As legislators begin a new session in Jefferson City, citizens representing the 19-county region of Northwest Missouri will come together in Jefferson City to educate legislators on Northwest Missouri counties and to discuss issues that are critical to the region.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson will kick off the Great Northwest Day at the Capitol event as the keynote speaker during a luncheon at the 21st Annual Great Northwest Day at the Capitol in Jefferson City, Tuesday, February 7.

The two-day event is expected to gather over 250 people from the northwest corner of the state. In addition to the luncheon, the event includes introductions on the House and Senate floors, informative roundtable sessions followed by an evening event that provides an opportunity for community representatives to promote their communities to legislators. The Great Northwest Day event will conclude with a regional breakfast on Wednesday, February 8, with the Office of Broadband Management presenting.

One of the many strengths of the Great Northwest Day steering committee is the collecting of issues and concerns that impact the entire northwest region. The top priorities for the 2023 legislative session are as follows:

• Education: The future of our region depends on a skilled and educated workforce. Educational districts and institutions contributing to the development of Missouri’s next generation of citizens, from preschool through multiple postsecondary options such as professional certificate and degree programs, cannot fulfill their mission without your support. Collectively, legislators are asked to make increasingly larger investments in education and workforce development for the purposes of stronger communities and better employment opportunities.

• Infrastructure (including broadband): Safe and reliable infrastructure is essential to the health and wealth of our region. Great Northwest Day encourages lawmakers to invest in our rural region’s roads, bridges, water and wastewater projects – vital keys to the economic future of northwest Missouri. Broadband is a critical component of infrastructure and rural community development. Sufficient internet leads to prosperity during hardships, such as the recent global pandemic, because of continued access to education, commerce, healthcare, precision agriculture, and much more

• Workforce (including childcare): One of the most challenging issues facing rural Missouri is a diminished workforce. Typically, rural labor markets have very low unemployment rates; however, they also suffer from lower than average labor force participation rates. In order for rural areas to thrive, there must be an emphasis placed on increasing labor force participation, as well as expanding the labor force (through marketing rural living). Focusing solely on labor force training does not adequately address the workforce needs of rural Missouri. Access to affordable childcare is a major workforce issue for our region and the State of Missouri. If parents do not have safe, reliable, affordable childcare, they are unable to work. Childcare is a fundamental Workforce and Economic Development issue.

• Housing: If rural areas are to retain and grow population, adequate workforce housing must be a focal point in redevelopment efforts.

The cost to attend Great Northwest Day is minimal, thanks in part to the following sponsors: Touchstone Energy, Evergy, Allstate Consultants, Cameron Regional Medical Center, Saint Luke’s Health Systems, Mosaic Life Care, Snyder & Associates, Olsson, Missouri American Water, Missouri Western State University, North Central Missouri College, and Northwest Missouri State University.

For more information on the event or to register, visit www.greatnorthwestday.com or contact Monica Bailey, Atchison County Coordinator, at 660-744-6262 or director@atchisoncounty.org.