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Greitens says Missouri Partnership will be funded

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 15 with comments from Gov. Greitens — Governor Eric Greitens says the Missouri Partnership will be funded.

The business recruiting arm of the state was expected to get $2.25 million in state funding, but Missouri legislators eliminated the line item completely in the budget for next fiscal year.

Greitens says his administration is looking for ways to get the funding back.

"We’ve actually started talking already with folks within the Department of Economic Development and across government to make sure that we have all of the funding we need to make sure that the Partnership, which is very important, is able to continue its work," Greitens said. "I can guarantee that we will.”

The Republican governor made those comments after Boeing announced its T-X training jet will be assembled in St. Louis, if the Air Force gives it the contract.

Greitens says his administration will do everything it can to help persuade the Secretary of Defense and the Trump administration that Boeing should get the bid.

Original story from May 9:

The Missouri Partnership’s role is to attract new jobs and investment into the state.

The public-private partnership, created by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt in 2007, was expected to get $2.25 million in state funding for Fiscal Year 2018.

Instead, the money for the Missouri Partnership vanished.

While $2.25 million was in the budget bill passed by the state House, the line item for “business recruitment and marketing” disappeared in the conference between the state House and Senate.

Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said no one had it in for the Missouri Partnership.

“All of us like the program, it’s just a matter of do you have enough money to go around,” Brown explained in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio.

Brown said there’s a will among lawmakers to put the money back in the supplemental budget. But that, he said, will depend on whether state revenues come in as estimated.

Officials with the Missouri Partnership said so far this fiscal year the agency has helped attract 3,500 jobs to Missouri and more than $500 million in corporate investments.

“We are also strongly encouraged by the vocal support that has sprung up across the state and in Jefferson City for the work we do every day to bring investment and jobs to Missouri,” said spokesman Mark Sutherland in an email. “This is a great state, with talented people, and it’s an honor to work to attract economic growth to Missouri.”

A spokesman for Gov. Eric Greitens did not return numerous calls and emails for comment.

The loss of funding is a concern for Chambers of Commerce around the state, according to Jim Alexander, who is the senior vice president of economic development at the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Alexander said the Missouri Partnership markets the state nationally and internationally and helps guide business projects to fruition.

“We would like the state to find a solution to this funding issue and get them back on their feet because we wouldn’t want to be in a situation where the Missouri Partnership had to not go forward with their operations,” he said.

The Missouri Partnership received about 80 percent of its funding from the state. The public-private partnership also works with the Hawthorn Foundation and the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Its 12-member staff helps vet available business sites, compiles information on communities and workforce and helps determine eligibility for business incentives.

Alexander said officials with the Missouri Partnership told him they had enough reserve funds to operate for several months after the new fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“We’re hopeful during that time there may be some movement, some ideas where we can get the Missouri Partnership fully funded and back on their feet, so they continue the important work they do for the state,” he said.

Alexander said he believed there is strong support for the agency from the governor and among state lawmakers and is confident the funding will become available.

Political reporter Jason Rosenbaum contributed to this story.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.