Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that he will name Jason Hall, executive director of the Missouri Technology Corporation, to serve as director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. In that position, Mr. Hall will oversee continued implementation of the Missouri Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth, the five-year blueprint developed by Gov. Nixon's administration and business leaders across Missouri over the past 18 months.
In 2009, Gov. Nixon appointed Mr. Hall executive director of the Missouri Technology Corporation. During his tenure at MTC, Mr. Hall has overseen a transformation and rejuvenation of the organization and its mission of supporting the growth of high-tech scientific and technology companies in the state. Mr. Hall was instrumental in the development of Missouri's competitive application for the State Small Business Credit Initiative, a program that is investing $27 million in high-tech, small-business growth and job creation in Missouri. The two programs developed under Missouri's SSBCI application, the IDEA and Grow Missouri loan programs, have been recognized nationally as models other states should follow.
Under Mr. Hall's leadership, the MTC has invested in strategic development projects designed to create jobs and foster a positive return on investment for the state. The MTC also has supported a number of key initiatives to develop entrepreneurial talent in Missouri and to help entrepreneurs transform bright ideas into successful and growing entrepreneurial companies, including firms like Pulse Therapeutics, Leinco Technologies, Newsy.com, Soy Labs, and SCD Probiotics. The MTC also played a key role in attracting a major investment from DuPont/Pioneer for a biotech facility in the Bootheel.
In his role at the MTC, Mr. Hall also has been a key leader for the administration on the critical Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, or MOSIRA, which was passed by the General Assembly during the special session earlier this year as a tool to help create jobs and attract investment in high-tech, high-growth industries.
"Jason Hall is exactly the type of bright, energetic leader we need to help create jobs and move Missouri's economy forward," Gov. Nixon said. "Under Jason's leadership, the Missouri Technology Corporation has developed into a strong force for innovation and job-creation in our state. Our successful IDEA and Grow Missouri loan programs have been recognized nationally and are models for other states to follow, and the legislature and Missourians also have embraced Jason's leadership at MTC, as shown by the strong support for our innovative MOSIRA legislation. With his strong background at the MTC and his stellar academic record, I know Jason will bring energy, dedication and professionalism to his new position as director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. I applaud David Kerr for his strong leadership of the Department of Economic Development over the past two years, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with Jason to implement our Missouri Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth, create more jobs in high-growth industries, and keep Missouri's economy moving forward."
Mr. Hall will assume leadership of a department that is working aggressively to move Missouri's economy forward. Missouri's unemployment rate in November was 8.2 percent - its lowest level in 34 months and nearly half-a-point below the national average. The state has added 10,900 manufacturing jobs so far in 2011, and Missouri's exports to other countries have increased by $1.2 billion this year, on top of a 35 percent increase in 2010. Ford and General Motors both announced significant investments in Missouri in late 2010, bringing a total of more than 3,200 new jobs to Missouri for production of two new vehicles - the Ford Transit van and the completely redesigned Chevrolet Colorado pickup - and for additional shifts on the companies' existing products.
Missouri also has been recognized nationally as a top state for business growth and development and fiscal management. In a study released earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognized Missouri as a Top-10 State for Business, highlighting the state's low taxes and attractive business climate. The American Legislative Exchange Council also pointed to Missouri as a Top-10 State for Economic Competitiveness, and Missouri ranked No. 8 in the Pollina Corporate Top-10 Pro-Business States for 2011. Missouri is one of only eight states to hold a Triple-A credit rating from all three ratings firms.
"Under Gov. Nixon's leadership, Missouri is turning the corner after a tough national downturn, and our economy is beginning to move in the right direction," Mr. Hall said. "I look forward to working closely with the Governor to continue to focus on building strength in Missouri's modern manufacturing sector, expanding our exports, educating a workforce for the careers of tomorrow, and growing more high-tech science and innovation companies in our state. Together, we'll continue to make sure Missouri businesses have the skilled workforce and the right tools they need to keep our economy moving forward."
The first member of his family to earn a college degree, Mr. Hall earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 1997 from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where he earned Phi Beta Kappa honors. He earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2002, where he was editor in chief of the Vanderbilt Law Review. After earning his law degree, Mr. Hall served a one-year appointment as a law clerk for the Hon. Gerald Bard Tjoflat of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Jacksonville, Fla., and then worked as an attorney in private practice.
"Jason has been a true partner with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry in helping create jobs and move our economy forward," said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Jason has helped attract investments in high-tech and emerging fields to our state, and he works tirelessly to position Missouri as a leader in the high-growth fields of tomorrow. As vice-chair of the MTC board, I have been consistently impressed by Jason's valuable leadership for that organization, and I know he will be an outstanding director for the Missouri Department of Economic Development."
"We've worked closely with Jason for years at the Danforth Center, and we know him as a strong ambassador for Missouri's thriving plant and life sciences industries," said Sam Fiorello, COO and Senior Vice President of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and President of BRDG Park on the Danforth Center campus. "Jason has relentlessly pursued opportunities to create high-tech jobs in Missouri and help grow emerging scientific fields. Jason will be a true champion for science, technology and innovation in his new role as director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development."
"Jason Hall has a deep understanding of Missouri's incredible research strengths and potential for maximizing the job creation potential of the biosciences, as well as the state's other targeted industry sectors," said Kelly Gillespie, executive director of the Missouri Biotechnology Association. "Jason's aggressive work with the MTC Board over the past three years has elevated the professionalism and careful due diligence by the MTC into a meaningful organization that has outstanding potential to deliver sustainable real results for Missouri citizens. He'll bring that proven track record of success and accomplishment with him to his new role as director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. No one will outwork Jason in finding a pathway to advance Missouri by embracing the needs of the existing employer community, while pursuing those unique opportunities that will round out Missouri's clustered strengths. Governor Nixon has made an outstanding appointment for Missouri."
"We're fortunate to have strong partners in Gov. Jay Nixon and Jason Hall who are committed to creating jobs and expanding our economy, especially in growing fields like modern manufacturing and animal and life sciences," said Jim Heeter, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. "Over the past year, we've seen a rebirth of the auto industry in Kansas City, exciting advancements in modern manufacturing, the passage of the critical MOSIRA bill, and continued growth in emerging animal and life science fields. Gov. Nixon's administration has been a solid partner in that growth, and we applaud the Governor on this excellent appointment."
"The KCADC has worked closely with Jason Hall over the past three years to attract and develop high-growth, high-tech businesses in the Kansas City region, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with this dynamic leader in his new position," said Bob Marcusse, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council. "This appointment underscores Gov. Nixon's commitment to embracing science and technology to create the jobs of the future in Kansas City, along with continuing to develop manufacturing, finance and other critical industries, and we look forward to continuing a strong relationship with Jason Hall in this new position."
"As MTC director, Jason Hall has keenly understood that science, technology and innovation are alive and well in southwest Missouri," said Jim Anderson, president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. "Jason has worked aggressively to recruit and grow emerging businesses across our region, and I know he'll continue that relentless work as director of the Department of Economic Development. Gov. Nixon and Jason Hall are absolutely committed to creating jobs and growing the economy in every corner of Missouri, and we will continue to work closely with them to do just that."