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Economic development conference begins today in STL

By Maria Hickey, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The Governor's annual Conference on Economic Development begins in St. Louis today (Monday). The three-day conference brings together business leaders, developers, and city planners.

Seminars will explore subjects like preparing students for the global market and the status of auto manufacturing in Missouri, according to Greg Ochoa, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

"It's an opportunity for community leaders and city planners and those that specialize in economic development to get together and talk about issues that affect economic development across Missouri," Ochoa added.

Gov. Matt Blunt will hold a luncheon Tuesday at the conference, where he'll announce the communities chosen for a new downtown revitalization initiative. This is the first year for the governor's DREAM initiative (Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri).

Six to 10 communities will get the special designation out of nearly 100 applicants.

In a move that won't cost the state too much, Ochoa says the designation is more about offering training and technical assistance on everything from historic preservation to job creation.

"The ultimate hope is that they're able to revitalize their homes, their communities and stimulate job growth and a stronger economy for the state,"

More than 500 people attended last year's conference. It takes place at the Renaissance Grand and runs through Wednesday.

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