The Place to Be

City of Moberly, MO
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Moberly has a lot to offer for both businesses and residents alike. Located in north-central Missouri, Moberly is driving growth in the region and boasts a good quality of life, a strong and available workforce, unlimited opportunities and room to grow.
Moberly has interstate and highway access, rail network connectivity and proximity to ports. Paired with its solid infrastructure and a business-friendly environment Moberly is development-ready.

The state itself has a competitive tax environment with the fifth-lowest corporate tax rate and the fifth-lowest energy costs in the country. Missouri is also home to a highly skilled, educated, available and affordable workforce that can power any industry or sector to success. Business is aided by these and the area’s many other strengths.

Missouri has been recognized as one of the top regions in the U.S. for business and ranked as the best state for manufacturing in Ball State University’s 2009 Manufacturing & Logistics Report Card. Missouri is listed as the seventh-best state for economic competitiveness by American Legislative Exchange Council. It has also received nods for its regulatory environment, low energy costs and a centralized location which benefits distribution.

At the forefront of economic development and marketing the many assets of Moberly and the region in general is the Moberly Area Economic Development Corporation (MAEDC). MAEDC represents Randolph, Monroe and Howard Counties.

Moberly’s economic advantages come from its location as well as the pro-business climate. The city is only a day’s drive away from most of the large markets in the United States while markets in Canada and Mexico are within reach. Being a transportation hub makes it a destination for both retail and recreation.

“From the inception of our town in 1866, it’s really been about transportation and location. Moberly has multiple train lines that come through. We have a rail yard that was located here back in the 1800s and really started our economic development off,” Brian Crane, Moberly’s city manager explained.

“Fast-forward fifty to one hundred years, and then you see where truck transportation – being in between Highway 36 and I-70, with four-lane highway access – I think has continued the development of our economic programs here in the community, and I think that has been the reason why businesses have always been interested in Moberly.”

Moberly is good for business, Crane said. “Moberly has one of the best airports for a town our size. We have a 5000 foot runway, with really nice hangars, office space and a lounge area. There are quite a few hangars. In fact, we continue to build hangars, and still have a waiting list.”

Because of this demand, the airport and its expansion remain subjects of focus, Crane said. “We continue to expand and have people take advantage of it. We continue to see investment in our utilities. We are very fortunate to have a lot of water resources around us, which community members can use for business, recreation activities and consumption.”

One of MAEDC’s major efforts to stimulate development is in collaboration with Grow Mid-MO. Grow Mid-Missouri – known as Grow Mid-MO for short – was founded just over three years ago to encourage entrepreneurship northeast Missouri. Since people can have brilliant business ideas but often don’t know where to start, Grow Mid-MO serves as a resource.

“Most of that program is helping people with business plans and financial projections and the things that we know they are going to need when we go to the bank to get financing. A lot of that is coaching and mentoring. We actually have a group of existing business folks and retired business folks that help us coach and mentor them through the process,” Corey Mehaffy, president of MAEDC.

The Grow Mid-MO program has an investor network behind it that is willing to inject private capital, offering gap financing. There have been just under thirty of these projects since the program’s beginning and the participating entrepreneurs have a high rate of success.

The city is home to several business clusters including warehousing and distribution, manufacturing, administrative offices, education, retail, healthcare and agri-business. Large employers include American Discovery Textile in Howard County, Brasch Manufacturing in Monroe County and Cardinal Healthcare Corporation in Randolph County.

“On the industry side, we have a pretty large manufacturing sector,” Mehaffy said. “Most of our manufacturing traditionally have been Tier 1 and Tier 2 level suppliers for the ‘big three’ in automotive. Many of them, over the last number of years, after what took place in 2008 to 2009, have shifted in some other markets which has helped diversify their opportunities.”

Moberly has a highly skilled, educated and available workforce. Moberly Area Community College, Moberly Area Technical Center, Central Christian College of the Bible and excellent K-12 institutions are willing and active partners on several workforce development initiatives.

In addition to being part of the Certified Sites Program in the state of Missouri, which eliminates site-related risks for local and prospective companies, MAEDC’s many incentives and programs support investment and growth.

Moberly is a certified National Work Ready Community, and ability to prove work-readiness makes it attractive to prospective business. This standardized designation helps businesses to eliminate risk by quantifying skill sets and other tangible features of a proven workforce.

Partnerships are another important part of Moberly and MAEDC’s operations. “It’s refreshing to see the amount of support and common good that goes on for projects and people willing to work on projects,” said Crane. “This community has been willing to put just about anything on the table to discuss it and come together to try to figure out a way to make it happen.”

This sentiment was echoed by Mehaffy. “That’s one of the reasons why we see some of the successes that we do. As opposed to taking limited resources and competing with counties around us, which, frankly, most of the people in those counties work here, shop here and vice versa, our economies are tied together whether we like it or not.”

Moberly is renowned for its very engaged and proactive population who demonstrate a willingness to work together. Collaboration is built into the MAEDC’s purpose given its regional, multi-county responsibilities.

“One of the things about Moberly that you will find is that the city keeps making investments, but the people of Moberly don’t sit back and wait for the government to bring them something. So, if they decide they want to do a YMCA, then they donate the money. We built a $6.5 million YMCA a few years ago,” stated Mehaffy. The region has seen many examples of this kind of initiative.

The Moberly Area Industrial Park is a state-certified site with room to grow. The park is certified by AT&T for its fibre optic services. Available land, infrastructure and a commitment to economic diversity as demonstrated in the Moberly Area Industrial Park has certainly served MAEDC’s efforts well.

Mehaffy also highlighted the strong parks and recreation program in Moberly. With over 1100 acres of developed parkland around the community, Moberly is a family-friendly community that provides a wonderful quality of life.

Moberly is near Kansas, St. Louis and Columbia and the many amenities in each of those locations. It is only a short drive from international airports. Though Moberly has access to these centers, it has not become a bedroom community. In fact, its daytime population increases by twenty-seven percent, while only 3,600 people leave each day.

Community leadership is working hard to develop the necessary amenities and spaces to keep people coming back. Efforts are helping to attract residents, businesses and visitors to Moberly.

“There is never a guarantee that will earn anything on every dollar you spend, so if you are going to have a part-time economic development effort, my suggestion to you would be to save your money. It’s a full-time business, and it’s a significant investment, and that’s the way Moberly looks at economic development. It’s a long-term investment, long-term process and our partner counties see it that way,” Mehaffy advised.

From the community’s extensive trail system and Howard Hills Complex to its downtown revitalization efforts and fuel investment, Moberly and its leaders are taking full advantage of the community’s natural resources to create services and amenities which are impressive for a its population size.

Its golf course, pool, YMCA and its terrain make it perfect for hunting, fishing, boating and other activities and sporting events. Teams find competition in Moberly and many people find adventure. It also has restaurants, diverse and affordable housing stock, a first-rate school system, historic sites; all the things that contribute to an enjoyable lifestyle.

Opportunities and potential are boundless, and the MAEDC will continue to work towards economic prosperity and community improvement for both its residents and businesses. Moberly looks to be the place to be, promising a bright future for all.



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