Former President Bill Clinton had some good jobs news Wednesday for Joplin, as the southwest Missouri city works to recover from a devastating tornado.
During a Clinton Global Initiative conference in Chicago, the Democrat announced that the Macon, Mo.-based outsourcing firm Onshore Technology Services plans to create 1,000 jobs in rural Missouri over the next five years with a focus on Joplin. The company trains people, including those who are underemployed or have lost manufacturing jobs, for new careers in information technology.
Clinton praised Onshore for its focus on rural America and for keeping information technology jobs, which are routinely outsourced to other countries, in the United States.
"This is a model for all of you who care about this part of our country which has consistently suffered higher unemployment and lower income gains over the last 20 or 30 years. I ask you all to keep this in mind," he said.
Ron Yust, a principal consultant with Onshore, said during a phone interview that the company's model is "to build outsourcing centers in rural Missouri so that the cost of living is low and we can compete with offshore firms."
The company, which has 72 employees, has Missouri offices in Joplin and Macon and a smaller staff in St. Louis.
News of the jobs push for Joplin comes as the city struggles to rebuild after the May 22 tornado that killed 156 people, injured hundreds of others and damaged about 8,000 homes and businesses.
Shane Mayes, the company's chief executive, said the tornado renewed his commitment to help put people to work.
"We've got a job-creation engine that works," Mayes said after appearing on stage with Clinton.
Mayes said his company hopes to replicate its rural outsourcing model and create an additional 12,000 jobs in the coming years throughout rural America.
The Clinton Global Initiative conference, which like Onshore started six years ago, typically focuses on sweeping global issues such as poverty, disease and climate change.
About 750 people, including business and not-for-profit leaders, are attending the two-day conference in Chicago. The event attracted such big-name speakers Wednesday as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former top aide to Clinton, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was scheduled to appear Thursday with Clinton.