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April 3 marked a significant victory for efforts to grow our region’s skilled workforce and fuel job creation, as two ballot initiatives requested by Ozarks Technical Community College were both successful at the polls in their seven-county taxation district.
Proposition A, which received 65 percent of the vote, is a 20-year renewal of a 5-cent property tax that was originally approved by voters in 1998. That tax has been used to complete the college’s Industry and Transportation Technology Center and establish numerous degree and training programs in high-demand healthcare and technical fields.
Proposition B, which passed with 57 percent of the vote, is a new 5-cent property tax that also carries a 20-year sunset. It will allow OTC to create a Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Technology, with training focused on skills needed for quality jobs in our region in programs ranging from mechatronics to stainless steel production, precision manufacturing and 3-D printing. Prop B also will help the college expand technical and allied health programs at the Richwood Valley and Table Rock campuses, and provide additional training for displaced workers.
In recent years, the Chamber has intensified its efforts to help develop the workforce that employers need, both now and in the future. Supporting this regional investment in OTC has strengthened one of our community’s most vital partners in that effort. The college has demonstrated repeatedly its commitment to fiscal responsibility and transparency, and the voters rewarded that commitment with their trust.
And now – as OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon said on the evening of April 3 after the polls had closed and the ballots had been counted – the hard work begins. But that work wouldn’t have been possible without your support.
So, thank you. Thank you to Randall Wallace of Lathrop Gage and John Wanamaker of BKD, LLP, for leading the effort to support these proposals, and thank you to the more than 160 donors who made a successful campaign possible.
But most of all, thank you to the voters of the Springfield region who showed their support for the region’s current and future workforce in way that matters the most: at the polls. We are excited to see what the future holds for one of our community’s most important education and workforce partners.