The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) recently announced that Shawna Searcy will serve as its new Deputy Director for the Regional Engagement Division, which promotes regional economic growth through tailored solutions for business and community development projects.
Searcy previously served as executive director of the Kearney Area Development Council, where she led efforts to promote economic development, ensure success of local projects and ran a successful use tax campaign.
“Shawna has the experience and passion our team needs in a leader, and we’re thrilled to welcome her to DED,” said Lori Becklenberg, Director of the Division of Regional Engagement. “Regional Engagement team members are located in communities across Missouri to better understand their needs and deliver custom solutions. Shawna’s history of driving change at the community level makes her a perfect fit for our division as we work to create more opportunities for all Missourians, whether urban or rural.”
Regional Engagement serves as the primary contact for DED’s partners and customers as they access state and federal agency resources. The division consists of six teams distributed across all regions: central, southwest, southeast, northern and the Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas. Regional Engagement also operates 15 international offices located across the globe.
Searcy has experience working with community leaders, businesses and government agencies to overcome obstacles and ensure progress. She has also worked for Congressman Sam Graves in his Kansas City district office. Searcy currently serves as President of the Missouri Economic Development Council and board member of the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (Northland CAPS). She holds a degree in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
“I’m excited to join the team at DED and continue using my skills to serve Missourians,” Searcy said. “My career in economic development has provided opportunities to work with various stakeholders to arrive at solutions that strengthen communities. I look forward to the chance to help lead the Regional Engagement Division and improve the lives of people across Missouri’s unique and diverse regions.”
The Regional Engagement Division was established in 2019 during DED’s reorganization which dedicated more resources to business development and ensured efforts were targeted to each of the state’s urban and rural regions. In Fiscal Year 2022, DED contributed to the completion of more than 100 business projects associated with the creation of nearly 10,000 new jobs and more than $2 billion in investment.