The 2021 Community Focus Report for Springfield & Greene County — the biennial report card that highlights the community’s strengths and challenges — is now available to the public at springfieldcommunityfocus.org.
The Community Foundation of the Ozarks is one of the five original funding partners, which also include the Junior League of Springfield, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, the Springfield-Greene County Library District and United Way of the Ozarks.
The format of this year’s report is new to account for the dramatic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic since the 2019 report. The traditional 11 topic areas and their Red Flags and Blue Ribbons have been released over the past several weeks as a series of white papers in advance of the printed edition.
The printed edition takes the 11 topics and views them through the lens of five widely accepted Social Determinants of Health: Economic Stability; Education Access and Quality; Health Care Access and Quality; Neighborhood and Built Environment; and Social and Community Context. The goal: To understand how our strengths and challenges affected our response to the pandemic.
The full report also notes six overall themes from the Blue Ribbons and Red Flags:
- The need to regain momentum: The pandemic halted progress in several areas where the community had been making as of 2019. The Forward SGF visioning effort is once again restarting, and major construction projects are once again underway throughout the community.
- Diversity, equity and inclusion: Over the past decade, Springfield and Greene County have become more diverse — a key component to helping attract and retain talent in the area. It will be a critical piece to helping tackle the shortage of skilled workers in the area, a Red Flag.
- Community health: Our health care system — public and private — took center stage during the pandemic as organizations collaborated to take care of the community and ensure everyone’s safety and health. Burrell Behavioral Health’s Rapid Access Unit highlighted in multiple white papers, show how the health sector is exploring innovative ways to confront our Red Flags across topics. Unfortunately, treating repeated waves of COVID-19 patients has taken its toll on the community’s first responders and health care workers.
- The community’s changing image: Our community continued to grow faster than much of the rest of the state, but that rate of growth is slower than cities seen as desirable places in which to live, such as Nashville, Tennessee, and Fayetteville, Arkansas. In recent years, leaders have put more focus on placemaking, developing distinctive amenities and offerings that not only bring skilled talent to the area but keep such professionals, entrepreneurs and innovators here
- Collective action: For years, Springfield and Greene County — driven by nonprofits and the faith community — have provided a base of support for addressing problems and helping those in need. Through many organizations, we have volunteered time and donated resources to build community. The region now finds itself at a pivotal moment as longtime community leaders retire, and the next generation rises.
- Ongoing investment: Success requires investment, and over the past few years, Springfield and Greene County residents have supported numerous infrastructure initiatives: A $168 million bond issue for Springfield Public Schools is adding new buildings and resources for more than 24,000 students and their families; the renewal of the ¼-cent capital improvements sales tax and 1/8-cent transportation sales tax ensure investments in roads and capital projects over the next 20 years; and the adoption of sewer-rate increases will support wastewater, stormwater and overall water quality protection efforts into 2025.
The final topical white paper covering Community Health, which is highlighted in the printed report, also is now available online.
The full report was released during a virtual event hosted at the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ community room in Springfield. The event featured an overview of the report’s findings and a panel discussion with four leaders who are relatively new to the Springfield community. A recording of the event can be viewed at facebook.com/SGFCFR.
The 2021 Community Focus Report marks the 10th edition of the report card started in 2004 to build consensus on Springfield-Greene County’s Blue Ribbons and Red Flags. The report is presented in 11 chapters representing key topics such as business, health, education, environment and quality of life.
In addition to the new white papers, this year’s edition also is accompanied by a series of panel discussions on each topic for the 2021–22 “Making a Difference” series on KSMU – Ozarks Public Radio, 91.1 FM. The second episode aired on Oct. 14 and featured a preview of the full report and a detailed discussion on the Housing white paper. The episode is available in its entirety at ksmu.org/show/making-a-difference.
The springfieldcommunityfocus.org website, hosted by the Springfield-Greene County Library District, has been redesigned to include additional context and updates for the white papers and full report.
The Community Focus Reports are produced by subject experts for each chapter topic represented on a joint steering committee that guides final publication. Morey Mechlin, a member of the CFO Board of Directors, chairs the Steering Committee; Dr. Jonathan Groves, chair of Drury University’s Communication Department, serves as facilitator.
Read the Full Report