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From left: Matt Morrow, Jonas Arjes, Kristin Haseltine and Christine Temple
Rebecca Green | SBJ
From left: Matt Morrow, Jonas Arjes, Kristin Haseltine and Christine Temple

CEO Roundtable: Economic Development

Posted online

Each month, we gather around the table with a different group of Springfield business leaders to discuss industry trends, workforce and company operations. Join us as we get a behind-the-scenes look into our business community from the C-suite.

Springfield Business Journal Executive Editor Christine Temple discusses economic development with Jonas Arjes, executive vice president and chief economic development officer for the Taney County Partnership; Kristen Haseltine, president and CEO of Show Me Christian County; and Matt Morrow, president of Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

An excerpt from the start of the podcast follows.

Christine Temple: I wanted to talk first on the volume of projects that you guys are tracking right now in your communities and also, if you could, highlight some of the developments that are going on in your areas.
Matt Morrow: We’re working 26 active projects right now. That’s about normal for us. We won’t win all of them, but we all hope to win more than our region’s fair share as we try to hustle out there. Good projects. I think we’ll probably have a couple of announcements coming in the next month or two. There are needs for sites that are development ready, but we are seeing pretty good activity in Partnership Industrial Center West, which still has a few sites left, but there are a couple of letters of intent that we are actually working on right now.
Temple: Rough volume of the projects that you’re tracking right now?
Morrow: Total (capital expenditure) is $700 million or something like that. Job counts vary because they don’t all give them to us on the front end, but, typically speaking, I think the range is anywhere from 10 to 15 jobs up to a little over 200.
Temple: And what’s the mix of those?
Morrow: It’s mostly manufacturing, industrial and logistics. But we also work back-office operations and corporate headquarters, and IT – some of those as well. Typically, I’d say about three-quarters of the projects that we have going at any given time are industrial or manufacturing, advanced manufacturing.
Temple: I’ll stop grilling Matt for now.
Jonas Arjes: We are currently tracking 22 active projects. CapEx at $900 million, and two of those two projects make up basically two-thirds of that. So, the Imagine Resort in Hollister, that’s roughly $450 million. And then all the activity that’s currently going on out at Thunder Ridge Nature Arena. Everything encompassed with infrastructure improvements, that’s roughly $150 million investment down there. Ours is mostly lodging, tourism and attraction related. So, 14 out of the 22 are tourism related, six are housing projects and then one manufacturing wholesale and one infrastructure project. The job counts range anywhere from four to 450-plus. Pretty good activity. We’ve noticed that just over the last probably 12 to 18 months that project inquiries have slowed a little bit. Hopefully that’s not a trend that continues or gets worse.
Kristen Haseltine: In Christian County right now, we are tracking 17 projects, and four of them are actually site developments. So, that’s multiple businesses that would locate there. In addition, we have 13 businesses that we’re talking with that want to locate in Christian County, so we’re working on trying to get those sites developed so we can land them in Christian County. Those sites are anywhere from retail, hospitality to light manufacturing, hopefully business park, could be an industrial site, too. Lots of variety going on. Our smallest project I think is $1 million, and I think that’s only two jobs, but, again, we go all the way up to that industrial site that’s over 200 acres that we’re working on. Not all of our partners want to disclose the amount they’re investing, so I don’t have an exact amount, but it’s a wide range.
Temple: I just heard of a large commercial development coming across from Lowe’s and Walmart [in Ozark]. There are already five or six national retail tenants signed up for that and a hotel that’s going to go into that area.
Haseltine: We’ve been working with that project for several years now. Our developer hasn’t shared any of the public information about who’s locating there. I know he has letters of intent. That corner up there is our largest tax revenue in Christian County, so having a development across the way from it would just exacerbate that. It’s really important for our community.
Temple: Are you guys seeking out any particular kinds of developments, or what is seeking out this area right now?
Morrow: As you hear what each of the parts of the region have as their primary focus in economic development, you hear very complementary segments of the region and that is one of our real great advantages in terms of competing with other parts of the country. Our mix is more industrial and manufacturing. That’s really driven by the sort of specific advantages that the Springfield market has. And also it is driven by the fact that the partners that come together to help support this effort have vested interest in getting that done. For example, because we have a municipally owned utility in City Utilities, it’s good for ratepayers to have industrial heavy-load users here because they pay a higher rate and keep rates down for everybody else. While we primarily focus on those sort of core industrial, it doesn’t mean that we’re not interested in retail and restaurants and the pieces that really most of my family and everybody else are much more interested in when they talk to me about this. As anybody that works in this field knows, those are driven so much by metrics and formulas and algorithms that companies use. What we really want to try to do as much as anything is to try to drive the variables in those formulas for jobs, concentration of households, average income, those kinds of things so that we can all hopefully one day get Cheesecake Factories and everything like that.
Haseltine: And Trader Joe’s.
Morrow: Goes without saying.
Temple: You have to say that name any time you talk economic development.
Arjes: Somebody said the other day: My career will not be complete until I get a Trader Joe’s.
Morrow: We can all retire.

Excerpts by Editorial Intern Jillian Smith, intern@sbj.net.

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