Visitors to this year’s Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County Sedalia Showcase at the Missouri State Fair will get more than just a taste of area manufacturing.
Now in it’s ninth year, the Showcase is an invite-only event held the same day as the Governor’s Ham Breakfast that turns a spotlight on area employers including manufacturing and industry. The event was launched by EDSPC Executive Director Linda Christle, who took her position just before the Missouri State Fair in 2004.
“I went to my first fair that year and watched the parade and kept thinking to myself ‘Where are our manufacturers?’ I decided we needed to do something for them,” Christle told the Democrat on Wednesday. “We had the first one in 2005 and we had about 30 people attend. This year we are inviting more than 400. It just continues to grow.”
Since the 2005 exposure for Duke Manufacturing, EDSPC has shined a light on ProEnergy Services, Inter-State Studios, Ditzfeld Transfer and a host of other minor and major players in the local economy. Beginning in 2009, EDSPC partnered with Boys & Girls Club of West Central Missouri, with club staff providing support assistance for the event.
However, with Maxion Wheels and international trade taking center stage during this year’s Showcase on Aug. 15, the club and its students will be playing a much larger role.
“Our level of involvement this year is unprecedented,” said Matt LaCasse, the club’s marketing specialist.
Following a meeting between Christle, Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Brett Barth-Fagan, and Edie Reaves, Maxion’s Sedalia plant manager, the group identified a host of activities meant to work in conjunction with the club’s summer curriculum. For younger children, Maxion provided 50 wheel rims that the students at Parkview Elementary have been painting and decorating over the last few weeks.
For teens, Maxion employees have worked with two teams — boys versus girls — who have spent the summer constructing robot arms that may be used as a basis for a full scale model that will be installed at the Sedalia plant.
The wheels and robotic projects will be on display during the event, and visitors will vote on the best robot arm design.
Students have also produced a promotional video for the plant and have devised a safari-themed scavenger hunt for Showcase visitors participating in plant tours on Aug. 15.
Reaves told the Democrat she was excited by her meeting with Christle and Barth-Fagan, especially a chance to promote Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) education, as well as an opportunity to foster closer ties to the community.
“We saw this as a way to get our workforce and employees plugged in to the larger community and to get our youth aware that we are an industry here in Sedalia they could have a future with,” Reaves said. “We have 35 years of history here and we want 35 more. Many children going to school here today could have opportunities and careers at Maxion.”
Melissa Boeschen, the club’s donor development specialist, said the relationship also provides the club an opportunity to “forge great community relationships,” by sharing the mission and accomplishments of the club with business owners and managers. She also praised Christle for “all she does for this community.’
“I don’t think people know the full impact of what she does, from helping businesses grow to bringing in new jobs. She is the conduit for a lot of things that happen in our community. It has been a really great opportunity for our kids to work with them this year,” Boeschen said.