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Every Monday at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., Rob Gilligan provides information on what's happening in the area of regional development in Southeast Missouri. Rob is the President and CEO of the Cape Chamber. 0000017b-d583-d84a-afff-fdd77fc70000Local support for Let's Talk Business comes from First Midwest Bank -- offering banking solutions for all stages of life. Online at onemidwest.com. Member FDIC.

Let's Talk Business: Conference On Economic Development Highlights Broadband Access

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Last week’s Governor’s Conference on Economic Development provided timely information and necessary optimism.

Of course the meeting was held in a virtual format. Kudos to the Hawthorn Foundation for planning and carrying out event logistics.

We heard from the St. Louis Cardinals organization about the changes this season and the real financial challenges. But, we also learned of several downtown economic development initiatives in St. Louis around Ballpark Village.

Several sessions zeroed in on the importance of broadband. High speed internet connectivity is crucial for everyone in today’s new world. Business needs it for so many aspects of their operations and the entire education system has become dependent upon it. This makes the recent news from Big River Communication even better as they work to bring fiber to many previously underserved areas of Cape County.

There were sessions on the future of manufacturing and how robotics, advanced materials, and industry 4.0 are shaping the factories of tomorrow. We are fortunate to have Southeast Missouri State University and the School of Polytechnic Studies to keep us competitive in this arena.

And the entrepreneurial workforce was recognized for its significance to the state. In 2018, 80% of all new jobs in Missouri were a result of start-up companies. Codefi’s James Stapleton served as a panelist and emphasized the efforts that will be necessary moving forward.

We are still in a challenging environment but it was encouraging to participate in sessions that lead me to believe we are well-positioned to succeed.

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