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Local History

Springfield Tries to Improve During Changing Economy

A new study released Wednesday morning, shows that Springfield has several economic strengths, but also that it’s not fully equipped to handle a changing economy. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner reports.

It’s been 22 years since Springfield has had a Competitive Assessment study done.

A Competitive Assessment study looks at how Springfield compares with other cities in categories such as people, prosperity and place.

The study highlights Springfield’s strengths and weaknesses in each of those areas.

Jim Anderson, president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, says this study was a wake up call.

“We’ve been a little complacent. Are we poised and positioned to address the new economy? I’m not sure we are and there’s some work we need to do and I think we will do it. I have faith we’ll roll up our sleeves and come together. We’ll collaborate and make things happen as we have before, but it’s time to do that,” Anderson said.

Anderson says poverty is the weakness that needs to be addressed first.

“There’s a lot of wealth in our region, but there’s a huge amount of poverty. And when you look at 20 percent of our kids are living in poverty, that’s a number that is inexcusable. It’s a number we can’t accept. So, from my perspective the best economic development we can do as a region is to make sure we have the kind of community that we need to have, so economic development can happen,” Anderson said.

Mayor Jim O’Neal says now is the time fix the weaknesses while maintaining the strengths.

“I think what came out of here from a time standpoint is a sense of urgency. It is urgent that we move forward on addressing some of these weaknesses, because we’re going to lose an entire generation if we’re not careful and we’re going to need that generation to lead us,” O'Neal said.

O’Neal says Springfield does have some key strengths such as a strong housing market, a population that’s increasingly diverse and an increase in regional job growth.

For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.