Local Public Policy
Ensuring the strength of Springfield's business climate begins at home. That's why the Chamber works at the local level to represent business interests with regard to City Council and School Board candidates as well as during local elections and at Springfield City Council.
The Chamber is focused on removing barriers to business growth and proactively improving Springfield's business climate. All of the candidates and ballot issues that the Chamber weighs in on on are put through a thorough member-driven process and approved by the Chamber's Board of Directors.
The Chamber's local policy agenda serves as a guidebook as we weigh in on issues and advocate on behalf of our members at the local level.
Approved by Chamber Board 1/19/10
Updated & Reaffirmed by Chamber Board 10/22/21
The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce is an advocate for economic development and job creation. The Chamber supports policies and initiatives that encourage business growth, expansion and investment, and improve the business climate and quality of life in the Springfield area.
Small Business Support
The Springfield regional economy is driven by the success of business- especially small businesses. A prosperous business community produces vital economic activity and jobs as well as 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.
Business Friendly Climate
Springfield must be an attractive place to do business. The City of Springfield and Greene County must focus on providing first-class customer service in order to encourage business investment and development-. In an effort to create and retain jobs, our community must be perceived as a place that is open for business investment. Currently, the City of Springfield’s development review process is perceived as broken and should be corrected.
Steady and manageable growth has a positive impact on our community, on quality of life, and the development of the workforce. Proper preparation for growth includes planning for the timely permitting for and construction of infrastructure improvements 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.
Growth must include a strategy for annexation. The Chamber supports the annexation of land parcels with voluntary consent annexation agreements, where eligible, as well as the implementation of an intentional long-term, strategic annexation plan, that may include involuntary annexation.
Continued improvement of the Springfield/Greene County multimodal 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 repeatedly endorsed the City’s ¼-cent capital improvements program, the 1/8-cent transportation sales tax and supports other proactive and collaborative means, including maximizing the state’s cost share program, to generate adequate funding for specific infrastructure improvements, including ongoing maintenance
The Chamber supports the completion of the sanitary sewer system to cover the entire City of Springfield and working with regional communities to support future development.
Attracting Jobs and Business Investment
Springfield must remain competitive in the effort to attract and retain quality jobs and workforce. With the increasing mobility afforded by modern technology, many individuals and businesses can locate anywhere they choose, so investment in broadband should remain a priority. 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 Chamber supports charter consistency with state statutes by exempting changes to Springfield zoning ordinances from initiative or referendum petition.
The public and 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 is critical and is dependent on the commitment of City and County local elected officials.
Quality of Life
Quality of life is directly related to growth and economic development. In southwest Missouri, 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.
Job Skills and Training
Connecting unemployed and underemployed individuals with training and jobs is a key element to the future economic success of our region.. The Chamber encourages investment in early childhood education and job training initiatives in order to upskill the workforce and encourage full participation in the local economy while meeting the workforce needs of area employers.
Investment in public safety is key to our future. Rising crime rates within a community threaten economic growth and quality of life. The Chamber has repeatedly endorsed proposals to properly fund and ensure solvency of the police-fire pension system, as well as supported public safety capital investments through the Level Property Tax. Neighborhood, business and individual safety should continue to be a top priority of the city. The Chamber supports continued efforts to address crime in the community, including working to recruit and retain top talent for the public safety workforce.
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 numerous colleges and universities with over 40,000 students. We must keep our higher education institutions strong and well-networked with one another, the business community and public education.
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.
Focusing on the livability of our community will enhance quality of life and talent attraction. Support for “placemaking” efforts will help ensure Springfield is more economically competitive by enhancing its desirability for the current and future workforce.
Principles of Governing Necessary for Effective, Responsible Leadership
The Chamber appreciates local office holders’ commitment of time and efforts to deal with issues and make decisions for the benefit of our business community.
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 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.
The Chamber supports review of the City Charter, including but not limited to, the following:
- Springfield City Charter currently sets the mayoral term at two years, compared to the councilmember terms of four years. The Chamber supports extending the mayoral term to four years.
- The Chamber supports clarifying the City Charter residency requirements for City Council candidates, as well as provisions to allow the City Clerk to verify their eligibility.
- The Chamber supports clarifying and updating the conflict-of-interest provisions in the charter regarding elected officials, city staff and direct and indirect city contracts.
- The Chamber supports exploring financial compensation for City Council and the Mayor.
Growth and Development Advisory Council - This board-appointed works to ensure representative voices from the private sector development community are regularly meeting with top leadership from regulatory entities in order to create an exceptional reputation for developing and building in our community.
Local Issues Task Force - This board-appointed committee assists the Board of Directors in establishing policy positions on local issues.
Education Task Force - This board-appointed committee assists with the Chamber’s education process about candidates for the Springfield R-12 Board of Education.