Springfield’s business-friendly environment reflects statewide efforts

By Jonas Weir of Missouri Life Magazine.

By Jonas Weir of Missouri Life Magazine.

Health care is the Springfield metropolitan area’s number one sector of employment, employing about 30,000 people with an economic impact of $4.5 billion. However, the city has grown its economic output by 50 percent over the past decade in no small part due to its other key industries and businesses.

“I think it’s important to note that Springfield has a very diverse economy,” says Ryan Mooney, senior vice president of economic development at the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. “We’re not dependent on one industry or one specific company to drive our growth.”

The Springfield metropolitan area, which includes Greene, Christian, Webster, Polk, and Dallas Counties, has more than 440,000 people who work for a variety of different companies. The city of Springfield alone has 12,768 different businesses. In the metro area, 95 percent of all businesses have 50 or fewer employees.

“We’ve got a nice blend,” Mooney says. “There are a large number of companies that are small, yet we still have some great companies that are longtime Springfield success stories that employ a large number of people.”

Bass Pro Exterior 1

Courtesy of the Springfield CVB.

Some of those success stories are brands people recognize worldwide. Missouri Chamber members Bass Pro Shop and O’Reilly Auto Parts, both of which are retail and manufacturing companies that are headquartered in Springfield, employ many people in the area. Bass Pro Shop employs 2,342 people, and O’Reilly employs 1,458 people. Aside from providing jobs, both companies have also been very profitable. Forbes reported that Bass Pro Shop’s total revenue was $4 billion and that O’Reilly Auto Parts’ was $6.18 billion.

These retail and manufacturing giants only make up a portion of the manufacturing sector, though. According to the Springfield Business Development Corporation, the manufacturing sector employs about 14,000 people and has an $18.6 billion economic impact.

Other major employers in this sector include SRC Holdings, which is headquartered in Springfield, and Kraft Foods Inc.

“Strong manufacturing that has been around for a while continues to thrive,” Mooney says. “We’ve had a couple of big manufacturing expansions in the last few years that have helped drive that manufacturing growth.”

springfield employersThe mission of the Springfield Chamber, which is to attract new companies and help existing companies grow, has proved fruitful for the city over the past few years. Most recently, ABEC Inc. Stainless Technology announced in December that it was expanding its facility and creating 88 new jobs.

That same month, Watson Metal Masters announced it was investing in a $4.8-million expansion and creating 77 new jobs.

Springfield gross metroThe multi-faceted city of Springfield attracts expanding companies for a number of reasons.
“We’re centrally located, which certainly helps,” Mooney says. “It’s also that connectedness of the infrastructure. We’ve got great roads in the state, and we need to continue to reinvest in those. We have great air service, too. We do great with the air service in our market.”

In addition to providing a convenient geographic location for distribution and communicating between time zones, the airport connects to nine separate cities with 28 daily flights, a remarkable number for a city its size. On top of that, the airport logistics have an annual economic impact of $14.3 billion. But transportation isn’t the only draw to the city.

“In Springfield, I think it’s two things specifically: a quality labor force, in that we have a growing community with a great education system—all the way from K through 12 through higher education— so we can provide the workers that a company needs now and the workers that a company is going to need to grow and sustain itself in the future,” Mooney says. “And we also have a very competitive cost of doing business.”

Education is also one of the top employment sectors for the city, with two universities that employ thousands. And the competitive cost of business has everything to do with low taxes on a state and community level, a reasonable cost of living statewide, and competitive utility prices.

Springfield really is a shining example of why Missouri is great place to do business.

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