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Local Government Policy Agenda

approved by Chamber board 1/19/10

Economic Development 

Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce is an advocate for economic development and job creation. The Chamber supports policies and initiatives that encourage business growth and expansion, and improve the business climate of the Springfield area.

The Springfield regional economy is driven by the success of small business. Successful businesses produce the tax revenues that help the City of Springfield and Greene County provide the services our citizens require. Proposed local laws, regulations and permitting processes must be viewed from the perspective of the small business owner and should always consider the intended and unintended impacts of those proposals – especially in terms of the cost of doing business.

Springfield must be an attractive place to do business. First and foremost, the City of Springfield and Greene County must focus on providing first-class customer service in order to be business-friendly. In an effort to create and retain jobs, our community must be perceived as a place that is worthy of business investment. Currently, the City of Springfield’s development review process is perceived as broken and should be corrected.

Steady and manageable growth makes a positive contribution to our community’s economy and quality of life. Proper preparation for growth includes planning for the timely construction of infrastructure improvements – roads and schools in particular – that will accommodate Springfield and Greene County’s anticipated growth in an orderly manner. It is important for infrastructure improvements to be funded in a fair, broad-based way.

Continued improvement of the Springfield/Greene County transportation system is one of the Chamber’s primary economic development goals. As a regional economic hub, the ability to transport people and goods safely and efficiently throughout the metropolitan area is vitally important. The Chamber has been a long-standing supporter of the City’s ¼-cent capital improvements program, the 1/8-cent transportation sales tax and other proactive and collaborative means to generate adequate funding for specific infrastructure improvements.

Springfield must remain competitive in the effort to attract and retain quality jobs. With the increasing mobility afforded by modern technology, many individuals and businesses can locate anywhere they choose. Incentive programs like enhanced enterprise zones, tax increment financing, community improvement districts, and transportation development districts should be used prudently and creatively to help attract and retain people and companies. Likewise, growth management tools such as planning and zoning, annexation and urban service areas must be utilized appropriately and strategically.

The public/private sectors should work collaboratively to support economic growth. Continued collaboration through the public/private partnership is critical to Springfield’s economic development future. Ensuring economic development remains a public sector priority will be dependent on the commitment of City and County local elected officials.

Quality of Life

A parallel goal to economic development is quality of life. In southwest Missouri, those two goals cannot be separated because so much of our economic success derives from the reality that our region is an appealing place to live. We must make every effort to keep it that way.

It is important to maintain the natural resources and scenic beauty of the Ozarks in partnership with business and industry. Offering incentives for and rewarding environmental stewardship and sustainable practices in business, government, and development is more effective than mandating regulation. Local government officials, business leaders and other stakeholders must continue to work together to address emerging water issues (such as surface and groundwater quality and quantity, as well as urban storm water management) and to encourage and reward innovation and conservation.

Recent studies have indicated that the increasing rates of poverty in the Springfield area pose a threat to our community’s future economic growth. The Chamber encourages a frank, community-wide discussion on this issue with a particular focus on the need to invest in early childhood education and job training initiatives in order to prepare those in poverty for full participation in the local economy.

In today’s globally-connected and competitive economy, Springfield’s prosperity is directly linked to the talent and educational achievement of the workforce. Our community has tremendous assets in this regard: the Springfield metro area is home to 16 colleges and universities with nearly 45,000 students. We must keep our higher education institutions strong and well-networked with one another, the business community and public education.

Principles of Governing Necessary for Effective, Responsible Leadership

• There must be cooperation and effective communication among political subdivisions such as the City of Springfield, Greene County and surrounding communities. It is important not to make decisions in isolation and to be aware of the regional impact of local decisions.

• As much as possible, it is desirable for our City and County to have the freedom and flexibility to make decisions at the local level, rather than have those decisions (often unfunded) handed down through mandates from the state and federal levels of government.

• Any time decisions are contemplated that affect a particular segment of the community, representatives of that affected sector should be invited to the table for dialogue and input. Their input should be used as meaningful direction in the process of developing sound public policy.

• When appropriate, City and County government officials should consider functional consolidation in order to achieve improved administrative efficiency, streamlined processes, and elimination of duplication of administrative and regulatory functions. Ultimately, appropriate functional consolidation will improve customer service and reduce compliance costs for business and citizens.

• Local government credibility is improved when proposals include accountability measures, such as precise communication of the identified need and proposed use of taxes and fees; sunsets to allow for voter review of the necessity and effectiveness of the tax; and follow-up documentation and communication to voters to ensure that promises have been kept.

• In an effort to ensure these principles are upheld, the Chamber will actively encourage local business and community leaders to consider candidacy for public office including Springfield City Council.