Reports and Documents
Springfield is a community where we live and play, but like all cities, it exists primarily as a center for economic activity where citizens have businesses and jobs. It is the economic activity that makes the living and playing possible. The City’s Planning and Development Department is responsible for directly supporting economic development and activity. The four main areas of focus are: business attraction and retention; business incentives; downtown revitalization; and the land development process.
Through the Economic Development Office, the department is in the forefront of the City's economic development activities, working closely with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and City Utilities to attract and retain businesses that provide quality jobs and improve the tax base. We work closely with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce on business attraction and retention. Bringing new businesses into the community is important because they can increase the diversity of the local economy.
The City offers incentives to targeted industries making a new investment in the community. These incentives typically take the form of partial real property tax abatement and are available to new and expanding businesses. The City has been a leader in encouraging the revitalization of our center city business districts.
Our Small Business Loan Program provides funding to acquire and rehabilitate center city business buildings while the Business Incentive Program assists small businesses create jobs in targeted areas. Over its 30-year history, these programs have been used to stabilize many downtown buildings that could have fallen into major disrepair and been torn down. Retaining the historic buildings is important to creating a sense of place in the center city that contributes to the economic activity.
The land development process has a significant impact on where and how economic activity occurs. The challenge is to provide as much opportunity as possible for people to engage in economic activity. Economic activity has the potential to occur anywhere in the community 24 hours a day. It can be something as simple as pulling out a smartphone to respond to a business email at home. However, technological advances now allow a person to manage a large-scale enterprise without ever leaving home.
There are also evolving societal desires for more integrated living and working environments. These changes begin to create a blur between the live and work space that reflects a return to an earlier time when the home was much more of a center of economic activity and the entire family participated. This has the potential to create tensions because development patterns over the last 75 to 100 years have created a distinct separation between where we live and work. We have been working on a new initiative to encourage development of live/work districts that are residential in character and where business owners can have their business as part of their residence.
The two areas of the city where we are currently working to establish these districts are the West College Street corridor and the Moon City Creative District. A significant advantage is that a live/work unit can reduce the costs of the business owner by being able to live and work at one location. This concept is not totally new to Springfield. People have live/work units on Commercial Street and Walnut Street, but this expansion in appropriate areas will potentially increase the chances of success of the businesses and maintenance of the buildings.
The City’s Planning and Development Department continues to evolve its programs and services to best meet the needs of existing and potential businesses as the economy evolves.