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Springfield Reveals 'Blueprint' for City's Economic Development

Springfield recently unveiled its new “blueprint” for economic development. KSMU’s Ryan Welch has this report.

The Springfield Business Development Corporation is an arm of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. It started working with the national consulting firm, Market Street Services, last year.According to the Chamber of Commerce, the reason was to evaluate and improve Springfield’s economic development plan. Market Street Services, which is based out of Atlanta, researched for months and came up with a Strategic Action Plan. The plan was presented at last Thursday morning’s annual Economic Outlook Conference. The Chamber’s website says the goal of the plan is to provide a guiding “blueprint” for economic development that will strengthen Springfield’s competitiveness and livability for businesses and individuals.

Jim Anderson is the president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, and he says the community will have to be change-agents in order to be successful.

“The reason we were motivated, I think, to do this is we believe the enemy is status quo. In some ways, success breeds complacency. We felt like we need to put ourselves under the microscope, see those areas where we have strengths, build on those, but see areas that perhaps aren’t as strong as they need to be, and try to address those,” said Anderson.

The plan has four main goals, each of which has objectives to help accomplish that goal.

The first goal is to develop the talent in Springfield. One of the ways the city hopes to do that is to ensure that the region’s K-12 school systems successfully prepare students for higher education and the local workforce. Another is to make the area more attractive to talented young professionals, and focus on worker retention.

The second goal is to have an economy that has a healthy, sustained growth. Two of the objectives for this goal are to capitalize on small business and consumer development opportunities, and to market the Springfield area to big businesses and corporations outside of Springfield.

The third goal is to make the Springfield area a compelling and dynamic place to live, work, and visit. The plan suggests one way to do this is to continue the development and revitalization of downtown Springfield and other regional activity centers.

The fourth and final goal is to challenge the perceptions that the world has of Springfield. To do this, the plan aims to dispel myths about Springfield and set it apart as a unique spot, as well as increase the community’s diversity.

Anderson says these goals are part of a long-term process, but that education and awareness are the first steps in achieving this initiative.

“At the end of the day, I think our role is, ‘The buck stops here.’ I mean, we can’t do all of this, but hopefully we can be a facilitator, we can be a convener. We can do the missionary work with other organizations in the region to accomplish these objectives,” said Anderson.

Anderson says he believes that every person can make a difference, and to do so requires engagement in your community. He offers an example.

“If adults in our area would take the time, take the effort, make the commitment to mentor, perhaps children at risk or young people that need, perhaps an adult role model in their family, I think it’d make a huge difference. I mean, that’s just one, simple example,” said Anderson.

Anderson says he hopes to have the new plan set into action at the beginning of 2011.

For KSMU News, I’m Ryan Welch.