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Cole County Commission chose not to renew contract with Jefferson City Chamber for now

The Cole County Commission has not renewed it’s economic development contract with the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce, saying the Chamber has not done enough work outside of the Jefferson City limits.

The Commission was scheduled to vote to approve the renewal Wednesday morning, but chose not to for the time being.

At the meeting, commissioners asked chamber officials why they have had such little economic success in the past few years and why they have not done more to bring business to smaller Cole County cities.

Chamber officials stated that most business looking ta coming into the area only want to be in bigger cities like Jefferson City because of the convenience the location provides.

The Commissioners were not satisfied with this answer.

“Economic development is a two-way streak. One is going out to the businesses and bringing them into our community. The other is talking to the community and saying what can we do to help bring business to your community. And that’s all of the community. Not just Jefferson City. I don’t think in the last five years that’s been carried out to the standard that the County Commission would like to see done,” said presiding commissioner Marc Ellinger.

Commissioners say they have tried to get the chamber to reach out to the smaller communities for a while now, with little success.

“I don’t think they’ve reached out to the smaller communities to spite our numerous request. We’ve sat down with them on a frequent basis and asked what they can do to help,” said Ellinger.

St. Martins was one of the towns discussed at the meeting that could benefit form increased economic development.

“I think it would bring a lot of more people to the St. Martins area. You know, buying homes, or living here if we had more businesses, restaurants, whatever,” said Mary Ann Sanders of St. Martins.

Commissioners say they plan to meet the chamber officials and renegotiate some sort of contract next Wednesday.

The contract that was not renewed would have given the chamber $150,000 of county money.

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