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New report recommends creation of regional development agency

Jan. 11, 2024

Report: Private-sector collaborative should serve 10-county region around Springfield

A new report recommends the creation of a nonprofit focused on collaborative workforce development, quality-of-life improvements and branding for a 10-county region in southwest Missouri.

Hatch Foundation and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks commissioned the report from North Carolina-based Economic Leadership, which has provided similar guidance for regional efforts in northwest Arkansas, Kansas City, the Piedmont Triad and Raleigh-Durham regions in North Carolina, and Fargo, North Dakota.

The report, available at, provides several observations and recommendations:

  • A new nonprofit should be formed to facilitate collaboration of private-sector leaders. The organization should serve as a convener, facilitator and influencer of private-sector CEOs to focus on workforce attraction and expansion, regional branding, and quality-of-life improvements. Its work needs to align with other efforts underway.
  • The broader Springfield region is economically successful but faces challenges that are increasingly complex and require greater collaboration. With Springfield as the regional hub, the new nonprofit should focus its efforts on the 10 counties served by the Southwest Missouri Council of Governments: Barry, Christian, Dade, Dallas, Greene, Lawrence, Polk, Stone, Taney and Webster counties.
  • Existing efforts from other regions can serve as strategic models for the new nonprofit. The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, the Northwest Arkansas Council and the Piedmont Triad Partnership of Greensboro, North Carolina, are cited by the report as nonprofits with successful regional-development efforts.

Last year, Hatch and the CFO convened an ad hoc “regionalism” collaborative following Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Community Leadership Visit to northwest Arkansas. The group comprises representatives from the Chamber, City of Springfield, City Utilities, and Greene, Christian, Dallas and Taney counties, along with nonprofit and business leaders representing the higher education, health care, banking, retail and tourism industries.

About Hatch Foundation: Founded in 2019, Hatch is a family foundation located in Springfield. Its charitable work focuses on quality-of-place and quality-of-life improvements in the Springfield region, specifically with the arts, outdoors and entrepreneurship. Hatch’s mission is to build a better sense of community by enhancing the city’s inherent attributes to help Springfield reach its full potential.

About the CFO: The Community Foundation of the Ozarks is the region’s largest public charitable foundation serving donors, nonprofit partners and 54 regional affiliate foundations with assets totaling $427 million as of June 30, 2023. The CFO’s mission is to improve the quality of life for everyone in central and southern Missouri through resource development, community grantmaking, collaboration and public leadership.

Download the Report (PDF, 2MB)

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