In an always vigilant effort to advance the interests of Joplin’s residents, businesses and nonprofit agencies and better discern the role the Chamber of Commerce can play in the life of Joplin, members of the Chamber board have banded together in recent months to formulate and institute a new Chamber Strategic Plan.
Much thought and discussion has gone into what Joplin needs at this point in its history and how the Chamber can contribute to economic growth. It was decided the goal should be to attract and maintain “young, diverse professionals who value a high quality of life, an active lifestyle and a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, while maintaining a keen sense of community,” said Tobias Teeter, President/CEO of the Chamber, in a recent LinkedIn article on attracting talent to Joplin.
“I’m witnessing a clear shift from business attraction to talent attraction (and retention) as the key economic development driver for the Joplin area. Increasingly, Joplin’s ability to attract and retain millennials and those in Generation Z (after the millennials) will decide our local economic fate,” Teeter also noted in the article.
“For many Millennials, second cities are becoming their first choice. Younger professionals are shunning larger cities and moving back to their hometowns in large numbers. They are attracted to lower cost of living, easier commutes and closer connections with family. They seek a neighborhood-oriented, livable version of the urban lifestyle that still offers viable career and entrepreneurial opportunities, burgeoning music and cultural venues, bike trails and walkable streets, and robust restaurant, coffee shop and bar scenes,” he added.
The group paid particular attention to delineating the Chamber’s role in building a better future for Joplin and decided that they should work to grow and service local businesses, improve livability in Joplin, attract both talent and new industries, and build and market the Joplin brand.
In addition, based on the vision casting of the Chamber Board and stakeholders, Chamber staff has built out and is revisiting its programming and resources that align with the original mission.
They also plan to increasingly reach out to local businesses and entrepreneurs through five dedicated work groups to discover how the Chamber can help their businesses grow and improve the livability of Joplin for them by championing investments for the future like an event center, the Cornell Art Complex, street beautifications and a unified innovation hub. In addition, there are plans for upgrading Chamber technologies and recruiting additional “under 40” professionals into the Chamber and its leadership team.
“The Joplin Chamber’s roles are shifting and going forward we are going to focus our resources on: (1) growing and servicing local businesses, (2) improving livability, (3) attracting both talent and new industry, and (4) building and marketing the Joplin brand,” Teeter noted.
“We will also lead a structural improvement to Joplin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through collaborations, combining capacities and programs to promote and provide workspaces, educational programs, mentor-ships, and networking opportunities as a unified ‘innovation hub’ where technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship will thrive,” he added.
“Joplin is a dynamic community with people who are proud of the city in which they work, live, and play,” added Kelli Perigo of Freeman Health System. “The Chamber’s strategic plan moves to spotlight the businesses, people, and assets in Joplin and the region. The Chamber staff and Board are excited to work through the strategic plan to support the future growth and prosperity in Joplin and the region.”
Jerrod Hogan, President of Anderson Engineering, agreed. “Joplin is an amazing place. We have incredible people, endless opportunities and great things are happening here. I am thrilled with the Chamber’s new strategic plan and areas of focus. The Chamber is honored to serve and support continued growth and prosperity in our region. We have a committed staff, an engaged board and the right leader for our next chapter. This is going to be a great year for Joplin and Joplin business!”
Building An Entrepreneurial EcosystemThrough a collaboration of the region’s business support systems, the Joplin area is poised to launch an innovation hub downtown. The goal: provide a structural improvement to Joplin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. By combining our capacities and programs as a joint partnership, we can promote and provide workspaces, educational programs and networking opportunities that will benefit small businesses and start-ups in a meaningful way. Our purpose is to unify our strengths and provide services where technology, innovation and entrepreneurship thrive.
This effort is driven by the collective resources of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation in partnership with the City of Joplin, Missouri Southern State University’s Small Business Development Center and the Downtown Joplin Alliance. Combined resources include three dedicated small business incubator facilities, educational workshops and seminars tailored to teach entrepreneurs how to start and sustain a business, networking and mentorship programs and a drive to see economic prosperity and diversity in the Joplin region. The educational opportunities will see a boost in applicability, accessibility and diversity to fit the needs of the changing entrepreneurial landscape in the nation.
Joplin is uniquely positioned on Missouri’s transit system to be useful to commerce, and a swelling daytime population makes it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs seeking to start a new business. Unfortunately, most resources are aimed elsewhere. This innovation hub hopes to change that. “There are many resources outside of the area to assist small business owners,” said Loni Smith, Director of Small Business Incubation for the Joplin Chamber. “We hope to fill that regional void. Our low cost of living is an obvious attraction but there is so much more to come in Joplin in the near future.”
Now is the time to get excited about entrepreneurship and the forces that have the ability to join together to make a brighter future for start-ups through mentoring, investing and a passion for change.