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Council seeks task force input on industrial park

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Editor's note: In a Jan. 13 statement, Mayor Lee Gannaway announced the formation of a task force to address questions and issues related to City Council's consideration of a resolution regarding the city's involvement in a second industrial park. In light of this issue's potential importance to the development community, the mayor's appointments, and comments to the appointees, are restated below in full.

In response to the direction of City Council, at our meeting on Dec. 14, 1998, I have asked representatives of the various entities which would be directly involved in a second industrial park (if such should be built in the future), and representatives of the various areas of concern, as expressed at our council meeting on the 14th, to serve on a task force for the purpose of discussing the issues raised at that meeting and to provide an opportunity for such further public input as the task force may deem appropriate.

The following persons have agreed to serve on the task force:

Nikki Sells, chairman of the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce and also a member of the Springfield Business and Development Corporation.

Bill Reser, chairman of the Board of [Public] Utilities.

Tom Singleton, a local manufacturer.

Gary Keltner, member of the Springfield R-12 School Board.

Don Martin Sr., an owner and developer of industrial property in the private sector.

Dr. Norman Myers, president of Ozarks Technical Community College.

Lloyd Young, chair of the Good Community which is deserving of representation at any table where matters affecting the future and well-being of the community are being considered.

Jack Gentry, as a representative of international manufacturers and as an owner of industrial property in the center city industrial area.

Edward H. Matthews, head of the department of technology at Southwest Missouri State University.

Kirk Heyle, a real estate broker involved in the sale of industrial properties.

In addition, five members of City Council will be participating with the task force: Tom Carlson, Teri Hacker, Russell Rhodes, Bob Vanaman and Shelia Wright.

I have asked Dr. Norman Myers to chair the task force, and he has generally agreed to assume those responsibilities.

The charge which we have prepared for the task force is as follows:

Charge to task force regarding Resolution 98-449.

As you are aware, a resolution is ... pending before City Council regarding the development of real estate, by the Springfield Business and Development Corporation (SBDC), designed to attract new industry to our city. The immediate financial impact of the resolution is its commitment to build the streets, sewers and stormwater drainage or retention, as may be required in the new industrial site(s). It is anticipated that the cost incurred by the city would eventually be recovered in the sale of lots. No interest would be paid to the city on its investment per the requirement by the lenders who are providing the funds to the SBDC, which will purchase, own and sell the lots.

In considering the resolution ... some questions have arisen which, although perhaps not capable of being answered in a totally unequivocal manner, should, at the very least, be freely and openly discussed. It is the consensus of the City Council that some questions raised by the resolution are in need of suggested answers and/or opinions from persons who are, to a greater degree, more qualified than we, as council members, to address. It is because of your qualifications (background, education, experience or involvement in the community or in industry or industrial property) that each of you have been selected to serve on this task force and, therefore, the opinions and advice which each of you may offer are both valued and desired.

In considering some questions, you will no doubt desire to conduct public hearings in order to gain the benefit of the public conscience in your deliberations. As a council, we encourage public input in all instances which are not, as a practical matter, more properly limited to the expertise of the membership of the task force.

Although the City Council feels that the questions attached hereto are important in our consideration of the pending resolution, there may be other questions which, in your wisdom, you feel should be addressed and which you believe would be important for us to equally consider. In this regard, we invite and encourage your thoughtful advice on such additional matters as you believe to be relevant to the resolution.

The council does not desire to "rush to judgment" on this subject and thereby have the general public, or any particular segment thereof, feel that they have not been afforded an adequate opportunity to be heard. Likewise, we do not wish to unnecessarily delay the ultimate disposition of the resolution. All of these things considered, we would respectfully request that you convene as quickly as reasonable, meet as frequently as you deem necessary, hold such public hearings on the questions you feel appropriate, and submit a written report to us by March 15, 1999.

Finally, let me say in advance that we greatly appreciate your willingness to contribute to your city and your fellow citizens in serving on this task force. It is the time you give, the dedication you possess, and the unselfish sharing of your talents, wisdom and experience which continue to make Springfield an outstanding place to live, to work and to simply enjoy with our respective friends, families and associates.

Questions.

With regard to the possible expenditure and/or investment of public funds by the city of Springfield in the development of a second industrial park, council is concerned about appropriate consideration and/or additional public discourse of the following:

1. Is the city doing an adequate job of assisting existing local industries in their efforts to attract qualified employees? If not, what are the parameters for future city involvement?

2. In order to avoid the continued problems associated with urban sprawl and the "doughnut effect," should the city consider assisting the owners of existing industrial tracts, which lie within traditional industrial areas (especially brownfields), and which can be made attractive and "market competitive" through either rehabilitation or by the construction or installation of infrastructure similar to that which exists in the present industrial park?

3. Should the city concentrate on growth from within, versus using additional land for industrial development, by making low or no interest loans to existing local industries who intend to use such funds for expansion or improvement of existing manufacturing facilities and which will result in a predetermined minimal number of additional jobs?

4. Should the need for a second industrial park be determined solely on the basis of declining available space in the first industrial park, or should the availability of a qualified work force, the availability of existing industrially zoned development land (not in an industrial park) and other factors, have equal consideration?

5. Should the city be proactive in assisting with the education and training of a work force, qualified to satisfy the requirements of local existing industries and, if so, what should be the parameters of that involvement?

6. Should our utility's measurement of satisfaction with an increased electrical load factor from the first industrial park be [its] primary criterion for investment in a second industrial park, or should the risk of losing electrical load to competition, as a consequence of deregulation, be considered? Can such risk be adequately quantified?

7. Should the second industrial park, if one is built, be restricted only to new industry desiring to locate in the city, and thereby discourage the abandonment and deterioration of existing industrial sites?

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