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Area leaders on panel to help pick new state economic development director

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 18, 2009 - Three St. Louis area business leaders are part of a seven-person panel set up by Gov. Jay Nixon to help him select a new economic development director.

The three locals, as announced by the governor today: 

--Dick Fleming, president and CEO, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association;

-- Tom Irwin, executive director, Civic Progress, St. Louis;

--Kathy Osborn, executive director, Regional Business Council, St. Louis.

(Osborn is the only woman on the panel.)

Their task will be to choose a successor to Linda Martinez, a St. Louis lawyer recognized as an expert on business issues. She resigned earlier this week amid talk of strain between her and the governor, and critics' assertions that she failed to grasp the political or governmental aspects of the job.

Nixon said in a statement that the panel of advisers "will assist in recruiting a high-quality, diverse and innovative pool of applicants for Director of Economic Development from every corner of the state.  I appreciate the service of those who have agreed to give their time to this search process, and I am confident that by working together, we’ll find the right leader to help move Missouri’s economy forward.”

The announcement came before Nixon left Jefferson for St. Louis, where he is planning this afternoon to hold "another stop of his Show-Me Business Tour."

The various stops, he said, are so he can listen "directly from Missouri business leaders about opportunities for and challenges to job creation and business growth in the state."

The governor said he plans to present a new "economic development policy package focused on supporting existing Missouri businesses, and the ideas gathered on this listening tour will play an integral role in formulating that plan."

The non-St. Louisans on the panel are:

--Pete Levi, president, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce;

--Clyde McQueen, president and CEO, Full Employment Council of Kansas City;

--Jim Anderson, president, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce;

--Larry Rebman, director, Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

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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