Friday, April 10, 2015

Orgill Expansion Announced

Orgill, Inc. is the world's largest and fastest growing independent distributor of retail hardware and home improvement products. In 2009 they built a 795,000 sq ft distribution center in the Sikeston Business, Education and Technology Park. Today Orgill announced a $10.3 million, 250,000 sq ft expansion of the facility. The expansion will add 70 jobs to Orgill's operations in Sikeston, and bring the facility to over 1,000,000 sq ft. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce traveled to Sikeston to announce the project. We're proud to have Orgill as one of our great corporate citizens in Sikeston!
Orgill, Inc.'s current facility in the Sikeston Business, Education and Technology Park. 

Sawing logs with butter knives

Having the right tools for the job matters. The City of Sikeston hired me and a new public works director just as the winter of 2013 began. Unfortunately, during my first week on the job we got the worst winter weather since the ice storm of 2009. More unfortunately, during that storm and some subsequent snows, we learned that our snow plowing equipment was badly in need of replacement. We had four dump trucks with plow attachments, all 18-25 years old. They spent more time in the shop than on the road during a big snow storm.

As a result, snow plowing operations did not go very well. So for the next year we budgeted for replacement of the three worst dump trucks. Our three new dump trucks arrived in the middle of the following winter. In fact, they arrived about a week after an 8" snow storm, and a week before another 8" snow storm. The difference between the old trucks and the new ones was astounding. After the first storm, it took us 5 days to plow all of the streets with the old trucks. Under virtually identical conditions, we completed the job in only 36 hours with the new trucks, simply because they are bigger and they stayed on the road instead of in the shop. As the public works director explained, with the old trucks it was like we were "sawing logs with butter knives."

Just this week we took one of new dump trucks to buy some cold mix asphalt for filling potholes. In the old trucks we could haul about 4-6 tons of asphalt. The first load in the new truck was over 14 tons, which means in one trip to the asphalt plant we can now haul as much as we used to in 2-3 trips. The investment in new trucks, though certainly expensive up front, has paid tremendous dividends. We are providing better service to our citizens, and we are doing it faster and cheaper.

New dump trucks in the Public Works yard shortly after they were delivered.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Economic Strengths of the Missouri Bootheel

I serve as a board member at the Missouri Innovation Corporation (MIC) at Southeast Missouri State University. MIC supports business and community development in the region through research, financial assistance, and other efforts to deliver University programs to the business community. MIC recently completed a Regional Entrepreneurship Assessment and Strategy for the Bootheel region of Southeast Missouri. One portion of the assessment identifies the economic strengths of the region, including Sikeston, which I thought I should share with my readers. The image below illustrates some of the employment growth factors in the region, including the concept of "clusters" of certain business sectors. This is something we have observed in Sikeston, particularly in the distribution center cluster. Our Sikeston Business, Education and Technology Park is home to several large distribution centers that take advantage of our strategic location at the crossroads of I-55, I-57, and Highway 60.        

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sikeston vs Ferguson

Like many local government officials, I have watched recent events in Ferguson and tried to learn from them. One of the criticisms leveled against the City of Ferguson is that the municipal court was used primarily as a revenue generator, rather than as a means to administer justice. The US Department of Justice found that in fiscal year 2013, Ferguson collected $2,460,000 in municipal court fines and fees. For comparison, in fiscal year 2013, Sikeston collected only $380,000 in municipal court fines and fees. Ferguson's court fines and fees accounted for approximately 23% of their city revenues. Sikeston's court fines and fees accounted for about 2.6% of our city revenues. And the bottom line is that Sikeston's municipal court in fiscal year 2015 is only projected to bring in $42,000 more than is spent on court operations - meaning that the court is in no way a cash cow for the city. I am glad that our friends in Ferguson seem to be on the road to healing, but it's also worth pointing out that the problems in Ferguson are not endemic to city municipal courts everywhere - especially not in Sikeston.