Lake of the Ozarks region discusses economic development since 2008 recession

LAURIE, Mo. -- It's been a decade since the Great Recession of 2008, and some rural areas of our state are still feeling the effects. That was the topic of an economic development discussion with representatives from local governments at the Lake of the Ozarks on Tuesday.

Michele Kroll, a Community Development Specialists with the University of Missouri Extension in Camden County shared a presentation on rural development looking forward in the Lake of the Ozarks region, which includes Camden, Miller, Morgan, and Laclede Counties.

One of the biggest issues in the area is job growth, as job growth peaked in 2007 for the Lake region.

"We have a lot of seasonal type jobs, part-time jobs, but jobs that don't pay a living wage, or they pay enough but people have to work two or three jobs and might not have benefits," Kroll said. "So, we need to attract a workforce that is skilled, but also provide those jobs to them that they can actually have when they come."

While the area hasn't regained all the jobs lost in the recession, and nearly 38% of the region has households with less than $25,000 in wealth, it's not all bad news for the Lake area, even though it's been a slow recovery.

"I guess we have an atmosphere for entrepreneurship and a community that really gets in and volunteers and cares about our youth, our seniors, family, and so it doesn't matter if people have never lived here, or moved here to retire, they all just jump in and pitch in and try to figure things out to make the community the best it can be," Kroll said.

Kroll added she believes the Lake of the Ozarks region is "definitely" on the right track, and they are working on a lot of economic development initiatives to improve life quality at the lake.