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Business and the Economy

Resolving an “Issue of Access,” Springfield Opens Job Center on North Side

Scott Harvey
Springfield Zone 1 Councilmember Phyllis Ferguson (Center) helps cut the ribbon for the new north side job center.

No longer will use of public transportation for hours be the best way some Springfield citizens access job placement services.

City officials on Monday formally unveiled its new job center location inside Cox North. The 1,900 square foot space solves an issue of access, according to Springfield Workforce Development Director Mary Ann Rojas.

“Individuals that required public transportation to get to our facility on Sunshine Avenue had to take up to two hours to get there using public transportation,” she said.

Southeast Springfield, where the main job center is located, boats one of the city’s best unemployment rates. Whereas north Springfield, Zone 1 in particular, is the worst at 12 percent. The labor force participation rate in this area, according to the Census Bureau, is just 59 percent. Officials have also learned that the majority of TANF participants, or those receiving financial assistance from the government, live in Zones 1 and 2.

Missouri Job Center
Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU
The workshop room inside the Missouri Job Center North Springfield.

“So this really was an issue of access to service. Not only access to services but services that lead to economic opportunity for those residents,” said Rojas.   

Since the north side job center opened on November 21st, some 150 people have visited to receive help with a variety of job services. The facility offers teachings for career placement, youth and businesses, plus has a Skills Department and provides classes or workshops.

Missouri Job Center North Springfield is another initiative aimed at improving the lives of citizens in the city’s northwest quadrant; a project called Zone Blitz. Rojas, who was a member of the Blitz’s Jobs and Economic Development team, said its focus from the first meeting nearly two years ago was a north side career center.   

Seven of the center’s staff members were transferred from the Sunshine facility to work at the north complex. It features three computer stations in the waiting area up front, along with roughly a dozen inside the classroom facility in back.  

Ahead of Monday’s ribbon cutting, Zone 1 Councilmember Phyllis Ferguson told the crowd she’s exited for the opportunity this affords residents, and challenged them to take advantage.

“Our time has come, our job center is open and it’s time for us to do our part. The doors are open, let’s get to work.”   

CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards shared he also sees the space as a way to encourage interest in health-related jobs, citing the region’s shortage in healthcare professionals.

The hospital financed the renovations for the space inside Cox Medical Tower at 1443 N Robberson, Ste 100. Rojas says the city is responsible for operational expenses and the $27,000 annual lease.

Missouri Job Center North Springfield is open Monday through Friday, 8 am – 5 pm.

Follow Scott Harvey on Twitter: @scottksmu

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