The Springfield, Our Community program day was a wonderful way for Class 33 to begin the Leadership Springfield experience. The program day team planned a dynamic, informative, and impactful day covering the leadership topic: change.
We began the day at the City Utilities of Springfield, MO (CU) Bus Terminal, traveling to our first destination, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber), by city bus. For many of us, including me, this was our first time riding a city bus. We arrived at the Chamber for the ‘Springfield Tipping Points’ panel discussion, moderated by Brian Fogle of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. Participants Jim Anderson (CoxHealth), Tom Finnie (former city manager-City of Springfield), Mary Lilly Smith (City of Springfield), and Robin Robeson (Guaranty Bank) gave us a thought-provoking overview of Springfield's history of economic development based on their first-hand knowledge and experiences as well as a look into Springfield's vision for future development. We learned how important it is for the public and private sectors to partner for successful, planned economic development.
The class next traveled to The Fairbanks where we took part in a poverty simulation organized by OACAC. I spent my simulated four weeks as an unemployed, 19-year old single mother of a 1-year old son. By the end of the month I had managed to keep my child fed and a roof over his head, but was completely out of money and had sold everything of value except for my appliances. It was an eye-opening experience for many of us to see the realities that members of our community face each day. After the poverty simulation, Amy Blansit gave us a tour of The Fairbanks facility and an overview of the great work they are doing for the surrounding neighborhood and its residents. It was inspiring to see how The Fairbanks has used a nearly forgotten building to foster a renewed sense of community in the area.
The Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC) hosted us for lunch, giving us a glimpse into the work that goes on at JVIC, and a panel discussion moderated by Denise Silvey (Paul Mueller Company), and featuring Jeff Houghton (The Mystery Hour), Stacy Jurado-Miller (The Vecino Group), Sarah Kerner (City of Springfield), Maurice Moss (CU), and Kelly Turner (CU) in Springfield: A Look Ahead. Our discussion focused on what attracts people to the Springfield community, what makes us stay in Springfield, and how we can and are working to make this a community and home for diverse residents. A comment that particularly resonated with me was that “diversity is more than an idea or goal, it is a value”.
After leaving JVIC, we visited Vital Farms’ new manufacturing facility in Partnership Industrial Facility West. We toured the facility and learned about the company’s dedication to giving their girls (i.e. hens) a cage-free life while bringing certified humane, antibiotic, and hormone-free pasture raised eggs to consumers. The commitment of Vital Farms to sustainability at every level of their business as well as their generosity in hosting our group the afternoon before their ribbon-cutting ceremony was very impressive.
We ended our day with Mayor Ken McClure at Missouri Spirits. We were able to enjoy a delicious, handcrafted cocktail on the house and reflect on the day spent examining our ever-changing community. Given the success of our first program day, I’m looking forward to experiencing the rest of the Leadership Springfield program alongside my classmates in Signature Class 33.