Nixon Announces Third Economic Development Director

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JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon tapped Jason Hall Friday to take over as director of the Department of Economic Development. Hall would replace David Kerr, who announced his resignation last month in the midst of house and senate investigations into the failed Mamtek project. 

Hall currently serves as executive director of the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC). He will be Nixon's third economic development director since the governor took office in January 2009. Nixon's first appointment, St. Louis attorney Linda Martinez, resigned after alleged disagreements with Nixon. 

After announcing his resignation, Kerr defended the DED's role in the failed Mamtek project. Lawmakers criticized the department, saying it didn't do its "due diligence" before shopping out Mamtek, an artificial sweetner project, to different municipalities. Kerr said he was resigning to spend more time with his wife and children. 

The city backed the construction of Mamtek's factory with $39 million in bonds. The state also offered $17 million in tax incentives that Mamtek never received after failing to make bond payments. Eventually, the project flopped and left the city holding the bag. Later, the city said its taxpayers should not be held responsible for the project, leaving the bag in the hands of the bond's trustee, UMB Bank. 

Kerr instead argued it was local officials who pushed the plan forward. A state house committee hopes to reconvene in January to continue investigating what went wrong with the Mamtek project. 

Hall rose to his leadership role within MTC after Nixon appointed him to the position in 2009. The Missouri General Assembly created the quasi-governmental agency to promote growth of emerging high-tech companies. 

MTC is governed by a board of directors appointed by Missouri's governor, speaker of the house and president pro tem of the senate. However, the director of the Department of Economic Development, as well as the president of the UM System, serve as ex officio board members.

Hall's appointment will require senate confirmation once lawmakers return in January.