Summit in Stone County seeks to boost economic development

Stone County, Mo. -- Citizens, business owners, and community leaders came together for the Stone County Economic Development Summit in Reeds Spring on Thursday.

"A lot of information to process, statistics about our area, things we need to look at moving forward in order to spur along economic development in Stone County," Rep. Brad Hudson​ said.

In the last five years, Stone County has seen about a 20 percent increase in job growth.

"It's wrapped around the arts and entertainment industry sector when you talk about that, which is really tied into this being a recreational, tourism area," O'Brian and Associates President Rob O'Brian said.

While the tourism industry is a huge asset, tourism jobs sometimes aren't the most high-paying.

"Don't want to have all of your eggs in one basket and it's been a great boom for the area, but how do you diversify the county," O'Brian said.

That's why the President of the Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce says it's time to look at ways to not only grow the tourism industry, but also explore options for other industries like manufacturing.

"Find out if there is a way we can expand any of those sectors," Thomas said. "We think, 'Oh, we have plenty of land.' But, it might not be land that is readily available because it doesn't have infrastructure. So, we really need to get a grasp on what we have here, so we can move forward after that."

They say recognizing these needs will help build a better county now and in the future.

"This is for all of us. This is about opportunities for my children and as time goes on, their children. So, it's very important," Rep. Hudson​ said.

Thomas says the next step is to figure ways to fund at deeper five study. That way, they can figure out what the next steps are to growing economic development in the county.