Springfield, MO

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Rob Dixon is slated to become DED acting director July 1.
Rob Dixon is slated to become DED acting director July 1.

DED goes one-on-one with new director

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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens tapped former Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Rob Dixon for a cabinet post as acting director of the state Department of Economic Development.

Dixon, who’s worked since December 2014 as CEO of the Missouri Community College Association, is slated to take the post July 1, according to a news release. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate, which would make Dixon the permanent director.

“Our top priority is more jobs and higher pay for the people of Missouri. Real change and bold leadership are needed to bring jobs back to our state,” Greitens said in the release. “Rob has proven that he knows how to get results and drive change. His experiences as a Marine, economic developer and leader of Missouri’s community colleges will help to make Missouri one of the top states for jobs.”

As director of the DED, Dixon will oversee business attraction and retention, often through incentives such as the Missouri Works program for job growth.

The department recently sat down for a one-on-one with the incoming director. Here’s a sample of the conversation:

What is it about Missouri that makes it feel like home?
It is home. I’m a native Missourian, and I have lived here my entire life, with the exception of the five years that I was in the Marines. After my service, I knew I wanted to come right back home.
What is your experience working in economic development?
My entire professional life after the military has been in either economic development or workforce development. I started my career working for the chamber of commerce in Hollister. My job was to grow the local economy just as the economy nationwide was sinking. Our main focus was to look at what barriers and challenges prevented our business community from growing and then develop solutions. What I found over and over again was that one of the most important things we could do as economic developers to help businesses was to address their workforce issues. I then started a position with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, which serves a 10-county region. There, I created the chamber’s inaugural plan to help grow the region’s existing businesses. This experience again reaffirmed my belief that workforce development was crucial to ensuring the success of our business community. That’s when I took a position with Missouri Community College Association and immediately went to work to make our programs easier for businesses to access training.

What are you most looking forward to in your new position at the DED?
Honestly, it’s being a part of a team that is working on the most important issues facing the state.

I have an eight-year-old son and I want him to have opportunities in Missouri in the future. It’s our responsibility to leave our state in better shape for the next generation. To do this, we’ll need to roll up our sleeves and work together to grow our state’s economy.

What one goal do you hope to accomplish as director?
The governor has laid out a clear vision that he wants to help Missouri’s businesses create more jobs and to help Missourians earn higher pay.

This is our mission at DED, and I am looking forward to working together with the governor, his team, the folks at DED and economic developers across the state to accomplish this.

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