The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Carthage, Jasper County

June 7, 2007

Leggett & Platt cited for new IDEA Center

By Melissa Dunson

mdunson@joplinglobe.com

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A Carthage company was honored Thursday by Gov. Matt Blunt as an example of both successful legislative action in the past and the direction in which Missouri and U.S. businesses need to head in the future.

Blunt toured Leggett & Platt Inc.’s 30,000-square-foot IDEA Center — Innovation, Design, Engineering and Acceleration — that was completed in January and used the company to highlight some recent changes to the state’s economic climate.

Felix Wright, chairman of Leggett’s board and former chief executive officer, said Blunt’s efforts to reform laws covering lawsuits and workers’ compensation have improved the business climate of Missouri, motivating companies like Leggett to expand within the state.

Blunt said other legislation, such as the Quality Jobs Act expansion waiting for his signature, is bringing more jobs to Missouri. The previous Quality Jobs legislation and other economic development tools have created nearly 15,000 jobs and retained more than 2,300 jobs in Missouri, he said.

Leggett is one of the companies across the state taking advantage of the enhanced enterprise zone legislation that provides tax breaks for operations constructed in certain areas. The IDEA Center is in Carthage’s new enhanced enterprise zone.

“Missouri’s economy is growing,” Blunt said. “Last year, we had 9.2 percent general revenue growth without changing the tax code. That means more people are working and in better-paying jobs.”

Blunt also highlighted Leggett’s new innovation strategy and said innovation is the area in which the United States will remain globally competitive. The IDEA Center serves as a space where those involved in invention and experimentation can work together under one roof. The staff includes engineers and physicists, and Leggett regularly brings in groups of schoolchildren to tour the operation and see where excelling in math and science can lead.

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Carthage, Jasper County