Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) visited Brookfield on Friday afternoon, to congratulate Linn County on being the 17th Certified Work Ready Community. In addition to this, Nixon announced the expansion of two Brookfield-based businesses, adding over 70 new jobs to the area.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) visited Brookfield on Friday afternoon, to congratulate Linn County on being the 17th Certified Work Ready Community. In addition to this, Nixon announced the expansion of two Brookfield-based businesses, adding over 70 new jobs to the area.
“I am proud to announce that Brookfield Fabricating Corporation is expanding with a 30,000 square-foot facility and up to 68 new jobs,” said Nixon. “This is part of a $3.75 million capital investment, right here in Brookfield.”
Nixon continued with a second announcement:  “We are also pleased to announce that they are not the only local company that is expanding. We are proud to announce that National Excelsior Manufacturing is creating a half-dozen new jobs and a 25,000 square foot addition to their facilities.”
Nixon credited the use of the Certified Work Ready Status in the expansion of these two local companies.
“Both of these companies are proud partners in the Certified Work Ready Initiative, and are working with the [Linn County Area Career and Technical Center LCACTC)] to get students to learn the skills necessary to get good jobs when they graduate from high school,” said Nixon. “These are the kinds of opportunities we had in mind when we launched Certified Work Ready in Missouri. This economic opportunity is leading Missouri's economic comeback. Missouri is the best place in the world to create jobs because our workers have the best and most skilled workers to fill these jobs.”
The Governor's visit to Brookfield began just before 1 p.m. on Friday, with his arrival at the Linn County Area Career and Technical Center. Nixon was guided on a tour of the LCACTC by Director Carey Smith, who is touted as one of the driving forces behind Linn County's Certified Work Ready Status. After the tour, which included meeting several of the instructors at the career center, Nixon held a press conference with several local leaders.
“As Mayor, it is my great pleasure to welcome you here today as we share in some exciting news that will benefit our city, county and region,” said Brookfield Mayor Martha Beach. We are fortunate to have Gov. Jay Nixon here. Thank you, Governor, for coming to celebrate with us and share in the pride that we have as a city and county.”
Beach then turned the podium over to Brookfield Economic Development Director Becky Cleveland, who recapped the process that Linn County went through to become the 17th Certified Work Ready Community in Missouri.
“We are here to celebrate the very efforts of our own Linn County story,” said Cleveland. “It is a story of how collaboration with local, state and regional partners is working to better serve the people and businesses in our county community.”
This two-year process for certification was covered earlier this year in the LCL, when the designation was announced.
“In today's economy, a trained and adequate workforce is the key driver in business development and job creation,” said Cleveland. “But there is another aspect that made sense to us. The process required teamwork. You couldn't just do it as a city, or a school. You had to work together. It also required education, economic development, and local and regional government and business to get on the same page to help business. This made real sense to us.”
But Cleveland had a lot of credit to give out for this designation at the press conference. She shared that a number of local youth can take some credit for their hard work in the process as well.
“When I mentioned teamwork earlier, there were a group of folks that are the real behind-the-scenes reason that we are here today,” said Cleveland. “They are the youth of our community. These young people, after taking their finals and getting ready to go on Christmas Break, volunteered to go to Chillicothe with me and take another three hour test. That is dedication to your community.”
Cleveland again stressed the value of the Certified Work Ready Status for Linn County.
“Why does any of this matter?” asked Cleveland. “A certificate is good and fine, but what difference does this make to our Linn County community? Because of these efforts, we have a local team that is ready to network resources and resource providers, helping our local companies tackle their workforce challenges.”
It would be this certification, Cleveland would point out, that helped lead to the second part of the announcements at the press conference.
“Little did we know just how soon we would be utilizing that team to assist two of our very own manufacturers as they plan to expand their operations in Brookfield,” said Cleveland. “That is the second part of our good story, and the part that we are getting ready to hear more about.”
Governor Nixon then addressed the crowd. He discussed his pleasure with the collaborative efforts of Linn County to achieve the Work Ready Certification. Nixon also noted how this certification is helping to bring jobs home to Missouri and Linn County.
“We are here in Linn County to celebrate a notable achievement for the community and its job creators,” began Nixon. “This is an outstanding example of what is possible when business, education, and community leaders work together to prepare Missouri workers for success, to make sure that they have the skills necessary to compete in a global economy.”
Nixon continued: “It might not seem like it, but people can put their investments anywhere in the world, and we have to be able to compete with anyone in the world. These advantages, like Certified Work Ready, give us a huge leg up when we are working on these investments.”
Nixon pointed out the many partners that it took for Linn County to succeed in achieving this certification. Partnerships that reached across city and township lines.
“Linn County stepped up to the plate, forged new partnerships, overcame obstacles, and worked some long hours to accomplish this feat,” said Nixon. “Everybody had to pitch in to get this. This isn't easy to get done. You brought in everyone to accomplish this, from manufacturers like Brookfield Fabricating and Excelsior, to retailers, to small businesses, to Pershing Health Systems and the Linn County Health Department, to educational institutions like Marceline and Brookfield School Districts. Together, you have all worked toward a shared goal and a commitment to giving workers the tools they need to succeed.”
Nixon then presented Smith of the LCACTC with the official gubernatorial proclamation, that Linn County was an ACT Certified Work Ready Community. Nixon then introduced Gary Ball of Brookfield Fabricating Corporation to discuss his company's expansion.
“Anyone driving down Helm Street is seeing some work up there,” noted Ball of his company's sixth expansion since coming to Brookfield in 1985. “We bought the sale barn ground and broke ground in June, and we are expanding to bring our total square footage for production to 84,500 square-feet. It's not huge, but it is big enough for us. The completion is scheduled for January of 2016, and we plan on hiring at the end of this year.”
Ball noted that his company's owners, based out of Texas, chose Brookfield for many reasons.
“There are three reasons that I think are important,” began Ball. “One, Brookfield is centrally-located in our market area. That is very important. We have had excellent cooperation from the city, county, and state governments. That makes it easier to do business and get things done. That is very important. But the biggest thing from our standpoint is the workforce and the quality of that workforce in Linn County.”
But Ball noted that the expansion of Brookfield Fab and Excelsior are just two small parts of the good news that has come over the last few years. The good news of other expansions, and new jobs at other primary job providers.
“The real story is one of success,” said Ball. “Not just for Brookfield Fabricating, but for the city and the state itself. We have had expansions at Apex Plastics, FedEx, Excelsior and Brookfield Fabricating. That is a pretty important aspect of the vitality of the City of Brookfield, the jobs that these expansions have brought.”
Ball continued:  “These jobs are primary jobs, the ones that bring revenue from somewhere else into Linn County, into Brookfield. It pays the way for additional support jobs and service jobs. By increasing primary jobs, it allows other businesses to start, to feed off of the primary jobs. It is so very important, not just for Brookfield Fab, not just for Excelsior, but for all of our citizens. That's the real story, that's the one that needs to be told. A story of not singularity, but of working together to make a community grow.”
Nixon then introduced Jack Forbes, General Manager of National Excelsior Manufacturing, who came to Brookfield via the State Enhanced Enterprise Zone in 1988 and expanded before this to the spec building in the Brookfield Industrial Park.
“We have been fortunate at Excelsior to have landed here,” said Forbes. “We are adding 20,000 square feet to the south of our existing building. This will put us right at 100,000 square feet. We have a new management group that kept us here, and I want to thank them for that. When we were purchased by TEC, our parent company, we had five branches, and we now have 31. We are looking to go from nine semi-loads each week to over 13 in the very near future.”
Forbes even noted that Excelsior helped with the rebuilding of another local business a couple of years ago.
“We landed a contract for 12 McDonald's remodels out of the Chicago firm,” said Forbes. “We built it, shipped it to Chicago, and they turned around and shipped it back here, to put into our McDonald's here locally.”
Cleveland closed the press conference by noting that the story of Linn County is not yet over, and will continue into the future.