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Springfield's DNA Rooted in Collaboration (Sponsor Letter)

SBJ Economic Growth Survey: Silver Linings

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Growing up on my grandparents’ farm and graduating from Ozark High School and Evangel University, I had no way of really understanding how special the greater Springfield business community was.

My career took me from staff consultant at BKD LLP to a legislative analyst for the governor of North Dakota to adjunct business professor in Saudi Arabia – all while investing in real estate with my family. Then, my father told me he planned to start his exit plan from the business, so I either needed to work in the business or be prepared to leave it. I decided to go all in, and I’m so thankful I did.

Although I have business interests throughout the Midwest and some abroad, I choose Springfield, Missouri, as my home. Personally, I knew it would be a great place to raise our daughters. That much I knew from experience.

But what I’ve since learned is most unique about the Springfield business community is its collaborative nature. While we don’t all agree all the time – far from it actually – we are willing to come together to find common ground. I believe this is the single-most critical factor to our resiliency. The fact we can lean on one another in difficult times not only offers comfort through the rough patches but also can give us all hope for the long haul.

We have rebounded from a devastating local unemployment rate of 9.2% in April to 3.4% in September, which is back to our local pre-pandemic levels. This is a stronger recovery than Missouri, at 4.9%, and nationally still lagging at 7.9% as of September.

This is in part due to a diverse economy and employment base, which offers us some insulation from broader economic fluctuations. But I also think it is a sign of our collaborative nature.

Springfield’s DNA is firmly rooted in cooperation and compromise. Right now, we see it clearly between our two competing major hospital systems that are working closely along with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and other city officials to provide full and adaptable health care and safety plan for our region.

We saw multiple nonprofit organizations work together to safely house our most vulnerable population, the homeless. And when more people found themselves in need of assistance, numerous nonprofits and churches increased food bank operations through the support of our neighbors who could help.

The state’s largest school district, Springfield Public Schools, stepped up not only for our own 25,000 local students but also for virtual students statewide providing education to more than 100,000 daily.

Our financial institutions worked long and arduous hours to help their clients secure Paycheck Protection Program funding. And Greene County diligently worked to distribute Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds expeditiously and fairly.

While we all have had moments where we stumbled along the way in 2020, our collective community perseveres constantly assessing public health risks and economic pitfalls. Not all solutions have been perfect. How could they be under such imperfect circumstances? But I always know the people of Springfield will be here to support each other and stubbornly persist for the betterment of all, and for that, I thank you!

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