Missouri is “The State of Champions,” and one of those champions just happens to work at Missouri Partnership. Our very own Vice President of Business Development, Dennis Pruitt, was recently named Economic Developer of the Year by the Missouri Economic Development Council.
We sat down with Dennis to get his take on the award and some insights on what it’s like to work in economic development in Missouri.
Q: First off, congratulations on being named Economic Developer of the Year! How does it feel to be nominated and win such an award?
A: Thanks! It was a total surprise. My first thought was that Lori Becklenberg, of AllianceSTL, who was conferring the award, was reading the wrong speech. When I realized the award was actually intended for me, I was very touched. One thing I love about my job is the opportunity to work with so many good friends and talented professionals throughout Missouri, and it’s especially rewarding to be honored by one’s peers.
Q: What first attracted you to working in the field of economic development, and how long have you been working here in Missouri?
A: I’ll start with the easy question first: I’ve been working in Missouri since 2008, all this time for Missouri Partnership. I started my career in urban planning and I have always been attracted to community development. Transitioning to economic development allowed me to focus on solving problems, creating opportunities, and helping communities.
Q: What is your favorite thing about working in economic development?
A: Economic development welcomes all types of educational and professional backgrounds and only asks one thing: that we work together as a team to facilitate economic growth. My education is liberal arts, French and History, and I have a strong interest in international affairs. I’m blessed in being able to incorporate my personal interests with my professional life. There’s so much to learn in this field – I’ve worked with companies involved in solar power, steel, automotive production, soybean processing, pharmaceuticals, plastics, aerospace, and logistics, just to provide a broad sample. And I get to work with quality individuals across the globe, both business executives and government leaders. To summarize, I love the breadth of topics, the talented people, and the important mission of economic development: working together globally to create employment opportunities locally.
Q: Lastly, why should a company planning a U.S. expansion look at Missouri?
A: There are a lot of great states in the U.S. for business expansion. What makes Missouri attractive is its integral role in the dynamic Midwest (4th largest economy in the world); strengths in manufacturing, food, and agtech; transportation resources in railroad and barge; supportive state and local governments; engaged universities; and a workforce that wants to learn and contribute.