City admin looks to grow local economy

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fiber project may open doors for tech companies in Cassville

Four months into his post as Cassville city administrator, Steve Walensky is setting his sights on an area of city government that has received less attention in the last few years economic development.

For starters, Walensky and the city have rejoined the Springfield Regional Economic Partnership (SREP), which acts as a middleman between the city and current and prospective businesses, showing them what Cassville has to offer.

"SREP offers tools and help to existing businesses for organic growth," Walensky said. "They meet with business leaders to find out what they are doing, and provide tools and technology for them to grow through direct revenue or product offerings."

Technology is one of Walensky's focal points when it comes to bringing industry to the Cassville area, especially with the new GoBEC fiber project.

"Barry Electric adding [fiber] is a clear strategic advantage for us," he said. "It's exciting because we are one of the only communities our size that offers anything like that, and that could interest some tech firms."

Stan Kelley, chairman of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), agreed that technology and fiber access are key for Cassville's future.

"Fiber is a good selling point," he said. "It's a big benefit to any prospective business coming here since everything is tied to technology. That's something we really want to promote. Also, being in the Ozarks, we have a lot of tourist and recreational benefits for companies coming in, and we have a reputation for having a good, stable work force."

Walensky said SREP could play a role in getting some technology firms to make a move to Cassville.

"What they do is act as an agent, going and soliciting for our skill set and giving companies information on our demographics, traffic, etc.," he said. "Businesses put their needs and requirements together for SREP, and they find areas that fit that model."

Along with SREP, Walensky is working with Business Retention And Expansion, a community-based economic development program focused on supporting existing businesses.

"We want to keep what we have, and bring in new industry," he said.

Kelley said the IDC shares that goal of maintaining current industry and looking for new employers to move to Cassville.

"We will assist and be a liaison between any industries and the city," he said. "Our location in the four-states area and near multiple metropolitan areas is a plus. And, with the industry we already have established, we have proven Cassville is a good place to come and good community to be a part of.

"It's been a while since we've had a new industry come in, and bringing in someone new is something we'd really like to see happen."

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