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Posted on: August 12, 2021

New Economic Vitality Department to take proactive approach to helping businesses and entrepreneurs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The City of Springfield recognizes the vital role business and industry serve within the community and southwest Missouri region. Retention of Springfield-based companies and fostering expansion of existing business serve as the foundation for a new department at the City of Springfield.  

Effective July 4, the City of Springfield’s Economic Development Office, formerly a division of the Department of Planning & Development, became its own department called the Economic Vitality Department. The department’s primary services are entrepreneurial development and support, business retention/tourism support and business expansion and attraction. Positions within the Economic Development Office were transferred to the Department of Economic Vitality. 

The Department of Economic Vitality will “focus on vibrancy and taking a proactive approach to helping businesses and entrepreneurs, which directly impacts our economic ecosystem," according to Deputy City Manager Maurice S. Jones. 

“The creation of this new department formally separates the City’s economic development function from the Department of Planning & Development,” said Jones, who oversees the new department. “The purpose in doing so is to eliminate any confusion regarding the facilitative and recruitment role of economic development from the Planning & Development Department’s regulatory role applied through local zoning laws.” 

Primary objectives are to encourage reinvestment and quality economic growth, coordinate significant development projects that impact the community’s tax base, retain and facilitate expansion of existing businesses, promote entrepreneurship, and attract new businesses by fostering a positive business environment. 

Creating and retaining quality jobs to increase the local tax base and the overall quality of life for the citizens of Springfield are also major emphases, Jones said.  

The new department works closely with the City’s quality of place initiatives and regional economic development partners to leverage resources and enable the City to be attractive to quality business investment, he added.

Tools in the department’s toolbox

Commercial Loan Program

The City has operated a commercial loan program since 1984, capitalized by the federal Community Development Block Grant program. All loans must create jobs benefiting low-to-moderate income persons or fund a project that improves property in areas Council has designated as exhibiting slum and blight conditions. The program is currently funded through revolving loan income and includes two products – the Business Development Loan Program for real estate purchase or rehab and the Micro-enterprise Loan Program/Business Incentive Loan Program for working capital, inventory, or equipment. 

Secret Sandwich owner Mack Musgrave became a full-time entrepreneur with the help of a business incentive loan through the City. Secret Sandwich started as a window in the back of Sweet Boy’s Bar, but is now a walk-up gourmet sandwich shop at 208 W. McDaniel.  

Brownfields Program

A $300,000 Brownfields Program remediation loan is helping facilitate the environmental cleanup and revitalization of the vacant eight-story historic Medical Arts Building at 430 South Avenue that most recently housed Great Southern Bank’s downtown location. This building is the largest remaining undeveloped property in downtown Springfield and is being renovated by O’Reilly Hospitality Management to house Marriott boutique hotel Moxy. 

The Brownfields Program works to assess, clean up, and facilitate the redevelopment and reuse of potentially contaminated properties known as "brownfields" within the city of Springfield. The program works in cooperation with Region 7 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The program provides incentives for qualifying properties, including free Phase I and Phase II environmental assessments, cleanup planning, technical assistance, and low-to-no interest loans and subgrants for site remediation. 

Special Taxing Districts

Pursuant to State law, the city may establish or approve the establishment of special districts that can impose special assessments and/or taxes to pay for public improvements or to eliminate blight. These districts require the cooperation of a majority of the property owners in the district. Taxing districts include  Community Improvement Districts (CID), Transportation Development Districts (TDD), and Neighborhood Improvement Districts (NID).

Property Tax Abatement

Tax abatement is offered through a variety of programs geared to blight remediation, private investment, and redevelopment. Typically, the development continues to pay taxes on land and improvements based on their value prior to the new investment. All or a portion of the incremental increase in property taxes is abated for a set period of time. These incentive programs include Chapter 99 (Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority), Chapter 100 (Industrial Development Bonds), Chapter 353 (Urban Redevelopment Corporation), or Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ).

3M’s 2017 facility expansion utilized the EEZ and Chapter 100 programs resulting in 90 new jobs at 150% of average county wage. 

Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
This tool is used when a project’s developer pays all taxes owed and a portion or all of the incremental increase in taxes resulting from development are captured and redirected to pay redevelopment project costs. Taxing jurisdictions continue to receive the taxes based on the pre-development value. A TIF may also capture new taxes imposed after the TIF is approved. 

A TIF has been in place on Historic Commercial Street since 2008 and the increment generated from the increase in property values since that time has been used to finance public projects such as road improvements, lighting and aesthetic improvements to alleyways connecting to public parking lots, parking improvements, and other public projects. 

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For more information, please contact Melissa Haase at 417-536-7648 or [email protected]

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