Governor Mike Parson addressed a group of Ozarks area business leaders Friday at the Biz417 Think Summit held at the Springfield Art Museum.
The governor discussed his beginnings in Southwest Missouri, the transition to the governor’s mansion and where he sees the state going in the future during an upbeat discussion with Biz417 President & Associate Publisher Logan Aguirre.
Aguirre began the formal part of their interview by repeating to the governor a quote he gave 417 Magazine when he was elected to the Lieutenant Governor’s position concerning his future in politics: “Oh, this is a good place to finish.”
Governor Parson went on to explain that he has thought coming from Wheatland, Missouri and going all the way to becoming the Lieutenant Governor “was a good accomplishment.” However, when the call came that Eric Greitens was stepping down from his position that he “called on his Army training” where if something happened to someone you would “step up and take their place.”
The governor told the business leaders that workforce development and infrastructure were the two major items he wanted to grow and develop during his first term. He said that economic growth and low unemployment are great accomplishments for Missouri but that for growth to continue the workforce needs to be ready.
“It’s great that we have 2.9 percent unemployment,” the governor said, “but we also need to have trained, skilled workers.”
The governor said that one of the things he hopes to accomplish is getting government officials to stop looking only at what’s in front of them and look further into the future.
“STEM education is huge for tomorrow,” Governor Parson said. “We have to stop looking at education issues one year at a time. We need to look 10 to 15 years down the road.”
He also said that the private sector needs to join with the state government in workforce development to make sure workers are being trained in the ways business needs to go in the future.
The Governor also took note of the leadership in Jefferson City that comes from Southwest Missouri, specifically Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr and House Minority Leader Crystal Quade. He said the values of Southwest Missouri those leaders bring to the state government can benefit the entire state.
When asked by Aguirre what he would tell someone who might be interested running for office, the governor said that no matter where you come from or whatever office you serve in, humility is a key to being an effective leader.
“Remember that you are a public servant and remember where you have come from,” the governor stated. “If you’re not humble, you shouldn’t be in one of those [House or Senate] seats.”
When asked about running for a full term in 2020, the governor smiled and said he would be running “but I don’t know if it will be running for governor or running back to the farm in Bolivar.”
The governor wants to focus on this first term and what he hopes to accomplish while in office and then he will see how he is feeling and will discuss the matter with his family because serving in a statewide office takes a toll not only on the office holder but their family as well.