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Posted on: May 9, 2018

City celebrates National Economic Development Week with several announcements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


The City of Springfield is celebrating National Economic Development Week this week by announcing two grants from the Environmental Protection Agency and redevelopment incentives for Kearney Street and the Route 66 corridor. The announcements, along with a proclamation by Mayor Ken McClure, were made at a 10 a.m. news conference held at the DoubleTree Hotel at Kearney Street and Glenstone Avenue.

  

“Springfield owes a debt of gratitude to the economic development professionals in our community who work tirelessly to attract and retain well-paying jobs, support new and existing businesses, facilitate growth and provide a stable tax base to fund essential government functions,” McClure said. “Economic development is an essential ingredient to a community’s quality of life.”

  

$200,000 EPA grant to continue Missouri Job Center’s Green for Greene job training program 

 On May 7, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the awards for the FY2018 Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) Program. The Missouri Job Center will receive $200,000 over three years to continue the Green for Greene program, which began in 2016 with an initial $200,000 EWDJT grant.

  

The grant is part of a $3.3 million grant package being distributed to 17 organizations nationwide.

  

Green for Greene recruits, trains and places individuals in full-time, sustainable, green jobs in a range of environmental fields. Since 2016, the program has provided training for more than 50 participants as well as résumé and interview preparation, career clothing assistance, soft skills training and budgeting. Nineteen graduates gained employment in the environmental field with an average hourly wage of $14.18 per hour. Two trainees chose to continue their education.

  

“We congratulate the city of Springfield for their continued success in our Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training program and look forward to the next graduating class of Springfield environmental specialists,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford.

  

The City of Springfield has a history of partnership with the EPA, including the City’s Brownfields Program, which works to assess, clean up and facilitate private development of potentially contaminated properties within the city of Springfield.

  

“We are pleased that the EPA recognizes the importance of the work the Missouri Job Center and its partner employers are doing to train Springfield’s workforce in ‘green’ jobs,” said City Manager Greg Burris. “This grant is a key component to addressing unemployment and under-employment in Springfield, while continuing to build a workforce that can reclaim and revitalize environmentally challenged properties. A grant like this is a double win — skilling up our future workforce in a way that will benefit our environment.”

  

Specific training certifications chosen for the 2019 program are: OSHA HAZWOPER; OSHA 10; Silica; Trenching and Excavation; Confined Space; Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting; Lead Abatement Worker; Asbestos Worker/Handler; Flagger; Bloodborne Pathogens; Forklift Driver; First Aid/CPR; and Mold Abatement.

  

While Springfield’s Zone 1 residents are given priority admission, it’s not a requirement to live in Zone 1 to participate in the program.

  

“Green for Greene is a win-win for all involved. Not only do our graduates receive training to make them qualified employees for employers, but the jobs they receive help restore and revitalize the community that they live in,” said Senior Workforce Development Specialist Isaac Weber, who manages the program. “Our graduates are a testament that this five-week training for in-demand certifications and licenses can change lives by providing sustainable-wage jobs.”

 

Recruitment for qualified applicants will begin in the fall for 2019 classes. Those interested in the program can contact Weber at 417-841-3361 or iweber@springfieldmo.gov for more information. Additional information is available at facebook.com/GreenforGreene. Weber says he hopes to enroll 50 participants in the program for 2019.

  

Key partners in the Missouri Job Center’s implementation of the grant include Community Partnership for the Ozarks; Drew Lewis Foundation@The Fairbanks; the Neighborhood Advisory Council; Bryan University; Region Think; Carpenters Training Center; Environmental Works, Inc.; Gerken Environmental; Heavy Construction Laborers; Preferred Family Healthcare; Sun Solar; Sunbelt Environmental Services; Southwest Missouri Safety Company; and Ozark Region Workforce Development Board.

  

For more information about the Green for Greene grant, please Isaac Weber, 417-841-3361 or iweber@springfieldmo.gov.

  

Economic Development Office staff present Kearney Street Redevelopment Plan to LCRA May 1  

 Staff from the City of Springfield’s Economic Development department presented their plan for the blight report and redevelopment of Kearney Street between Kansas Expressway and Glenstone Avenue to the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority meeting May 1. The plan will ultimately go before City Council for final approval

  

“The purpose of this plan is to have the Kearney Street corridor primed for redevelopment,” said Economic Development Director Sarah Kerner. “We want to streamline the incentive process to get developers interested in this part of town.”

The plan, designed to spur investment along the corridor, will:

 

  • allow property owners who build, expand, or renovate along the corridor to in accordance with the redevelopment plan, to be eligible for 10 years of property tax savings
  •  offer a simplified application process
  •  result in current properties becoming more marketable to incentivize reinvestment
  •  encourage new retail sales tax revenues
  •  encourage job creation for nearby neighborhood residents and provide amenities
  •  maintain existing property tax revenues
  •  over time, increase property taxes to the area.

  

If approved by the five-member LCRA, the plan will go before the Planning and Zoning Commission for its recommendation, then on to City Council as a two-reading bill with a public hearing this summer. If the plan is approved, property owners who build or remodel properties along Kearney Street in a way that meets the plan’s requirements may apply to the LCRA for 10 years of property tax abatement in the value of the new improvements.

  

The City held two public meetings in August and September 2017 about the redevelopment of Kearney Street.

 

The focus of the first public meeting, held Aug. 24, 2017, was to inform Kearney Street stakeholders about the results of the Kearney Street Corridor Study by consultant PGAV Planners and the benefits of the proposed incentives for redevelopment, as well as to gather public input regarding the types of projects that should receive incentives. View summary of public input meeting 1.

 

At the second meeting, held Sept. 25, 2017, City staff presented a draft of the plan to the stakeholders. View summary of public input meeting 2.

  

Zone 1 Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson, a longtime Kearney Street proponent, and Zone 2 Councilman Tom Prater led the meetings.

 

Among the key findings in the Kearney Street Corridor Study is that the corridor has the potential to capture additional retail sales from the available $95 million in unmet household demand in the trade area around Kearney Street.

 

PGAV recommended the development of a deep value clothing retailer such as T.J. Maxx or Ross because these discounted fashion chains have had growing sales and are opening hundreds of stores while they capture market share from flagging department stores.

 

Another recommendation is a food hall that would serve as a business incubator for entrepreneurs and provide a place for people to enjoy a variety of prepared foods in a social setting. Food halls have been a growing trend in urban redevelopment, filling in empty big box stores or vacant department stores. Other ideas for the food and beverage sector include a food truck court and the adapted reuse of garages or gas stations into restaurants.

 

To improve the corridor’s visual appeal and increase safety for pedestrians, PGAV recommended painted pedestrian crosswalks, pedestrian crossing signals and tree plantings in center medians or along sidewalks. Crosswalks could also increase residential connectivity to Doling Park, which is a major asset for the area. Wayfinding signage directing visitors and residents to Doling Park was proposed as well.

 

PGAV suggested that the City commemorate the corridor’s heritage through Historic Route 66 plaques and branding as well as capitalizing on the nostalgia for cruising, custom cars and drive-in restaurants.

For more information about the Kearney Street Redevelopment Plan, please contact Economic Development Director Sarah Kerner at 417-864-1035 or skerner@springfieldmo.gov.

 

$300,000 EPA brownfields grant to incentivize redevelopment along Kearney Street, Route 66 corridor and center city

 The Environmental Protection Agency announced April 25 that City of Springfield will receive $300,000 in brownfields assessment grants. The grant funds will be used to conduct 30 environmental site assessments, and develop 10 cleanup plans. The funds will also be used to conduct community meetings to engage the surrounding community about the project. The assessment activities will focus on Historic Route 66 and the Kearney Street corridor.

  

“This grant will be the key to revitalizing Springfield’s most complicated properties. Oftentimes, redevelopment of these properties would not proceed but for the first brownfields dollars used to assess environmental conditions,” said Senior Planner and Brownfields Coordinator Olivia Hough. “Assessments will focus on priority sites along Kearney Street/Historic Route 66, in northwest Springfield, and the center city. Oftentimes, these projects would not proceed but for the first Brownfields dollars used to assess environmental conditions. Assessments will help us identify and remove lead contamination and other hazards in structures and soils to protect our most vulnerable populations, create jobs for job training graduates, and lead to leveraged investment like the $400 million achieved with our last Brownfields Assessment Grant.”

  

“We congratulate the city of Springfield and applaud their continued commitment to the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield properties throughout their community,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “We’re proud to support this cleanup effort and look forward to the positive environmental and economic impacts to come.”

  

For more information about the brownfields grant, please contact Senior Planner/Brownfields Coordinator Olivia Hough at 417-864-1092 or ohough@springfieldmo.gov.

 

10 census tracts in Springfield designated Opportunity zones

 The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) in April announced the locations of 161 “Opportunity Zones” in Missouri – low-income areas that will see added incentives for investment – including zones in downtown, central and north Springfield.

  

The locations of the Opportunity Zones in Springfield, which include 10 census tracts, were determined by the state, and made possible by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The Opportunity Zone program incentivizes private investment in projects such as new and expanding businesses, infrastructure, real estate and housing located within the approved census tracts. Opportunity Zone investors receive capital-gains tax deferral and other tax incentives. The program seeks to revitalize communities and create jobs in areas that otherwise may not be considered by investors.

  

“The Opportunity Zones program will help spur new investments in communities where they’re needed most. By bringing investment incentives to underserved areas, the program will help create more jobs, drive economic growth, and improve the quality of life for families across our state. The Opportunity Zones program is another example of how tax reform is directly benefitting Missourians, and turning the page on years of slow growth and stagnant wages. I’m proud to support this program … ,” stated Sen. Roy Blunt, in a release from the governor's office.

  

To determine which zones were nominated, the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) relied extensively on local input. Local governments were asked to nominate areas for inclusion in the program by sending written proposals.

  

In February, Springfield City Council approved a request for 15 census tracts in Springfield to be nominated. The application to DED included information about anticipated developments in the area, and descriptions of recent and future investments. In addition to local recommendations, the state considered the Opportunity Zone’s potential to address need and generate investment impact.

  

“Because the greatest tax benefit to investors results from a long-term investment (seven years or longer) and the zone designation is only valid for 10 years, the most effective way to attract new private investment to our community using this program is to designate tracts where investment is anticipated within the next one to three years,” said City of Springfield Economic Development Director Sarah Kerner.

  

Under the law, each state could nominate up to 25 percent of census tracts that met the eligibility requirements for the program, to be designated by the Secretary of the Treasury. In Missouri, the state could nominate up to 161 census tracks to be designated as Opportunity Zones.

 

In addition to Springfield, Opportunity Zones are located in Bolivar, Branson, Butler County, Cameron, Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Dallas County, Excelsior Springs, Hannibal, Independence, Jackson County, Jefferson City, Jennings, Joplin, Kansas City, Kennett, Kirksville, Laclede County, Lafayette County, Lebanon, Maryville, Mexico, Monett, Montgomery County, Neosho, New Madrid County, Newton County, Pemiscot County, Potosi, Pulaski County, Randolph County, Ripley County, Saline County, Sikeston, Springfield, St. Joseph, St. Louis, St. Louis County, Sugar Creek, Sullivan County, Sunrise Beach, Warren County, Warrensburg, Warsaw, Wayne County, and West Plains. For a full list of Missouri’s opportunity zones, click here.

   

North Springfield Opportunity Zone:

  Starting at corner of North Farm Road 103 and West Farm Road 94, east on West Farm Road 94, which turns into West Farm Road 92 where it crosses Highway 13, then following the South Dry Sac River to State Highway H, South on Highway H to Interstate Highway 44; West on Interstate 44 to U.S. Highway 65; south on Highway 65 to East Chestnut Expressway; west on Chestnut to North Glenstone Avenue; north on Glenstone to East Kearney Street; west on Kearney to North West Bypass; south on West Bypass to West Chestnut Expressway; west on Chestnut to North Airport Boulevard which turns into State Highway EE; North on Highway EE to North Farm Road 103 to West Farm Road 94.

  

Downtown Springfield Opportunity Zone:

Starting at the intersection of North Broadway Avenue and the BNSF rail line just north of Commercial Street, east along BNSF rail line to North National Avenue, south on National to East Trafficway Street, west on Trafficway to John Q. Hammons Parkway, south on Hammons to East Cherry Street, west on Cherry to South Jefferson Avenue, south on Jefferson to East Harrison Street, west on Harrison to South Avenue, north on South to West Mt. Vernon Street, west on Mt. Vernon to South Grant Avenue, north on Grant to West College Street, west on College to North Kansas Expressway, north on Kansas to the BNSF rail line just north of West Water Street, east along BNSF rail line to North Fort Avenue, north on Fort to West Phelps Street, east on Phelps to North Weaver Avenue, north on Weaver to West Chestnut Expressway, east on Chestnut to North Broadway Avenue, north on Broadway to BNSF rail line just north of West Commercial Street.

   

Central Springfield Opportunity Zone:

Starting at corner of South Kansas Expressway and West Sunshine Street, east on Sunshine to South National Avenue, south on National to East Sunset Street, west on Sunset to South Kansas Expressway, north on Kansas to West Sunshine Street.


For more information about Opportunity Zones, please contact Economic Development Director Sarah Kerner at 417-864-1035 or skerner@springfieldmo.gov.


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