If you happened to see the front page of Saturday’s Columbia Daily Tribune, then you likely read that MFA Oil plans to move a fair amount of their operations from Columbia to Moberly, citing Columbia’s “difficult business climate” as the primary reason for the move. The article quotes MFA’s CEO, Mark Fenner, as saying it is “quite difficult to do business in Columbia and Boone County”.
And to that I say…
I don’t think Fenner’s revelation is news to anyone in this area, but I do think the gravitas of the MFA CEO saying it is something to be noted in our community. The MFA move comes on the heels of the latest CVS drama, wherein the plans for the CVS store have denied AGAIN…this time based on concerns about sewer easements and city control over the design of the building. Mind you, CVS has been trying to build a store here since 2013. (If I were the CVS CEO, I probably would have taken the plans for the new store, cut them to shreds, and mailed them individually to the city council members…he has much more patience than I do.)
In short, it seems that city council’s mission statement for attracting and maintaining employers in Boone County is “thanks, but no thanks.”
And if the general attitude is “thanks, but no thanks” to major corporations, what about the needs of small business in Boone County?
One interesting note by Fenner was his reference to his fiduciary responsibility to his farmer owners. According to Fenner, relocating to Moberly is a better financial choice based on land cost and city incentives. And when I read that, I thought “hey, what about my fiduciary responsibility to myself…and to my employees?” Does this mean that as PJP grows, the climate in Boone County will threaten the responsibility I have to grow my business and employ others? It certainly sounds like it after reading Fenner’s comments. And honestly, that worries me.
I give all the props to Fenner for expressing what most business owners in Boone County know to be true – that it is difficult to run a business here. It couldn’t have been easy to issue a statement that he likely knew would be front page news given his company’s impact in Boone County. And that he was willing to do it shows a tipping point in our commercial climate…something has to change to keep businesses in Boone County and to attract new business to our county, or we are going to have significantly more serious problems than arguing about sewer easements at the corner of Providence and Broadway.
And as PJP approaches World Pie Domination, how can the world headquarters be in Cooper, Audrain, Cole, or Callaway county? Get it together, city council.