Jeff Samborski has a good reminder for local business owners. University of Missouri Extension offers a wide range of services to help businesses research, plan and grow.

“I hope you look to MU Extension as a resource …” he said.

Samborski, an Extension business development specialist in Jackson County, spoke at Tuesday’s Grain Valley Partnership monthly luncheon.

He outlined training for such things as QuickBooks and advanced QuickBooks. Also: selling to the government, winning government contracts, and social media for business. Wellness programs, he pointed out, can help cut insurance costs.

Extension can also point you in the direction of other helpful resources, such as the FastTrac courses offered through the Small Business and Technology Development Center at UMKC.

“We work closely with a lot of partners,” Samborski said.

And here’s a resource, offered with the USDA. “Grow Your Farm,” for both beginning and experienced farmers, is on 10 Wednesdays starting Feb. 28, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Extension’s offices at 105 E. Fifth St. in the River Market area. Those taking part will come away with a business plan in hand.

“We’re finding a lot of millennials right now are interested in getting back to nature and farming,” Samborski said.

As with many Extension courses, there is a fee. Go to for details.

MU Extension also has resources for that constant issue for workers and their bosses – workforce development.

“In fact,” Samborski said, “we do have some great curriculum.”

Quick hits

An Independence company, Dollins Tool, is selling itself to a worldwide company, Mold & Robotics Group. Dollins, founded in 1952, describes itself as a “leader in supplying thin wall packaging molds and mold solutions.” … CoreLogic says home sales in the Kansas City area rose 6.3 percent from December 2016 through December 2017. … The Creighton Economic Forecasting Group says manufacturing in Missouri looks to remain strong in the months ahead. It says the business conditions index fell to 53.6 in January from 55.3 in December, though that’s still in positive territory. Heavy manufacturing is growing and adding jobs the more quickly than other areas, Creighton says. The Midwest as a whole stood at 57.3, the 14th straight month in which the index has had a positive reading.

Study hard

State Rep. Jeanie Lauer, R-Blue Springs and chair of the House Workforce Development Committee, is back this year with a bill to allow high school students to take the WorkKeys test -- a broad assessment of work readiness -- instead of the ACT college-entrance exam.

She’s also promoting more externships and getting schools to place more of an emphasis on computer science.

“That is obviously a big field,” she says.

Also, she says, the General Assembly may have found some momentum on addressing an issue that’s long stood in the way of economic development in some areas.

“There’s a lot of emphasis on getting broadband out across the state,” she says.

-- Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business reporter and editor. Reach him at 816-350-6313 or

. He’s on Twitter @FoxEJC.