Springfield's Mayor Says Economic Growth in Springfield is Strong
Springfield’s Mayor Bob Stephens said the future of the city continues to be bright. He delivered the State of the City Address this morning. According to Stephens this has been a “typical year—full of successes and complete with challenges.” Economic development is strong, he said. According to Stephens, public-private partnerships and private development have accelerated this year. He pointed to the renovation of the Heers Building on Park Central Square.
"In the minds of many longtime residents, having the lights on at Heers will signify that downtown Springfield is once again a complete and viable economic driver," he said.
And he said growth isn’t just downtown. He referred to the Walmart Neighborhood Market going in at Grand and Campbell, two new Menards planned for Springfield, a shopping center to be built where the abandoned Clarion Hotel sits now along S. Glenstone and a 102-house subdivision that will be built south of Chestnut Expressway east of the US 65 Overpass.
He believes it’s time to have a conversation about annexing sections of residential real estate.
"There are a lot of folks who live on the perimeter of the city who are of Springfield but not really in Springfield. They work in Springfield, they shop in Springfield, they own businesses in Springfield, but they have no voice in Springfield. Perhaps it's time to talk about including them," he said.
He said Springfield continues to solidify its place as the medical hub for southern Missouri, and he’s pleased with the national and worldwide attention Missouri State University is gaining.
Some top challenges facing the city, he said are federal and state unfunded mandates, law enforcement and the justice system (including having no jail space for municipal offenders) and city/county financial stability.
He said DNR recently accepted Springfield’s Overflow Control Plan—part of the overall integration plan for the environment the city’s been working on for more than two years.
"We had a task force that took a look at how much all of the unfunded mandates would cost us, and we divided that by the number of rooftops in the county, and it came out to be about $4300 per year, per household in Greene County," he said.
He said the city has made advances “both technically and politically” over the last two years, but more progress is needed.