Need for Cameron-based expo center highlights SWOT townhall
Representatives from municipalities surrounding Cameron expressed the need for a centrally located exposition center during the recent Mo-Kan Regional Council SWOT meeting.
While discussing the economic strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the region, multiple representatives expressed the need for an exposition center, which Cameron City Manager Steve Rasmussen considered an unexpected surprise.
“There are two things that came about tonight that were really important to me that I hadn’t concentrated on before. One, there is a need for some kind of regional exposition center,” Rasmussen said. “We have four counties here and there really is no place for anybody to go for any kind of meetings or shows. The second thing was the opportunity we have for the great lakes of Cameron. As we begin to develop an independent water supply, the reservoirs we have provide a great opportunity for recreation. That is very significant and I’m going to look at that some more.”
The purpose of the SWOT meeting was to give representatives with Mo-Kan Regional Council a blue print for their 5-year strategy and finding the most impactful methods for investing to develop infrastructure and industrial growth. More than 20 representatives both public and private attended the meeting in order give their input into what areas Mo-Kan should invest its grants.
“We do both community and economic development,” Mo-Kan Regional Council Executive Director Jon Ecker said. “For one of the smaller communities, outside of St. Joe because that is our primary hub, we utilize community services for things like improvements to the water treatment facilities or replacement of a water tower or water lines – infrastructural needs or whatever enhances economic development. For business loans, we provide loans for for-profit businesses that will be stimulating job creation or retention.”
Meeting coordinators broke the meeting down into four areas. The first highlighted economic strengths included access to: two major highway corridors, parks and trails, healthcare, a strong education system and the Missouri River. Area weaknesses highlighted were: sustainable jobs, high poverty rate, poorly maintained roads, confusing zoning, railroad access and a variety of quality of life issues.
“One of the weaknesses where I’ve talked to the businesses owners is, well this is kind of hard to say, number one is the amount of people that are employable in this area,” Cameron City Councilwoman Becky Curtis said. “I know the prison has had a hard time with it. Some of the people who need quality clerks are not getting them. As for (hiring) a waitress, you’re good, but it’s hard to find employees.”
Regarding opportunities and threats, a few opportunities highlighted were: broadband internet access, commercial growth, creating better access to higher education and trade schools, developing Cameron reservoirs for tourism and creation of an expo center. Threats mentioned included crime spilling over from Kansas City, homelessness and human trafficking. Disintegration of city pride and a small-town scarcity of resources mentality some say have communities squabbling instead of cooperating for the greatest common good.
“This is the first one for this plan. This is an ongoing plan we look at every year with our committee that we developed, but we rewrite the plan completely every five years. The meeting tonight was great. The feedback we received tonight was outstanding I am flabbergasted we had the turnout we did,” Ecker said.
Cutline: A representative with the Mo-Kan Regional Council makes a list of economic strengths during the SWOT meeting last Tuesday inside Cameron City Hall.