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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Zone Blitz Kicks Off in Northwest Springfield

The City of Springfield’s Zone Blitz initiative is moving full steam ahead after an event at Nichols Park to kick it off.  Community Listen Zone Blitz is an effort to improve the quality of life in northwest Springfield.

Priority projects were identified during a three-week listening tour in Zone 1 neighborhoods. 

Zone 1 council member, Phyllis Ferguson, said her part of town has problems and they’re problems that have been around for too long.

"We've got a lot of poor people, and they're never going to get ahead without some help," she said.

She’s excited about the new initiative, which is being called an 18-month Blitz, but she said it’s just the beginning.

Springfield City Manager Greg Burris said projects are already underway, including improvements to infrastructure and transportation.  Some families in Zone 1 are taking classes at the Fairbanks to learn steps for getting out of poverty.  And Mary Ann Rojas, director of workforce development for the City of Springfield announced a new satellite office of the MO Career Center.

"We're really excited that our new location will be right there smack in the middle of Zone 1 and 2 and that is at Cox North Medical Tower," she said.

The office will offer things like case management services and computers, and staff will help with resume development and interview skills.

Rojas said the office is badly needed because it takes up to two hours for those in north Springfield to get to the MO Career Center on E. Sunshine by bus.

Other projects under jobs and economic development include offering and promoting more financial literacy training, developing a job skills mentoring program and offering apprenticeships for young people.

The nine areas of concern to be addressed by the city and 200 partner organizations are:  chronic nuisance properties, housing, digital divide, infrastructure and transportation, jobs and economic development, food access, public safety, wellness and healthcare.

Burris said after the initial 18 months are over "they'll stop, step back and measure what worked, what didn't work.  Those things that worked we're going to continue and emphasize.  Those things that didn't work, maybe we try a different strategy."

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