The biggest obstacle in bringing jobs to Kirksville

Carolyn Chrisman, Director of Economic Development for K-REDI

Carolyn Chrisman has been the Director of Economic Development for Kirksville Regional Economic Development, Inc. (K-REDI) for the past eight months.

She began the job without any experience in economic development, but she did possess a strong desire to bring jobs to Kirksville, as it is her hometown.

Chrisman said so far, she is enjoying the job and learning everyday.

She recently finished her first project, which involved assisting Hartzell Hardwoods purchase Reliant Hardwoods, a lumber company based in Kirksville, Mo.

In order to get more acquainted with the job, Chrisman said she took a weeklong course on economic development in Kansas City back in April and has found it to be very beneficial.

"They cover everything from incentives, to real estate, to state programs, how to work with existing businesses, see what they're doing, if they're ready to expand, and what you can do locally to help with workforce, it covers everything," said Chrisman. "It gives you a kind of snapshot picture."

When it comes to attracting businesses to Kirksville, Chrisman said the biggest obstacle is the fact that Kirksville does not have a large building available for a company to move into.

"There's some things we just can't compete with to start off, but the ones we can compete with, a lot of times, what knocks us off is we don't have a building," said Chrisman. "So, one of the things we'll have to look at as a board and as K-REDI is do we look at adding land for our industrial park, and then do we look at adding a potential building...building a spec building to get more looks at our community."

Chrisman expects the board to weigh its options regarding the issue within the next year.

When it comes to the job overall, she said what she has found most surprising is her interactions with the public. She said people will come up to her at any given moment with ideas or concerns. She said that is something she is getting used to. Also, she didn't realize beforehand how long it takes for a project to be completed.

Chrisman said the areas she would like to improve on are learning all of the incentives the state offers to businesses and workforce development.

Although she could not disclose many details, she did mention that she is busy working on another project that could bring 20 to 40 jobs to Kirksville.