Breaking down the work REDI has been doing for the community for the past 30 years.
Regional Economic Development Inc., known to most people as REDI, is a local collaboration that has worked to benefit the Columbia and Boone County community since its founding in 1988. Yet, many people still ask — what does REDI do?
It’s a complicated question to answer. REDI works with a long list of partners and provides a wide array of programs. Some people may have worked with or known about one of REDI’s programs, but not the others. Or they may have heard the REDI name but not ever understood exactly what we do.
What REDI would like you to know is that all our efforts are designed with one goal in mind — to help create quality, living-wage jobs that provide upward economic mobility for our residents and sustain a dynamic local economy for our community.
How does REDI do This?
Collaboration is the heart of REDI and all we do. REDI brings together the City of Columbia, Boone County, MU, local businesses, organizations, educational institutions, municipalities, service agencies, and more to coordinate economic development programs that create jobs. Together, all these groups work through REDI to attract new businesses to the area, support existing businesses so they can thrive and expand, and they help entrepreneurs grow startup businesses. These businesses, in turn, create and retain jobs for our community’s residents. And as the employees and employers succeed, they all contribute to the tax base that supports schools, libraries, roads, public safety, and other services.
How is REDI Funded?
REDI’s budget to provide these services is funded through both public and private investments. The City of Columbia provides the REDI staff, who also serve as part of the city’s department of economic development. The city, Boone County, and MU join with many private sector investors – more than 70 in 2020 — to fund REDI’s operations and economic development programs.
Funds invested in REDI make possible REDI’s work in three strategic focus areas: attraction, business retention and expansion, and entrepreneurship.
REDI manages a database of available sites and buildings and assists landowners in acquiring Missouri Certified Site status. When businesses are looking to locate in a community, they generally send a request for proposals outlining what they are looking for in a new site. REDI responds to RFPs, which often require extensive knowledge and information about the availability and cost of infrastructure, including utilities, transportation, and workforce. REDI coordinates site visits when needed and performs due diligence to learn as much as possible about any company that chooses Columbia or Boone County for a new location. When a company decides to locate here, REDI can help the company connect with local providers and state programs to support the company.
Business Retention and Expansion
REDI works to increase the stability of existing legacy companies. REDI coordinates with local businesses to identify skill gaps and partners with educational institutions to provide labor force training, certification, and degree programs. REDI conducts site visits with area businesses and community leaders to identify and address needs. REDI offers existing businesses the opportunity to share information at REDI Board of Directors meetings and brings together local plant managers. REDI also provides ongoing support to existing businesses, including connections to local and state support.
REDI supports entrepreneurs creating startups, as well as existing and growing small businesses. REDI offers a full-time entrepreneurial coordinator and the Hub co-working space, with programming to provide entrepreneurial resources and support to a diverse clientele. REDI supports the region’s startup ecosystem, and provides offices for the supplier diversity program for minority- and woman-owned business enterprises, the Missouri Women’s Business Center, the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and the Small Business Administration — all right here on site with REDI and the Hub. REDI also promotes grassroots entrepreneurship programs and is assisting with revitalization of The Loop, including providing small-scale manufacturing support and launching a shared commercial kitchen.
REDI’s mission spelled out 30 years ago is still the focus of REDI’s work today: Increase economic opportunities, maintain our community’s superior quality of life, recruit new businesses, retain existing business and assist with expansion, and support new business startups. REDI serves businesses in Columbia and throughout Boone County in ways big and small. Large projects to which REDI lends assistance can be more well-known because they attract media coverage. But equally important is the everyday assistance REDI offers, such as helping businesses find available space, helping employers and educators work together to equip students with skills employers are seeking, connecting businesses to state programs that help with employee training or aid in expansion, providing co-working space for a startup, or helping an entrepreneur find a mentor. These are among the myriad services that provide widespread support to our community businesses and provide its residents with a stable economic base.