Jefferson City lights path for a bright future

KRCG 13 explored where Jefferson City stands today and where it's heading in the future.

It may seem small, but Jefferson City is making great economic strides.

This community of about 43,000 people has grown by more than 4,000 people in just the last decade, opening the doors for people of all ages to settle down.

The State of Missouri is Jefferson city's largest employer, with healthcare and printing coming in second.

The health care industry creates hundreds of jobs, and with a brand new St. Mary's hospital being built off Highway 179, even more career opportunities are coming to the capital city.

R.R. Donnelley, Scholastic, Command Web, and Modern Litho-Print employ thousands of Jefferson City residents, as the city is considered a hub for printing services in the Midwest.

Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Missy Bonnot said employment is somewhat easier to come by in the capital city compared to other mid-Missouri communities.

"I think it's easier to find employment than a lot of other communities even in the last five years when the economy hasn't been that great, we have experienced a little bit of growth, and I think that's been a challenge for other communities that we don't necessarily see in Jefferson City because we're pretty insulated when it comes to the economy."

In fact, Bonnot thinks one of Missouri's best kept secrets could be right in front of our eyes.

"We are a low cost of living area. You know, every community says this but I really think its true in Jefferson City. We do have a great quality of life. There are lots of things you can do as far as recreation, we have great lakes...Binder Lake, our park system is amazing for the size of our community, and we have great job opporunities in Jefferson City, and we're a diverse economy."

The city provides public and parochial education, with a hard-working staff that strives to invest in students' futures. Though, there have been some setbacks.

"We do have challenges in Jefferson City when it comes to our education system. Not too awful long ago we did have an issue that the voters voted down in Jefferson City, and I think our community just really needs to take a look at our high school education and how we're providing education to our students and what do we want to do to increase that and make it better for the students in the future."

The city has also had trouble in recent years with trying to draw in young professionals in a smaller community, but networking groups are working successfully to combat that.

Heather Luebbert is the chair of a young professionals group called hYPe in Jefferson City, which stands for "Helping Young Professionals Evolve."

While the number of young professionals starting their careers in the capital city has been decreasing, groups like hYPe have been reaching out to students and young people to show them the benefits of starting out here.

"Jeff City Start is an organization that was established a few years ago to help students find internships back in our area and partner employers with the interns and vice versa. And so that's all part of the process to help the local universities to draw them back to the Jefferson City community."

There are adavantages to choosing Jefferson City to start life after college, or even start a family.

"Jefferson City is a good area to start out young families. The cost of living is very effective compared to other areas in Missouri. It's a safe community compared to other surrounding areas. It's a welcoming community, it's centrally know, we're right in the middle of Kansas City and St. Louis, and you're a 30 to 45 minute drive from the Lake of the Ozarks, 30 minutes from Columbia," said Luebbert.