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Missouri's new economic development director is former St. Louis exec with AT&T

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 29, 2009 - David Kerr, the Commerce Secretary for the State of Kansas has been named by Gov. Jay Nixon as Missouri's new director of the Department of Economic Development.

Kerr, 56, will start his new job in just over a week, on Nov. 9. He replaces Linda Martinez, a St. Louis lawyer with economic expertise who resigned in September amid talk that she never meshed with Nixon or his staff.

Kerr also has a St. Louis connection. For 15 years, he worked here in management positions for SBC/AT&T, and followed the phone giant when it moved its headquarters to Dallas in 1997 to become vice president for access marketing. Kerr was president of AT&T Kansas for four years, where he directed all of the utility's public policy activities, before shifting to state government and the Commerce post.

Said Nixon in a statement: “David Kerr has an impressive resume of success as both the leader of a state economic development agency and in the private sector as a top executive with one of the largest telecommunications companies in the country. His experience will be a great asset to Missouri in the competition to attract and retain the good-paying jobs that will make the best use of our highly skilled, trained workforce.”

Kerr also got high marks from Dick Fleming, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA).

“I was pleased to serve on Gov. Nixon's search committee for a new director, and congratulate him on recruiting such an outstanding economic development leader as David Kerr to Missouri,” Fleming said in a statement. “I know that David is very pleased to be returning to Missouri and St. Louis. We look forward to working with him.”

Kerr is a native of Ness City, Kansas, and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in economics and business administration from Avila University.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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