Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick made a couple stops in Independence Tuesday to highlight the beginning of Disability Employment Awareness Month.

He was promoting the MO ABLE program in visits to the Hocker Heights and Pleasant Heights housing sites. At Hocker Heights, he visited a class where a couple students were learning Microsoft Word, a step toward improved job skills.

Under MO ABLE, those with disabilities can open an account and put in up to $15,000 a year without that counting against asset limits for programs such as Medicaid or Social Security. The earnings are tax-free for qualified expenses. For those who have lived under the constraints of asset limits, that’s a game-changer, Fitzpatrick said.

He said his role here is to raise awareness. There are programs to connect adults with disabilities with employers with specific needs.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “I think it’s just trying to educate people that people with disabilities have value …”

Slowing down

A closely watched economic gauge fell sharply in September. The Institute for Supply Management surveys purchasing managers at manufacturing companies across the country to get a sense of where things are headed.

That ISM number came in at 47.8 last month, the lowest since mid-2009, more or less the bottom of the Great Recession. New export orders were a particular concern last month. It’s a 100-point scale, and any number below 50 suggests economic contraction ahead. Nationally, that number has been below 50 for two months.

It’s been below 50 for two months in the Midwest as well, slipping to 49.1 in September, according to the Creighton Economic Forecasting Group. It uses the same methodology as ISM. The Midwest number has fallen five of the last six months.

Missouri also slipped below “growth neutral” in September, down to 49.2. Four of the five categories – new orders, production, inventories and employment – were below 50 in Missouri. Delivery lead time was at 55.2. According to Creighton, construction in Missouri is up, but manufacturers are looking at slow or no growth in the months ahead.

Quick hits

QuikTrip says it hopes to start construction in Grain Valley within a couple months and open next summer. It’s coming to a spot on Buckner-Tarsney Road just north of Interstate 70. … Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, which opened at 1348 S. Noland Road four years ago, has closed. The company also had a location at Summit Woods Crossing in Lee’s Summit. Dickey’s, based in Dallas, is a national company selling Texas-style barbecue at nearly 500 locations across 43 states, but it’s down to one metro location, at Tiffany Springs. … Ignite Medical Resorts is building a “medical resort” next to Cedarhurst of Blue Springs, near Children’s Mercy Hospital off Little Blue Parkway. The will be the company’s third such facility in the metro area, with 80 suites and 90 beds. It’s a skilled nursing center for short-term patients recovering from surgery, injury or illness.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6365 or jeff.fox@examiner.net. He’s on Twitter at @FoxEJC.