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Springfield, MO

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Opinion: Springfieldians have been best of neighbors

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On behalf of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, I would like to thank all of our Springfield-area friends and colleagues for their outpouring of assistance, support and concern in the aftermath of our disaster.

The death toll, injuries and destruction represent horrific losses for our community. Now, 158 people were killed, 1,000 injured and nearly 30 percent of our population of 50,000 is displaced. The high school, one middle school, the trade school and two elementary schools were destroyed. Several other schools were damaged. Nearly 500 businesses were in the tornado’s path. Collectively, they employ more than 4,500 people.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that despite the sheer number of businesses hit, the majority of our retail, restaurant and service sectors were not touched. All of our major manufacturers escaped the storm or were only moderately damaged.

Many of the major companies such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and St. John’s Regional Medical Center are going to extraordinary lengths to keep all of their employees on board and paid. Many of our smaller companies are doing all they can in that regard – without outside resources.

We have been stunned by the outpouring of help and support from around the four states and the nation, but we are especially touched by the outreach from our neighbors in the Springfield area.

Our community has made the transition from rescue and recovery to rebuilding. An overwhelming amount of work is ahead of us. We are now placing our focus on Joplin’s long-term needs. We have established a business recovery fund through our foundation.

We thank the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce for being one of the first investors in the fund. At www.joplincc.com, there is a “donate” button, and on the right side is also the www.rebuildjoplin.org link.

These are the organizations that are working together to rebuild the community. Your support, in whatever form, will help in the rebuilding and will be greatly appreciated. To paraphrase our native son Mark Twain, “The reports of Joplin’s demise are greatly exaggerated.”

Thank you again, Springfield. You have proven to be the best of neighbors.

—Rob O’Brian, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce[[In-content Ad]]

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