Economic Development Authority executive director speaks at Chamber event


On Wednesday, June 8, the Perryville Area Chamber of Commerce held a coffee and connections event at Robinson Event Center.
Crystal Jones, the executive director of the Perry County Economic Development Authority as well as Perryvile city administrator Brent Buerck were the featured speakers.
Jones, who began her role with the EDA this spring, described the function of the job.
“We work with both existing businesses and also businesses looking to locate to Perry County, just being a resource for them,” Jones said.
State agencies the EDA works with include the Missouri Department of Economic Development and Missouri Partnership. Recruitment of new business and industry plays a role.
Jones also is a member of Missouri Economic Development Council. “That’s where we get our continuing education information,” she said.
Federal partners with the Perry County EDA include the Delta Regional Authority, which is a public/private partnership which represents 252 counties and parishes across eight states along the Mississippi River Delta
“We like to stay engaged with that organization because not every county in Missouri is eligible to receive those benefits,” she said.
Jones also works with the Economic Development Administration and Small Business Development Centers. Later, she described the importance of an updated web site and social media that connects with businesses and individuals.
“There is a big push to keep it up to date and current,” Jones said.
In addition, Jones spoke of the need for long-term strategic planning, which includes tasks such as setting up goals and objectives “so we’re all rowing the boat in the same direction.”
“We’re looking at a business retention and expansion initiative, putting together a team of folks that can go to existing businesses in Perry County and just talk to them,” Jones said. “What are their pain points? What’s going well for them? What are some things the team can help them with? That sort of thing?”

Jones explained how she is a big user of data, and provided a couple of examples from the 2020 U.S. Census, including a “home to work destination report” which reported a total of 9,511 from all counties traveled to Perry County for employment. This included 5,211 (54.78 percent) from Perry County, 966 (10.15 percent) from Cape Girardeau and 617 (6.48 percent) from Ste. Genevieve County.
“If you’re a company and you’re looking to recruit a workforce, I think this is important information, maybe you need to market a little further out,” she said.
In addition, Jones also provided an example of how studying industry and manufacturing metrics can help inform area leaders of potential production needs.
“This is just a little snippet of what we can pull and how data can help us inform decisions,” she said.
Later, using estimated population counts from 2019, Jones shared “business dynamics statistics,” which she described as “where were jobs created and in what industry.”
This tool revealed that 129 construction jobs were created three years ago in Perry County, followed by retail trade (76) and manufacturing (62). This was followed by accommodation and food service (45), administrative (40) and health care and social assistance (33).
Jones briefly discussed the work of Downtown Perryville, which recently unveiled a new logo’
It’s a way to “brand all of the events, so when people look at it, it’s downtown event.”
The Downtown Perryville Committee plans and organizes events throughout the year.
The deadline to appear for funding in the city’s tax increment financing program is Friday, June 24.
Façade improvement or structural improvement
It’s a “cost/share” measure to assist owners with updates and improvement projects.

Daniel Winningham can be reached at