By Mike McDorman
President & CEO, The Chamber of Greater Springfield
The Chamber recently held its annual meeting that featured this year’s “Dream Big” theme for the Greater Springfield Community, “Growing Greater Together!”
This past year the Chamber continued to stand in the gap and take on area challenges while seeking to help innovate and build a better sense of place for area businesses, and our great community. The Chamber’s mission is at work every day to help business thrive by advancing important economic and workforce development opportunities, promoting ideas that will make our region more progressive, and helping businesses connect with each other and the broader community. That is why we have launched a new Chamber website (GreaterSpringfield.com) that includes an online university called SMALLBIZU that can help Chamber members better solve problems, meet challenges and create valued products for their business or organization.
The horizon looks bright for this area as we have come together as a group of community stakeholders to set a strong vision for our future. We have been working on that vision for several years now, and we are seeing the fruit of our labor. The community vision plan known as Greater Springfield Moving Forward has helped bring more than $30M to important community initiatives in the four key areas of Jobs & Jobs Readiness, Parks & Greenspace, Downtown Revitalization and Gateways & Corridors.
The Chamber, along with these key community stakeholders, figured out a long time ago that we cannot do this work alone. It will take all of us acting as philanthropists and quality of life ambassadors if we are going to be successful. Yes, what I am saying is, it will take all of us investing our time, talents and treasures in these strategic areas and believing in this place for Greater Springfield to move forward!
World renowned economic and workforce development expert Mark Lautman told a group of community leaders on a recent visit that we will grossly underestimate what it will take to move our community forward. As we continue down the road of turning our community around and building a better sense of place for area businesses and their employees to operate and live in, we must continue to work together on the priority initiatives that will help take us there.
In 2017 and beyond The Chamber will be pushing forward priority initiatives which will include:
Continue work on goals and objectives associated with the four pillars of Greater Springfield Moving Forward.Work with the City of Springfield to help pass a temporary income tax increase to allow them some time to address their budgetary challenges, while charting a better course for the City’s future.Work on downtown incentives for redevelopment of abandoned or underutilized properties to help attract and sustain residential, commercial and retail opportunities.Work on a Parking Improvement Plan and Parking Structure Plan for downtown Springfield.Work on implementation of necessary upgrades related to the I-70/72 interchange highway widening project, South Limestone Street Corridor Plan and for new developments South of I-70.Develop incentives for home buyers and homeowners located within the City limits to help repopulate and rebuild struggling neighborhoods.Make strategic investments in key elements of the Sports Tourism Plan to be released soon that could help draw thousands of visitors to our community each year.
As Mark Lautman explained to us, we have more than an uphill battle if we continue to do community development the way we have always done it. We will need to change on a dime if we are going to be successful. Our competition only gets stronger every day, so we will need to believe we have a significant level of influence over our destiny and take bold steps that will help our community jump the curve to change our trajectory towards a brighter future.
Over the next 10 years, we must jump the curve as a community and accomplish many of the items mentioned above for us to be successful. It will take all of us to get into the same boat and lead together, work together, and move forward together!
Remember, we will grossly underestimate what it will take! So, let’s Dream Big! And Grow Greater Together!