Resident voices concerns over Joplin’s chamber contract

JOPLIN, Mo. – The City of Joplin has had a contract for economic development services with the chamber of commerce for many years. However, some residents feel, the contract, needs to go to someone else.

In some form or another the City of Joplin has had a contractual agreement with the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce to help provide economic development and marketing services since 1984. JACC President & CEO Toby Teeter says “What the City of Joplin outsources to the chamber is management and production of leads, we network with site selectors from across the United States, we go to summits, we go to conferences.”

However, some feel after recent alleged comments by Teeter, it’s a sign he and the chamber aren’t fit to lead the community. Concerned citizen Ryan Jackson says “I think Joplin needs really strong economic development and we’ve had that in the past, Joplin’s been very successful to land a lot of projects communities like Springfield have missed out on, like getting a medical school, two interstates designated here, but that track record comes from past leadership and current leadership hasn’t shown that sort of accomplishment.”

Jackson says the city should look at alternative providers for economic development and marketing in the city, instead of maintaining the decades long agreements. “I think it’s very counterproductive to take a contract and let it auto-renew, it’s not being a good steward of the citizen’s tax payer dollars.”

Teeter says that would be counterproductive in itself, as fostering new business relationships isn’t an overnight effort. “Some business attraction efforts take many, many years, some of these courtships last three months, some last fourteen years, so for instance, working with KCU took nearly a ten year process to get them to the city.”

The contract with the city was last revised in 2015 and provides $252,000 in reimbursable expenses. The chamber is proposing a revised budget of $5,000 less for the upcoming fiscal year. That request will be visited at the Wednesday night budget meeting.

We did reach out to the city about the contract. However, they did not have anyone available for comment today. Joplin is not the only city in the state with a contract with it’s chamber for economic development services.