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McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

2021 Men of the Year: Jonas Arjes

Taney County Partnership and Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & Convention and Visitors Bureau

Posted online

Jonas Arjes lives and breathes economic development.

He has served for nearly a decade as executive director of the Taney County Partnership, a public-private initiative designed to attract and retain businesses to the Branson area. Additionally, he was appointed to the Missouri Economic Development Council Board of Directors in 2013 and served as board president for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Arjes also worked for nearly three years as executive vice president and chief economic development officer for the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau. And when Jeff Seifried exited the top post at the Branson chamber, Arjes stood in as interim president and CEO for seven months until the hiring of Jason Outman.

“During this time, I oversaw the return of most of our furloughed employees, secured multiple state and federal pandemic-related grants and relief dollars, and managed the Taney County CARES Act application process,” Arjes says.

His current board positions include serving as secretary and treasurer of the Industrial Development Authority of Taney County and as a member of the Hawthorn Foundation, Missouri Partnership, Springfield Regional Economic Partnership, Southwest Missouri Council of Governments and Fall Creek Community Improvement District.

In 2012, Arjes was hired to build and lead what would become the Taney County Partnership, the economic development department of the Branson chamber. He says the group started with firm commitments from the chamber and Taney County Commission, as well as a couple of the cities and villages.

“Within a year, we had 25 public and business sector investors. Currently, we are at 40,” Arjes says.

During his time in economic development roles, the Branson area has seen billions of dollars’ worth of business investments. To date, his proudest accomplishment was establishing the Taney County enhanced enterprise zone in 2013.

“Prior to me taking it on, there had been several attempts by community stakeholder groups,” Arjes says. “I worked with the Missouri Department of Economic Development to prepare the application and in the process managed to pass 19 ordinances and resolutions throughout nine political subdivisions in less than 90 days. It was, and still is, the only countywide economic development incentive in our toolbox.”

Looking on the horizon, Arjes has three economic development wins he would like to add to his career portfolio: a large sports facility, an aerospace/defense business or advanced manufacturing business at the Branson Airport, and completion of the Taney County Expressway.

“We’ve seen, and I’ve personally experienced, the replacement of family vacation time by youth sports trips and tournaments,” he says. “We have a good base of sports infrastructure with the Branson RecPlex and Ballparks of America, but there is a ceiling for more.

“Not only is this a significant economic driver, but it also allows the Branson market to train the next generation of visitors.”

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