When the newly formed Unified Economic Development Council (UEDC) in Louisiana, Missouri was looking for an Executive Director, they could not have chosen a better qualified leader for the job than Maggie (Thiel) Neff ’07 KKΓ from Louisiana.
“I am very excited about this new role in my hometown,” Maggie stated. “I’ve always been passionate about this community and its development, and now I can use my education and experiences to directly affect and cultivate expansion here. As a small business owner, I am familiar with the struggles. I believe my experience will benefit our business retention and expansion and ensure successful Chamber and LVC operations, fundraising, entrepreneurship and new business creation, and workforce development.”
In late 2017, the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce, Visitors and Convention Bureau, Louisiana Community Betterment, and Louisiana Municipal Corporation all pooled their resources into this new alliance to improve the economic climate of Louisiana through new businesses, business expansions, grants, and tourism.
“Maggie was the ideal candidate for this position, and we are fortunate to have her on board,” said Louisana Mayor Bart Niedner, who also chairs the UEDC. “Maggie has significant state legislative experience and is a lawyer capable of understanding and parsing the various funding and state efforts with which we need to engage. She is professional and intelligent, and she has strong ties to the community, including a successful downtown business.”
A native of Louisiana, Maggie graduated with a degree in political science at Westminster and left to earn a law degree from the University of Missouri.
“Westminster prepared me not only for working hard and attaining goals in my career but also for giving back to the community and being a leader among my peers,” says Maggie. “My new role is partly a desk job, but it is mostly working with and forming relationships with other leaders throughout the area, state, and region. I do not think any other college could have prepared me for my role as well as Westminster did.”
Maggie worked as a legislative analyst for the Missouri House of Representatives from 2013-2016 and has been active with the UM Student Animal Legal Defense and UM Women’s Law Association.
“We feel her experience with the legislature gives Maggie an advantage in researching policies that assist local governments and communities in increasing their economic growth and sustainability,” Mayor Niedner.says.
She co-owns Fat Boy’s Restaurant, a startup business she has made highly successful in downtown Louisiana, and from the experience has the necessary background to advise and encourage other entrepreneurs.
She is also very active in the community and attributes that passion for service to Westminster.
“My college years taught me that I am not just a member of my community, but that I should play an active role in it,” says Maggie. “Aside from my day job, I am also Secretary of the School Board, a Board member of Louisiana’s Rotary Club, and I’m on the Board of Directors for our Raintree Arts Council, which promotes fine arts in our county. Westminster instilled in me a desire to be an energetic participant in my community and not just a bystander. For that, I will forever be grateful to the College and give it credit for nurturing that spirit in me.”
Maggie will work under the direction of the UEDC Board of Directors.
“I have so much pride in this city, and I feel that it is ready to grow economically and demographically after a few decades of decline,” Maggie says. “The next few years will bring bridge and transportation improvements, setting us up for an increase in tourism, and we are also a prime location for industrial and commercial growth. I plan to take full advantage of these improvements and will be seeking new industries and professionals to relocate here as well as nurturing the relationships with our current businesses.”