Last week Gov. Jay Nixon announced in St. Robert that he was creating the Missouri Military Partnership to help retain, protect and enhance Department of Defense activities in the state. As a part of this effort, the state plans to gather input from military communities. Nixon appointed Treasurer Clint Zweifel to lead the partnership and gather input from military communities.

This week, Zweifel sat down with members of the local media to better explain the initiative.

Q:What are some things you will be doing to meet the goals of this partnership?

Going forward, we are going to be working hard to do everything we can to mobilize resources at home, and make sure we do everything we can to make sure we understand firsthand the importance Fort Leonard Wood plays in our economy.

The other piece is making sure that I work to support the work of our senators and congressional leaders to give them the tools to ensure Missouri is well represented on the national stage in terms of the military.

Q:What ideas do you have for this initiative?

One thing that I'm confident about is our ability to compete. Fort Leonard Wood is serving a strategic purpose in terms of protecting our interests at home and abroad and is doing it in a cost-effective and efficient way. Those things shape me to know they are in place. One of the things I have seen is that we have great efforts on the ground. One of the key things I can do is make sure we are all working together in a position to ensure we can take advantage of opportunities as they come up.

Q:What will the Missouri Military Partnership do for the local community?

This allows us to build a stronger infrastructure around the work we are doing in this state to help support our military installations to expand and enhance them in a new and different environment then we had in the past.

Q: What challenges are you seeing for this effort?

One of the biggest challenges the Fort Leonard Wood area is already doing: finding ways to constantly enhance the environment here for military investment and and for our military men and women. We are going to be in a different budgetary climate than we were ten years ago. So going forward, trying to find ways to be cost efficient and effective [will be a challenge]. When we look at the strengths of Fort Leonard Wood, we are confident we can compete in that new environment.

Q:What did it mean for the state when U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno visited Fort Leonard Wood this week?

Any time Gen. Odierno is willing to take time to see Fort Leonard Wood, it is a good thing for Fort Leonard Wood and for the state. It was wonderful to hear him say positive comments about the work being done at Fort Leonard Wood. His presence in Missouri is something we should be proud of.

Q:Gov. Nixon mentioned a March 31 report will be a part of this initiative. What will that report include?

By March 31, I will be issuing a report to the governor. That report could contain actions that we need to act on at the local and community level, the state level, and also the federal level. This won't be simply a one-stop shop, it is a long-term pathway forward to help enhance support for our military installations

Q:Will you be working with the Missouri Preparedness and Enhancement Commission?

Yes. The work they are doing on the ground is critical and important and representative of our entire state in terms of our support for the military. They have been an important legislative link for us in terms of making sure we are doing outreach to our legislatures making sure they are informed of the economic impact of our military installations. We also have the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership, Committee of 50, Leonard Wood Institute. We have so many great partnerships doing great work. My job is to harness all of that energy so we are all moving in the same direction.

Q:Is this an ongoing effort?

My view going forward in order to compete is to develop a permanent infrastructure to constantly enhance our military installations across the state. That just means working smart, being efficient, having more partnerships and having more ways to be cost-effective. Our effort will provide a pathway forward that will continue.

Q:Do you plan on being in the area more often because of this partnership?

My view of doing a good job leading means that you can't do it inside a bubble, so sitting inside the state capital and making these decisions isn't the way to go, so that means being out and seeing first hand the decisions you're making.