PowerProfile: Randy Allen
President/CEO, Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce
Randy Allen has been at the helm of the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce for quite a long time. This architect turned economic development guru says he enjoys the challenges and the pace of his work: “There is never a dull moment.”
After more than 20 years working for an architectural firm and then for the Missouri State Office of Administration, in 2005 he changed gears and was named president of the capital city’s Chamber of Commerce. A vibrant membership organization supporting local business, it also spearheads the economic development program for the city, and Cole County.
Life was good for the first couple of years as the new Chamber executive, then came a rude awakening.
“Things were going pretty well, memberships were up, the economy was doing well and then the recession of 2008 and 2009 knocked both of those things down, substantially,” Allen related. “It took us a while on both of those fronts to work our way back up. But, memberships are increasing steadily now, and the economy is doing well. We are proud of our progress in both of those areas.”
One measure of success is the occupancy of a “spec” building on the eastern edge of Jefferson City. Built by the Chamber early in Allen’s administration, the building sat vacant for eight years. It did attract potential new employers to Jefferson City and “we finally were able to make a fit.” The 50,000 square foot building was occupied by Axiom Plastics, the new employer who hired 70 workers. But immediately the company expanded the facility to 130,000 square feet. The company now employs more than 130 people at that location. “We’re proud of that,” Allen said.
The Jefferson City Chamber, under Allen’s leadership, was supportive of energy policy legislation passed recently by the General Assembly and signed by the governor. The Chamber issued a statement noting that “the electric grid is the backbone of Missouri’s economy and by working together we can build a modern grid that is smart and secure, while also providing stable rates for customers.”
“From a business standpoint, from a community standpoint, it was a great piece of legislation,” Allen said. “Predictability in business is very important, especially in terms of costs.” The new law provides that, in addition to rate cuts and rate caps over the next five years. It also kick-starts a $1 billion investment in infrastructure improvements.
“A modern grid and obviously cyber security are important,” Allen said. “We know our grid has to be modern, predictable and not subject to attack.” The new law addresses all of those issues, and Allen declared: “That’s huge.”
Randy Allen appears to be a very happy camper. He’s pleased with the new law, his challenging job, and the progress being made statewide and locally. Although he got his architectural degree at neighboring Kansas State University, the capital city native is proud of the Show Me State. “You can’t beat the state of Missouri, and especially Jefferson City.”