With the national unemployment level standing at around 10 percent, Barry County officials are striving to create an atmosphere for job creation. The Barry County Commission and the City of Cassville have joined together to spearhead efforts to establish an Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ) in the county. Several community leaders have stepped up to serve on the EEZ Board, which will be responsible for establishing tax incentive regulations for the zone.
The City of Cassville is also working to implement suggestions from its master plan, including using a group of citizen task forces to develop ideas for job creation and economy development. From these task forces, the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce created a new summer-time community event, Friday Squared, which inspires area residents to shop locally and the Cassville Downtown Partnership was established to develop plans for the enhancement of Cassville's downtown area.
In addition to the newly founded EEZ, Downtown Partnership and new community events, Barry County and the Cassville area have another asset to enhance the local economy in the future. The Crowder College Cassville Campus educates and trains hundreds of young citizens who could be essential in filling professional positions in the local community over the next few years.
Even though the Cassville Campus is a vital part of the Barry County community, this educational facility, like many community colleges across the nation, finds itself suffering greater federal and state funding cuts each year. Although President Barack Obama's American Graduation Initiative, seeks to boost community college graduation by five million students by 2020, lawmakers have settled on authorizing only $2 billion for grants to community colleges over the next four years.
Today, many Americans have concerns over the growing federal budget, but is it in our nation's best interest to cut funding for education? Over the last few years, not only has higher education suffered from budget reductions, but funding for elementary and secondary education has also been decreased across the board. As our nation struggles to develop jobs and work to compete in the global economy, I believe we must continue to invest in the right areas to develop a healthy economy in the future.
Many local businesses and community members have stepped up to help support both our local school districts and our local community college. For instance, St. John's Hospital-Cassville provided a large amount of equipment and supplies for the Crowder College Cassville Campus' new nursing program. It is my hope that the local community will continue to help support local education in any way possible. We should also take time to remind our legislators that funding cuts to education and the consequences of those cuts must be carefully considered in the future.