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EquipmentShare's campus is located in the former Ashley furniture building near Columbia's I-70 Lake of the Woods exit (2022 file photo courtesy of EquipmentShare's Meg Judy)

(AUDIO): Columbia’s city manager touts EquipmentShare and Swift Foods; acknowledges staffing shortages in every department

Columbia city manager De’Carlon Seewood (photo courtesy of city of Columbia website)

Columbia’s city manager highlighted the city’s explosive growth during Wednesday’s state of the city address.

De’Carlon Seewood tells reporters and residents that the city has already plotted more than 400 residential lots this fiscal year, with many more in the pipeline.

“We’ve also seen many new businesses come to Columbia. Our Business License office has already approved 371 new licenses and more than 170 licenses (are) pending approval. That means more than 500 new businesses will call Columbia home,” Mr. Seewood says.

This is the exterior of the EquipmentShare facility in east Columbia (2022 file photo courtesy of EquipmentShare spokeswoman Meg Judy)

Seewood also discussed EquipmentShare’s decision to build its $100-million new headquarters in Columbia. He says construction is underway, and that the expansion will bring about 500 new jobs over the next five years. EquipmentShare is located near I-70’s Lake of the Woods exit and is in the former Ashley Furniture building. Their expansion is one of the largest in Columbia history.

Columbia’s city manager says Swift Foods still plans to hire more than 150 people at its massive plant on Route B this year. City manager De’Carlon Seewood highlighted Swift’s opening during his state of the state address on Wednesday.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson and city, county and state officials prepare to cut the ribbon for Columbia’s $200-million Swift Foods plant on Route B (April 6, 2023 file photo courtesy of the governor’s Flickr page)

“The company invested more than $200-million in its new 325,000 square foot facility located on Paris road. Principe Foods has already created 100 new jobs in the region and plans to hire 200 more people over the next year,” Seewood says.

Swift is still hiring and the average salary is $50,000. The plant is near Como Smoke and Fire on Route B. Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe says the plant’s opening is huge for Columbia, providing living-wage jobs. Swift’s project is the largest private investment in Columbia history.

Mr. Seewood also says the city’s approximately 1,500 employees are the city’s most valuable asset. City staff and pay have been a top priority for Seewood, who emphasized the issue during state of the city.

“Because without our staff, there are no parks, there are no utilities, there is no one to respond to our emergencies,” says Seewood.

Mr. Seewood tells reporters and residents that a comprehensive city employee pay study will be finished in the new few months before being presented to the city council. That study will compare Columbia to similar markets.

Columbia city employees received a seven percent pay increase in 2022, three percent in May and another four percent in September. Mr. Seewood tells 939 the Eagle that the city currently has about 250 vacancies.

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