Great Northwest Day at the Capitol 2017 drew more than 300 area constituents together to showcase the region in Jefferson City on January 31 and February 1. Nineteen counties, multiple communities, and representatives from business, education, healthcare, and government came together to discuss issues that are critical to the region. This year’s priorities focused on the creation of a rural policy office, investment in infrastructure, to include broadband, transportation, water and wastewater, and investment in education, including both PreK-12 and higher education.
Beginning with a luncheon on Tuesday, Pat Curry project manager for the Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development (ExCEED) program with the University of Missouri Extension provided information on the economic conditions of northwest Missouri. Curry focused on population loss within the region, as well as the relevant changes in jobs and wages after the most recent recession ending in 2011.
After a quick group picture, roundtable presentations were held to inform participants about beneficial programs available within the region. Great Northwest Day at the Capitol’s Chairman Pat Dillon kicked off the discussion with an overview of the priority selection process, while Cheri Tune, Director of Certified Work Ready Communities and Steve Johnston, Director of the Community Alliance of St. Joseph provided information on the State’s Certified Work Ready Communities initiative. To conclude the roundtables, Mary Hinde, CEO/President of Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri and Becky Cleveland, Community/Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Brookfield, provided background information on the Northwest Missouri Regional Vitality – Communities of Excellence 2026 initiative.
The evening Mardi Gras event, designed to educate attendees about northwest Missouri, consisted of a regional expo that showcased community/county booths which emphasized the identified regional priorities and promoted local attributes. Attending the event were over 300 participants from northwest Missouri, 10 Senators and 90 Representatives from across Missouri, and more than 100 staffers and state office staff from over 25 departments.
Great Northwest Day concluded Wednesday morning with a presentation from Charlie Shields, CEO of Truman Medical Center and former state senator.
State Representative J. Eggleston stated, “Great Northwest Days has become known as the best reception in the legislative session, and this year’s gathering did not disappoint. Once again, the gang from our state’s finest corner put on an awesome evening of entertainment and education, highlighting our great communities, explaining our challenges, and showcasing our products and talents to all members of the legislature.”
Volunteers from across the region began planning for the event in August of 2016. Community and corporate sponsors provide financial support for this annual project. Sponsors for this year’s event were Northwest Missouri State University, Touchstone Energy, KCP&L, Mosaic Life Care, Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP, Cameron Regional Medical Center, Olsson and Associates, Snyder & Associates, Missouri American Water, Missouri Western State University, North Central Missouri College, Allstate Consultants, Smithfield Hog Production Missouri, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Innovation Stockyard.