Vision 2022 makes final report

By Kaylin Schatzer

Although Vision 2022 may have presented its final report to Joplin City Council May 15, according to Clifford Wert, core team lead for the group, the work is far from over.

“It is a five year plan,” he said. “We are not expecting Rome to be built overnight, but there are opportunities to take some aggressive steps to get things done in the short run and to put into motion the plans that are necessary to accomplish the long run.”

The group originally set out to bring actionable, measurable, bold recommendations which will inspire growth to Joplin over the next five years. At an April 13 meeting, the group decided on approximately 25 recommendations taken from each of its six committees including governance; quality of life; healthy living/wellness; positive marketing and branding; job growth; and education. 

Vision 2022 breaks its recommendations into two categories; items which require no city financial expenditures needing resolutions, ordinances or statements of support; and those that require actions beyond resolutions or statements of support and may require city financial expenditures.

Resolutions, ordinances or statements of support

Seven suggestions were made by the group regarding issues that would not require financial support from the city. One, made by the governance committee, would involve constant positive customer service throughout the city. 

The Quality of Life: Arts and Entertainment Committee recommended support for the development of the Arts and Entertainment Center as well as the Missouri statutes known as the “Missouri Museum and Cultural District Act.”

Three health regulations were also recommended by the Quality of Life: Health and Wellness Committee. These include a collaborative Jasper and Newton Counties Prescription Drug Monitoring Program ordinance, local clean indoor air ordinance for businesses and “Tobacco 21,” which prohibits tobacco sales to anyone younger than 21.

Quality of Life: Destination Anchor Committee also asked the city to support a community lead effort to open a Children’s Discovery Center. 

Actions beyond resolutions or statements of support

The remainder of recommendations Vision 2022 proposed to city council needed some amount of commitment, financial or otherwise. Some recommendations come from a single committee while others come from a combination.

Two recommendations from Quality of Life: Trails and Connectivity suggested that the city should make trails the number one priority in transportation moving forward. This includes emphasizing trails when the parks and stormwater sales tax comes up for renewal in 2022.

Job growth was also tackled in the Vision 2022 recommendations and had its own committee. The committee recommended creating a city and chamber-based committee to support job growth, defining geographic districts based on the top five professional sectors and creating job growth incentives specific to those sectors. The suggested categories are professional/technical, health care, finance/insurance, manufacturing and transportation/warehousing.

The committee responsible for historic preservation also recommended two actions to the city. One is to support the revitalization of vacant buildings and streetscaping between 8th and 10th on Main Street. The other is to establish neighborhood improvement. Both could be supported by Community Development Block Grant funds.

The education committee recommended the city offer universal pre-school to children from 3-5 years old by establishing start-up and ongoing funding sources from new community development money generated by specific sales or use taxes. Several city council members voiced support for this suggestion.

Another recommendation was to create a constant positive identity for the City of Joplin. This was put forward by the positive marketing and branding committee. 

The governance committee focused on three different recommendations from its single group. These are to look for win-win results in boundary-expansion efforts, place emphasis on residential investment and to make Joplin the “city of choice” for investment.

The city council was interested in a recommendation to consider a use tax by the Governance Committee: Use Tax. Vision 2022 recommended that the city research the use tax option to supplement existing sales tax and educate citizens on the cost and benefits of such a tax. They also suggested the tax be put to vote no later than November 2018.

One of the most debated suggestions put forth by the joint efforts of the Governance Committee, Quality of Life: Destination Anchor and Healthy Living/Wellness Committees was the development of a multi-use indoor sports facility located near I-44 and I-49.

According to the Vision 2022 report, the Lodging Association’s willingness to initiate a dialogue to increase the current Lodging Tax by two percent, makes this recommendation one requiring quick action. The group also recommended delaying turf installation at Wendell Redden Field.

Wert said all of the recommendations are equally made with the betterment of Joplin in mind and provide the city with many opportunities for improvement.  

“Every committee brought forth passionate, important recommendations,” he said. “We definitely want to keep those on an equal playing field.”

Moving forward

The next step for 2022 representatives is to meet with Sam Anselm, city manager, to provide insite on which recommendations to move forward with first. Wert said the group will also be reaching out to the city council members for further discussion.

“We are very pleased that the mayor asked for the city manager to meet with us to prioritize the recommendations and we are looking forward to getting that accomplished in the very near term,” he said. “I also will be sending individual emails to each of the council members asking for an individual meeting. We want to continue the dialogue and to hear their concerns and support.”

The vision 2022 core members will be meeting again within 90 days to continue discussing the status of their recommendations. For Wert, the community and group member’s support has been a defining feature of Vision 2022 and it is important to continue encouraging that involvement. 

“I think we do need to talk about how we keep the committee members who volunteered their time engaged, informed and interested,” he said “We have to make sure we don’t lead to a perception that they gave their time for not. We have to honor their commitment and figure out ways for them to remain active.”

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