Louisiana economic development group hires first director

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 1, 2018 9:00 am

LOUISIANA, Mo. -- Maggie Neff has been hired as the first director of the Unified Economic Development Council of Louisiana.

The UEDC was formed last year as an alliance between the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce, Louisiana Visitors and Convention Bureau, Louisiana Community Betterment and the Louisiana Municipal Corp.

As the council's director, Neff will try to improve Louisiana's economy. She will work out of an office in Louisiana City Hall.

Louisiana Mayor Bart Niedner, who is UEDC chairman, said in a press release that Neff's duties will include focusing on business retention and expansion; promoting entrepreneurship and new-business creation; supervising the day-to-day operations of the Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors and Convention Bureau; overseeing workforce development; building a strong relationship with the Pike County Development Authority and other state and regional partners for new business attraction; managing the council's social media presence; and serving as the council's spokesman.

Niedner said Neff brings strong skills to the director's position.

"Maggie has significant state legislative experience and is a lawyer capable of understanding and parsing the various funding and state efforts with which we need to engage," he said.

"She is professional and intelligent. She has strong ties to the community, including a successful downtown business. She was an ideal candidate for this position, and we are fortunate to have her on board."

Neff is a co-owner of the Fat Boy's restaurant in downtown Louisiana. She hopes her experience with that venture will help in her efforts to foster economic development.

"I am strongly committed to the city of Louisiana and the surrounding community," she said.

"As a small-business owner, I am familiar with the struggles. I believe my experiences will benefit our business retention and expansion and ensure successful Chamber of Commerce and LVCB operations, fundraising and workforce development efforts."

Neff grew up in Louisiana. She received a bachelor's degree in political science from Westminster College in 2007 and earned a law degree from the University of Missouri in 2012. She serves on the Louisiana R-2 School Board and has been active with the University of Missouri's Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Women's Law Association.

Neff also has experience as a legislative analyst with the Missouri House of Representatives from 2013 to 2016 -- a role that gave her insight into the operations of state government.

Neff will work under the supervision of the council's five-member governing board.