Joplin leaders and Gov. Nixon’s office Tuesday to announce the company’s decision to locate its snack and cracker operations in Joplin at its new flagship bakery.

HS Baking’s more than $8 million Joplin expansion project includes the purchase of new equipment and a manufacturing plant that was previously operated by General Mills. Renovations will be underway over the next few months to build and install a new manufacturing line to produce a new line of snack and cracker products. The company will immediately recruit candidates for a variety of positions, including but not limited to, purchasing manager, plant engineer, packaging operators, oven and dough machine operators, and other office and warehouse positions.

“Our whole team is excited to come to Joplin and kick the factory into high gear with the help of members of the Joplin community,” said HS Baking Plant Manager Max Jones.

“This facility has a nearly 70-year history of baking quality products, and it is wonderful to see it coming back into operation so quickly after it was shut down,” said Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert. “We appreciate HS Baking for its investment in Joplin and for its sincere recognition of the proud history of this facility and its people.”

In addition to supplying valuable labor market research to support job creation in the Joplin region, a team from the Workforce Innovation Board conducted extension outreach before and after the company announcement to help ramp up recruitment efforts. The WIB helped organize a job fair for HS Baking at the Joplin Job Center. The event runs 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, July 20th and 1o to 2 on Thursday, the 21st.

“Investments by great companies like HS Baking are the reason why Missouri leads the Midwest in manufacturing growth and our unemployment rate has been below the national average for more than two years,” Gov. Nixon said Tuesday at the press conference. “Missouri makes what the world wants, and we are proud to partner with HS Baking as they create new jobs right here in Joplin.”

This is the second major food operation expansion for Joplin in recent years, coming just two years after Heartland Pet Foods Manufacturing cut the ribbon on its flagship $90 million factory, where today it employs more than 150 full-time employees. Last year, Joplin was selected as the new home of global building manufacturer Owens Corning’s new plant, also a $90 million investment into the community and a projected 100 new jobs.

Media Coverage of HS Baking Investment in Joplin

WorkforceZone 7/16: High Octane Solutions

Workforce Zone July 2016The region’s voice for Workforce Development, WorkforceZone, released its second quarter recap issue with the theme Workforce Strategies Seek High Octane Solutions. The 17-page journal is downloadable as a printer and tablet-friendly PDF. WorkforceZone archives its articles online as well.

Workshop helps employers integrate veterans

American flag with business people shaking handsThe Joplin Job Center hosted a workshop geared to employers to empower their role in recruiting and integrating veterans into the local workforce. Held Wednesday, the program covered issues relating to veterans entering or returning to the civilian workplace. By focusing on the transition process employers will reduce the cost of turnover and lost productivity. The full video of the workshop is available below and online.

Yancy Caruthers, military author for the book Northwest of Eden, moderated the workshop. Panelists included Joshua Landers, a veteran advocate for XPO Logistics; Trish Crane, HR and safety manager for Talbot Industries; and Eddie Hukill, a retired/transitioning veteran and former Missouri National Guard recruiter. For information of services available to vets and employers of vets, contact Adrian Hopper by email to, or call 417.625.2767.