The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 28, 2012

Other Views: Missouri needs teammates

St. Joseph News-Press

— News of the impending closure of the Energizer battery plant in Maryville is not what we want to hear.

We want to receive word of manufacturing jobs returning from overseas. Of local factories opening instead of shuttering. We want to know the Midwest is the next hotbed of economic activity. That rural communities can stand alone and thrive.

As good as these Pollyanna words sound, they’re not true.

In St. Joseph — and in the far-flung region that includes Maryville, Chillicothe, Rock Port and Albany in Missouri and Atchison, Troy and Hiawatha in Kansas — we have a responsibility to tell the truth for the future of our communities.

The reality is a global economy has touched our lives and changed our job prospects forever. But it’s also true we do not have to be left behind and we can shape our future.

It starts by recognizing our bigger neighbors — Kansas City, Omaha, Topeka — are not our competition but our teammates.

Mitchell Silver, president of the American Planning Association, recently spoke in Kansas City. He identified 11 “mega regions” that will have concentrated job growth by 2050. The closest are in Chicago, Denver and Dallas.

Silver says our strength will lie in our unity. His assessment: “You must compete as a region, not Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas.”

To this end, top officials of Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines and St. Louis have been meeting for a year around four areas of high leverage for the region: transportation, water, life sciences and entrepreneurship.

Lest we feel left out, we benefit from similar cooperation in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor. New construction, job growth, expansions in research and manufacturing — all have come from this alliance.

When we look at our region as a whole — as broad as the Four-State region or even more — we see the scope of the challenge before us: to create a vibrant economy that can compete in a rapidly shifting market. We also see the depth of our resources and the strength of our people.

And we know the truth. Working together is not only our best alternative. It’s our only option.

St. Joseph News-Press