Local and state representatives as well as Expedia employees were on hand Nov. 18 at the Expedia Inc. operations center ribbon-cutting ceremony held at the company’s new Springfield facility in the old terminal at Springfield-Branson National Airport, 5000 W. Kearney.
Gov. Jay Nixon, Springfield Mayor Jim O’Neal and Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Jim Anderson spoke alongside Expedia Vice President Scott Weismiller as well as Howard Fisk, Springfield-Branson National Airport board chairman and president of J. Howard Fisk Limousine Inc.
Officials praised the efforts made to create the Springfield-based Expedia center, which announced in August it would bring 500 new jobs to the area.
Weismiller said the center already houses the 270 staff members who were employed at Expedia's old Springfield location, 4124 S. McCann Court, and that, as of Nov. 18, 300 new employees had been hired. He said 200 jobs will be added in the coming months in areas including customer service, hotel support and financial operations.
“Many people on both the internal and external side have played an integral part of this renovation and opening of the center," he said, pointing to local and state leaders as well as Expedia personnel. "You can see from looking around that a tremendous transformation has taken place, and it has become a productive and aesthetically pleasing work space for our employers."
A state bill exempting online travel companies from local hotel taxes signed by Gov. Nixon on July 8 encouraged the company to expand in Springfield, according to Springfield Business Journal coverage
Nixon noted that having large corporations such as Expedia eyeing Missouri is a solid economic indicator for the state.
"They're a multibillion dollar company with localized sites in 18 countries," he said. "In other words, folks, they could be anywhere, but they chose here."
Skilled Missouri workers, he said, will move the state economy forward.
"As your governor, I am absolutely confident that Missouri's momentum will only continue to build as we move forward by focusing relentlessly on job creation, by investing our economic tools strategically and by keeping the state fiscal house in order," Nixon said. "You're not going to cut your way to prosperity, you have to build your way to prosperity."
State incentives to Expedia comprise $5.8 million in Missouri Quality Jobs Program tax credits, $1.2 million in new jobs training funding and $325,000 in recruitment assistance.
Anderson said bipartisan cooperation was an integral part of the process.
"I will tell you Expedia would not have happened without the city involvement and leadership," he said. "In my opinion, what we have seen is community recycling at its very best."
O'Neal also touched on the cooperation factor of the project.
"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. "The real solution to problems on every level of government today has to do with economic development and creating jobs."
Expedia in February signed a five-year lease to occupy 59,000 square feet in the former airport terminal building.