Businesses have had to evolve rapidly in the last couple of years. Global changes and economic challenges have eliminated the days of “business as usual,” and put a higher emphasis on the role of creative problem-solvers. “We have to come together to face issues with an honest desire for resolution and progress,” says Lisa Driskel Hawxby, business development specialist with Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI).
REDI, founded in 1988, works to coordinate the region’s economic development and entrepreneurship activities. The organization has a mission of supporting upward economic mobility for the residents of Columbia and Boone County, and is funded by the City of Columbia, Boone County, the University of Missouri, and more than 100 local businesses and municipalities.
Hawxby’s role is to find ways to move the business community forward by removing barriers and finding workable solutions to problems. As a business advocate she helps businesses navigate regulatory processes. She also facilitates opportunities that enhance the vitality of local businesses, support the creation of quality jobs and address workforce challenges. “I do not have a ‘magic wand’ that will make everyone happy, but I do have the ability to facilitate discussions that are necessary for progress,” she says. “Anytime I can make a connection where ideas and/or issues can be approached with a spirit of cooperation to serve the greater good, I feel accomplished.”
With the role of Business Development Specialist being new to mid-Missouri, Hawxby says she is acutely aware that her accomplishments may inspire other communities to develop a similar position. “Business development encompasses many areas that impact all of our daily lives, from workforce development to the strength of the local economy to quality-of-life issues and engaged citizenry,” Hawxby says. “Looking at the community from a holistic lens is critical for success, now and in the future.”