News Flash

Economic Vitality News

Posted on: March 27, 2023

City awarded $3.7 million grant from Missouri Department of Economic Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The City of Springfield has been awarded a $3.7 million Community Revitalization Grant by the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED). The program, funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), is focused on investing in communities of all sizes to support local priorities, encourage economic recovery, and build resilience for the future.  City Council will consider a measure to formally accept the funds at an upcoming meeting.

The grant will be used to fund the most publicly visible and accessible segment of the Renew Jordan Creek project, just north of Park Central Square, to provide an interactive waterfront plaza between the West Meadows, City Utilities Transit Transfer Station (300 Block of N. Main Avenue) and Missouri State IDEA Commons (300 Block of N. Boonville Avenue). The project is in the geographic center of the city bordered by urban neighborhoods, major civic facilities, downtown loft/business/entertainment districts and within 10-20 minutes travel for nearly all Springfieldians.

The project qualifies as a neighborhood revitalization effort because it is located in ARPA Low Income Qualifying Census Tracts distinguished by low-income households and higher-than-state-average poverty rates. These economically distressed areas will benefit from the change in social momentum brought about by the proposed quality of life improvements such as greenway trail connections, pedestrian facilities, and urban greenspaces. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that currently only 28% of Springfield residents live within half a mile of a park. Having walkable access to the Renew Jordan Creek park amenities will encourage physical activity, improve health, reduce traffic congestion and air pollution from cars.

A key feature of the Renew Jordan Creek Project is to provide a critical greenway trail connection to fulfill the vision for Jordan Valley, providing connectivity for the Jordan Creek and Wilsons Creek Greenway trails system.

“Renew Jordan Creek will offer recreational amenities for exercise, mental health, less time driving, and more time spent outdoors tossing a Frisbee, dipping toes in the stream, picnicking and enjoying time with family and friends, all close to home and budget friendly (free),” the City wrote in the application. New private investment will increase job opportunities in walking distance for low-income neighborhoods.

The project is also surrounded by those hardest hit by the COVID 19 pandemic, due to inherent and pre-existing income, health and housing insecurities exacerbated by economic and social limitations imposed by the pandemic. Downtown businesses, particularly entertainment and hospitality, suffered. For nearly two years theaters were shuttered, hotel rooms empty, food and drink establishments adapted and made use of COVID relief as best they could, yet some were forced to close.

Immediate benefit will target thousands of low-income and underserved residents and workforce in a half mile radius. Outreach will be provided through all stages of the project targeted to the low-income residents and the small businesses and workforce in close proximity. Multiple two-way communication will be used to incorporate their ideas into final design elements, invite them to celebrations, free events and involve them in subsequent redevelopment planning on catalyst sites. New job opportunities, project updates and invitations to free events will be communicated to beneficiaries first.

“The project is also in close proximity to the Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC) facility, located on Boonville Avenue. The JVIC facility is operated by Missouri State University, which also operates the nearby “efactory,” a co-work business resource center that provides office space for start-ups. The e-factory and JVIC facilities support approximately 50 companies with over 200 employees which contribute to the economic and small business innovation for Springfield and the Ozarks region, as a whole,” said Mayor Ken McClure. “In addition to supporting identified economic catalyst sites and existing small business entities, the Renew Jordan Creek Project will contribute heavily to quality of place and quality of life benefits for this socioeconomically distressed area of Springfield.”

The Grant Avenue Parkway (GAP) will connect via multimodal transportation to renew Jordan Creek's west end and is currently under construction, funded by a $21 million BUILD Grant connecting downtown and the Bass Pro Shops flagship store and Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. The Grant Avenue Parkway crosses the Jordan Creek and intersects the greenway trail connection that will be made, linking these two popular destinations through an enjoyable travel experience. The City owns the key properties in the project area including 351 N. Boonville Avenue, 319 N Main Avenue Parking Lot, 320 N Main, and the parking lots in between.

The City will track short-term and long-term success of the project and results will be reported to DED. The goal of the project is to support business recovery and growth, improve health and well-being through connections to the outdoors, alternative transportation, and do so along the landscaped amenity-rich naturalized stream channel. The Downtown Springfield Association and Community Improvement District (CID) will help track business impacts. 

“This program will have a real, positive impact for Missouri communities while supporting our state’s economy today and in the future,” said Maggie Kost, Acting Director of the Department of Economic Development, about the grant program. “Thriving communities mean a thriving economy and more opportunities for Missourians to prosper. We’re grateful to help achieve that through strategic investments in local areas that need support the most.”

Community revitalization is only one of the many benefits of the Renew Jordan Creek project, said project manager Kirkland Preston. The project area consists of two large blocks in the urbanized center of Jordan Valley Park, bordered on the east by Boonville Avenue, Water Street on the south, Main Avenue on the west, and Mill Street and the railway on the north. Future phases of the the project are also planned to include Founders Park and the property at 404 North Jefferson Avenue. The overall project goals include flood reduction and water quality improvements, in addition to pedestrian and connectivity enhancements, sustainable greenspaces integration, comfort and safety improvements and sense of place development.

“As the first piece of a larger project that will protect existing buildings from the base flood, Renew Jordan Creek must be a functional space that conveys flood flows to reduce existing flood issues,” Preston said. “The design of the urban amenity must also be conscious of existing water quality issues and provide solutions to reduce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.”

Details on recipients of the Community Revitalization Grant Program are available here.

# # #

For more information, contact Cora Scott at 417-380-3352 or [email protected].

 

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Economic Vitality News

Restore SGF names board of directors

Posted on: January 11, 2023