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Tracking Progress

From mom and pop shops to big box retailers, hundreds of businesses were hit hard by the May 22nd 2011 tornado. It's been three years, and if you look around, Joplin's business sector seems to be booming. So we set out to see exactly how much progress has been made.

JOPLIN, MO.--- It's a busy day at AdornAble, but getting back to being a successful business has taken more than a quick stitch. 

"We had four walls left, we basically lost all of the machinery, we were able to save one computer that had all of our records on it, but we did not lose one item of customer's clothing," said Chris Moos, AdornAble Owner. 

A high level of commitment to their customers is one of the main reasons why owners Chris and Liliya Moos decided to reopen after the EF-5. First, they relocated downtown. And not too long ago, opened shop at 2026 South Main Street, just a couple of doors down from where the original building once stood.

"It's important that business come back to Main Street. This part of Main Street kind of served a purpose for Joplin pre-tornado. It was almost sort of like a small business incubation area," said Moos. 

Small businesses are making a comeback along that roadway. Next Generation Plumbing, El Vaquero, Cupcakes By Liz, the Tire Center, the Cutaway- are just some of them. Tropicana will soon join them. Although slow, progress is being made.

"That's a very strong response from our business community," said Rob O'Brian, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President.

Farther up the tornado's path- Range Line is bustling. Most businesses have reopened and new ones keep popping up, Panda Express being the most recent. Across Joplin, 160 new businesses have come and stayed, adding 700 employees. 

"We actually are at pre-recession levels of employment in the Joplin-Metro area and within Joplin," said O'Brian. 

The new Heartland Pet Food Manufacturing Company will contribute to the increase when it opens in August.

"It already started hiring. They have about 40 people right now. Eventually when they reach full production they will have 150 people," said O'Brian. 

Chamber President Rob O'Brian attributes the success to the city's resilience and spirit, which allowed people across the nation to view Joplin in a positive light.

"They're saying Joplin has a lot to offer," said O'Brian. 

As for the Moos, they are optimistic south main will, also, soon have a lot to offer.

"I see people out with surveying equipment, so I know plans are coming along. We believe in Main Street. We believe in Joplin," said Moos. 

The Joplin Chamber's work is far from done. Apart form helping keep businesses in town and attracting new companies, leaders are also helping existing businesses expand to create even more jobs in the area. 

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