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Feb. 3, 2021

Watershed Committee of the Ozarks to manage operations

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks is investing $75,000 in the new Fellows Lake Marina, now operated by Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. The seed money is provided through the CFO’s Mission-Related Investment program, which makes below-market loans to help finance projects with a public purpose.

City Utilities of Springfield recently selected WCO, a 501(c)3 sponsored by City Utilities, the City of Springfield and Greene County, to manage Fellows Lake Marina and the 20-acre Scott Miller Park. Funds from the loan will be used to purchase canoes, kayaks, boat lifts, store inventory, safety equipment and other supplies. The marina store is scheduled to open March 1. The new dock, currently under construction, will open later in the spring.

Corporate philanthropy also is making WCO’s new venture possible. Bass Pro Shops, a longtime supporter of WCO, donated two pontoon boats and three fishing boats for the marina’s boat rental service.

Fellows Lake is located north of Springfield and as serves as a primary drinking water resource for the city. Mike Kromrey, executive director of WCO, describes the 820-acre lake as the “most valuable asset in our water-supply portfolio.”

WCO’s mission is to sustain and improve the water resources of Springfield and Greene County through education and effective management of the region’s watersheds. Kromrey sees the marina operations as an opportunity to advance that mission through social enterprise.

“We see our management of the marina as mission-centric work. It’s about relationship building, educational outreach and ecological stewardship,” said Kromrey. “Every purchase at the marina is a chance to help the customer better understand our natural resources.”

The CFO’s Mission-Related Investment program was established in 2010 to make below-market loans to projects with a public purpose, particularly when traditional financing options are not feasible. The program is described as having a “double bottom line” because the financing creates a community benefit as well as a return for the CFO that goes back into the program for future projects.

Other recent Mission-Related Investment projects include Missouri State University’s expansion of Jordan Valley Innovation Center, Salem Memorial District Hospital’s acquisition of an MRI machine and Ozark Greenway’s extension of the Fulbright Spring Greenway.

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