Joplin council meeting features business projects and community initiatives

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JOPLIN, Mo.–Joplin’s city council meeting saw a variety of community involvement and development Monday night as city leaders heard voices from area business owners and public officials.

This week’s agenda centered around two common themes — business and money. 

Kicking off the meeting was a presentation by Joplin Regional Airport consultant Mike Mooney, who highlighted numbers stemming from the airport’s decision to offer flights to Chicago. The city made the decision back in June of this year, hoping to provide a flight choice closer to home for residents who would instead have to travel to Springfield, Tulsa, or Kansas City. 

The airport saw an overall 26% increase in traffic from January to October, and is projected to see a 15% increase in seat capacity in 2020. Mooney concluded that although national trends like a pilot shortage, consolidation of smaller airlines, and the use of larger jets with more seating have affected the numbers the airport has seen in the first six months of the decision, there is still a lot of data to be gathered. Some numbers are still up in the air, but Mooney stressed that the airport has come a long way since its origins in the 1930’s, and that he’s optimistic in what the city will find in future data.

From there, council members also finalized the city’s contract with American Airlines Monday night, authorizing the company to operate within the JLN facility.The agreement with the airline was initiated July 1, and with the passing of an emergency ordinance on Monday night, the council made the contract official. The lease will last five years. 

Another big topic from Monday’s meeting focused on a proposed city ordinance by Joplin business owner, Chris Shumate. Shumate, the owner of the Smoking Capricorn, approached the council with the details of the ordinance, which would allow for Joplin companies to designate a space for patients who use medical marijuana to consume their medication on the property. The ordinance wouldn’t require businesses to participate or even support the new medicinal use policy, rather simply allow Joplin-area businesses to make that decision on their own. 

City leaders also heard from officials with both the Joplin Chamber and Casey’s General Store to learn more about plans to build a new Casey’s warehouse in Joplin. The $51.4 million-dollar project would be funded by a Chapter 100 bond, which essentially means that the city will lease the warehouse property to the company until it’s paid for. According to Chamber president, Toby Teeter, this project has been in the works for nearly three years now and stresses that with the bond, municipal funds will not be at risk. The project is expected to be completed sometime in 2021.

The council topped off the night’s discussion with the funding of several local entities. City leaders approved a $11,500 match for a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant that will go towards the city’s MAPS and Sunshine Lamp Trolly to continue to fund public transportation for the Joplin Community. 

Finally, Joplin city leaders continued their support for local organizations that work to combat homelessness in the area by approving a combined total of more than $40 thousand in funding to the Economic Security Corporation and the Joplin Homeless Coalition. Both organizations cater to the Joplin community by providing service and housing to the homeless population, along with recording data that will provide insight on how to better care for the area. To celebrate the work of these organizations, Mayor Gary Shaw also proclaimed November 16-24 as Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week.

The council will meet again at 6 pm next Monday, November 25, on the fifth floor of Joplin City Hall.

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