Proposition Progress: Investing in Our Future

As our city continues to grow and evolve, so must our commitment to maintaining and enhancing the essential foundation that supports our daily lives — our infrastructure.

Recent, large expansion projects like Refresco and General Mills or new businesses like Whataburger and Menards often capture the public’s attention. And those headlines are typically the first image that comes to our minds when we think of economic development. However, it’s important to note that this kind of growth doesn’t happen without the proper foundation being created to “pave the way,” often years in advance. We must also recognize that these new opportunities add pressure to our roads, bridges, public spaces, and utilities.

So, to attract and expand businesses, we have to first build the proper foundation. And then to retain and sustain existing businesses, we must maintain that foundation by investing and reinvesting in ourselves to fund and maintain critical infrastructure projects.

I liken it to the success of the Kansas City Chiefs. Everyone knows Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, but how many of us can name the five guys up front who are blocking, protecting, and giving Mahomes and Kelce the time they need to do what they do best? A successful community is no different.

Without that solid base in the form of dependable roads, fresh water, drainage and sewer systems, broadband access, bridges, and so on, the businesses that provide economic impact can’t do what they do best. When one of the football players up front gets their name called during a game, it’s almost always because they committed a penalty and are being called out for it. So rings true of our roads and utilities. No one talks about them when they work the way they are supposed to. We only talk about them when they fail and suddenly all the things we take for granted are an inconvenience or no longer accessible.

This is why the renewal of the Capital Improvement Sales Tax is crucial to the livelihood of our existing and future businesses alike. I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to vote on April 2 to do so and to vote yes.

While the idea of keeping a tax going may always bring a little indigestion, it is crucial to emphasize the transparency and accountability of this initiative. The revenues aren’t going into a general fund to be used at random. The city has provided a detailed plan outlining the specific projects the tax revenue will cover along with a clear timeline for project implementation and a sunset that gives residents the opportunity to end the tax if the City fails to deliver on what has been promised.

The bottom line is that the continuation of this commitment to sound infrastructure is a strategic investment in Joplin’s collective future. By addressing the pressing needs of our community head-on, we can create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and improve our overall quality of life.

Travis Stephens
President of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce

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