Alas, Gov. Nixon gives SWMO a nod

Matt Wagner, SBJ ReporterI was starting to wonder if Gov. Jay Nixon had forgotten about southwest Missour-ah … or is it Missour-ee? Either way, the governor hasn’t tapped this part of the state for many appointments since he took office two months ago.

That changed this week.

On March 9, Nixon announced he had appointed two of Springfield’s Democratic die-hards, Joe and Marie Carmichael, to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and Missouri Development Finance Board, respectively.

Joe Carmichael is a Springfield attorney at Carmichael & Neal PC. He and wife Marie own Affordable Homes Development Inc., which is developing Silver Brooks Estates – a $5 million affordable housing project in west Springfield.

Prior to the Carmichaels’ appointments, Nixon’s cabinet picks and board appointments seemed to draw heavily on mid-Missouri and the St. Louis area. The governor did, however, name Nadia Cavner, a local investment adviser with BancorpSouth, a co-chair of his transition team.

But Cavner and the Carmichaels are party faithfuls. There’s a much larger pool of Ozarks businesspeople worth a look.

Nixon stopped for a photo op at EMSI Inc. in January to talk about his Show Me Jobs Initiative, but the group of 12 entrepreneurs and innovators he met with on his first day in office was devoid of local representation. That’s too bad.

Southwest Missouri has been – and continues to be – a hotbed of entrepreneurship and innovation. Last month, I wrote a front-page story about U.S. Photonics, a local tech startup that landed a National Science Foundation grant to research a high-density, lithium-ion nanobattery. And I bet some of the movers and shakers behind SBJ’s Dynamic Dozen – 12 fast-growing companies we recognized earlier this month – might make good appointments.

Not treating Springfield like the state’s stepchild could generate some nice political capital for the governor. Whether it does is up to him.

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