Missouri bill seeks to expand university research

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JEFFERSON CITY - The University of Missouri has unused land across the state, and state legislators have some suggestions on how it should be used. A House committee heard a bill Tuesday that would create tax incentives for businesses to rent out vacant state university land.

State Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) said the bill would help the university conduct more research on its land. He said the tax incentive would also help start research-based companies.

Rowden said the plan is to attract businesses that could help the university with its research goals.

"You wouldn't necessarily want a chiropractor, although it's a fine industry," Rowden said. "They're not going to come on and help further the research mission of the University of Missouri."

He said, "I'm thinking more it's high tech, it's STEM, it's some of those things that right now the university and higher institutions around the state are really working to try to further."

He said the bill could help other state universities as well.

"It's obviously not exclusive to the University of Missouri," Rowden said. "There's Missouri State, community colleges in southeast Missouri and all of these places. This spans across the state."

Rowden said the bill would help give back to the community as well.

"If you've got new businesses that are popping up in a community, obviously that's a good thing," Rowden said. "That's more jobs and in more cases than not, they're going to be pretty good paying jobs."

Rowden said he expects the bill will pass out of the committee by the end of the week.