FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE More than 300 attendees gathered to hear Mayor Bob Stephens share his views this morning about the state of Springfield during the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s Good Morning Springfield! at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center (e-Plex). Mayor Stephens said that the future for Springfield and those who live here continues to be bright. “… Our city is strong and getting stronger. We are the third-largest city in the state. It’s time we took our rightful place in influencing state decisions,” he said. Mayor Stephens said his biggest surprise since becoming mayor has been the number of people in the community who are working in some way to make Springfield better. “ … It might be a young husband and wife who are leading a Boy Scout troop and brought that troop to a City Council meeting; it might be the lady who is president of one of the west side neighborhood associations – a neighborhood association that hosts a weekly food bank for their neighbors who don’t have enough food, rather than planning parties and picnics …” he said. This past year has been full of successes and complete with challenges, he added. “In late May, we completed nine “Community Listen” meetings in neighborhoods in Springfield’s northwest quadrant. I want to give a huge shout-out to Zone 1 Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson for co-hosting and leading these events, along with the City Manager and director of Public Information and Civic Engagement. A number of my Council colleagues and City department heads attended these sessions and are working to develop solutions,” he said. In the area of economic development, public-private partnerships and private development have really accelerated this year, Mayor Stephens said. “The renovation and next month’s reopening of Heer’s will signify that downtown Springfield is once again a complete and viable driver,” he said. He cited the reopenings of The [email protected], (formerly the McDaniel Building) Sky Eleven, (formerly the Woodruff Building) The Frisco, (formerly the Landmark Building) Hotel Vandivort (formerly the Vandivort Center) and the Sterling Hotel as examples of downtown Springfield’s renaissance. Other examples of new development and redevelopment in Springfield include the new Walmart Neighborhood Market at Campbell and Grand, two new Menards, the former Sheraton Hotel south of Friendly Ford on south Glenstone and a new 102-home subdivision – marking the first large-scale, single-family residential development in the city limits of Springfield since before the recession, he said. Stephens thanked Planning & Development Director Mary Lilly Smith and her staff, and Building Development Services Director Chris Straw and his staff for their work on the various projects. “… With all the development going on right now, they are certainly working at warp speed,” he said. In other good news for Springfield, Mayor Stephens mentioned the School of Pharmacy at the University of Missouri at Kansas City opening a campus in Springfield in fall 2014, and the governor committing $10 million in state funds for expansion of the University of Missouri Medical School in Springfield, with partners CoxHealth and Mercy serving as clinical campuses. A new occupational therapy program will arrive next month on Missouri State University’s campus, and at CoxSouth, the new Dee Ann White Women’s and Children’s Hospital, along with the Jared Neuroscience wing, recently opened. Mayor Stephens also mentioned the economic impact of the Springfield-Branson National Airport to the area and the new service to Charlotte, North Carolina starting this year. “Total passenger count increased 12 percent over 2013 – even in the face of other regional airports offering some lower fares from time to time,” he said. Mayor Stephens added that the General Aviation facility will be where the future growth of the airport will be and that airport staff have done a masterful job of preparing for that. Regarding challenges for the City, Mayor Stephens cited the Big Three issues identified by the Joint City-County Planning Task Force: unfunded environmental mandates, law enforcement and the criminal justice system and the financial stability of the City and county. He showed an animation to illustrate the concept of constraint management in Springfield’s criminal justice system. Mayor Stephens said he believes the future holds even more development activities around the throughout the City, and that he thinks it’s time to begin a new conversation about annexing sections of residential real estate. “There are a lot of folks who live on the perimeter of the city who are ‘of Springfield,’ but not ‘in Springfield.’ They work in Springfield, they shop in Springfield, but have no voice in Springfield. Perhaps it’s time to talk about including them,” he said. A large portion of the address was dedicated to explaining the challenges of the criminal justice system and the need to work together to find a solution. Mayor Stephens concluded the 2015 State of the City address by saying Springfield is growing, changing, developing, redeveloping, renovating and moving from a large small town to a small city. “Our work will continue,” he said. “May Springfield live long and prosper.” ### • View the full video of Mayor Stephens’ speech.
• Download a transcript of Mayor Stephens’ speech (pdf).
• Download the State of the City 2015 slideshow (pdf). For more information, contact: Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, 417-864-1009 (office) | 417-380-3352 (cell), [email protected]