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No. 4: Expedia expands, adds jobs

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Springfield’s employment scene got some welcome news in early August, when Bellevue, Wash.-based online travel company Expedia Inc. announced its intentions to bring 500 new jobs to Springfield to coincide with a move to larger space at the Springfield-Branson National Airport.

During a November ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the company’s presence in the airport’s former terminal building, 5000 W. Kearney St., local and state leaders, including Springfield Mayor Jim O’Neal and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, praised Expedia’s local growth, calling the move a leading economic indicator for the state.

Expedia signed its five-year lease for 59,000 square feet in the north end of the old Springfield-Branson National Airport terminal at a total annual lease rate of $450,760.

As of Nov. 18, Expedia already had filled 300 of the promised jobs, adding to the 270 employees who had already been in place at Expedia’s former location, 4124 S. McCann Court, according to Expedia Vice President Scott Weismiller.

State legislation signed by Nixon on July 8 encouraged Expedia to grow its Springfield presence. The bill exempts online travel companies such as Expedia from local hotel taxes since those companies don’t actually provide rooms. Other state incentives were $325,000 in recruitment assistance, $1.2 million in new jobs training funding and $5.8 million in Missouri Quality Jobs Program tax credits. In order to take advantage of the tax credits, Expedia must pay an average annual wage above Greene County’s average, which according to data from the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, is $33,924.

During the November ceremony, O’Neal pointed to bipartisan cooperation as a key factor in making Expedia’s job expansion a reality. “We are committed to working together to provide an environment where companies like Expedia can come to Springfield and create good jobs and expand our local economy,” he said.

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