Economic development director says future jobs will be in science, technology

Mike Downing addresses those in attendance at Wednesday's Tri-State Development Summit. (H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: May. 7, 2014 12:56 pm Updated: May. 21, 2014 1:14 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Jobs of the future will be in the science and technology fields, according to government speakers at the Tri-State Development Summit held Wednesday at Hannibal-LaGrange University.

"We need students to go into science, technology, engineering and math. Those are the growth areas," Mike Downing, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, said.

Downing said businesses looking to locate in a new location look first for the workers with the skills they need. He said taxes and costs are fifth on the seven-point list for site selection.

Downing said Hannibal has "significant advantages" with river access and major highways in the form of Interstate 72/U.S. 36 and the Avenue of the Saints. He said Hannibal also has a good quality of life that is important to young job seekers.

"Talented people want a great place to live," Downing said.

He quoted a survey of young job seekers where 75 percent of respondents said it's more important to find a "cool city to live in" than to find a "good job."

Downing described the economy in Northeast Missouri as stable. He said agriculture is the backbone of the region's economy, and other forms of business still have not fully recovered from the recession.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad also called for young people to seek the science and technology skills that will represent the "good paying jobs" that will drive the economy.

Branstad had hoped to boost technology in Iowa with a broadband system that would have boosted Internet access statewide. However, that was voted down by the Legislature this year.


Senior Writer Doug Wilson and Reporter Edward Husar will have more stories from the Tri-State Development Summit later today and Thursday. Follow @DougWilsonWhig and @EdwardHusar on Twitter for updates.