Chamber News

Inspired by Special Olympics!
Published: Monday, November 10, 2014
By: Bob Gilbert, Bartlett and West - 2014 Chamber Chair

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Chairman's Message - November 2014

The recent State Games for the Special Olympics of Missouri (SOMO) were conducted again in Jefferson City and, as usual, inspirational stories and competitions were prevalent. As SOMO promotes acceptance and inclusion for their athletes and families, those of us who volunteer or give or partner with SOMO in some way cannot come away unaffected. I have had the privilege to be working with the Chamber on recent conversations about SOMO’s new Training For Life Campus. Why is the Chamber involved and facilitating partnerships? Because we want SOMO to be part of our community! Their administrative offices have been here for a long time, and we would like them to stay and also develop their new Training For Life Campus in Jefferson City. Before the recent conversations about partnerships, SOMO had planned to move their administrative offices (and jobs) to their property in Boone County.

We want SOMO to build their campus in our community for several reasons. Their investment in athletes’ lives is inspirational to us all, and we believe fits well with the people of our community. We want to continue to make a contribution and volunteer for this worthy organization. We also want the people who currently work for Special Olympics to stay in our economy, along with the additional nine positions they will add with the Training For Life Campus, or a total of 34 jobs. That’s over a million dollars in annual payroll. Wages are what help drive our economy. These are primary wages that also help to create indirect jobs and wages. They will also host athletes and their families throughout the year at their camps, which will generate visitors to our community, and it is estimated to be nearly 2,000 room nights at our area hotels. Obviously, having more visitors to the area will help improve the economy as well. So, this project is very attractive for our community. It will have the double benefit of providing jobs and visitors, but also will keep inspiring us all to continue to make a difference in Special Olympics.

Let me take some of this column to thank our partners in making this project proposal possible. We are fortunate to have Chamber businesses who are supportive of this effort. We had over 100 Chamber businesses express their support and want to be on the list we provided to SOMO. The Farmer Companies have generously offered 15.5 acres of valuable commercial property to SOMO at no cost. This offer makes our community’s proposal very attractive because SOMO could sell their property in Boone County so that they could be closer to their fundraising goal for their project, and it also is enough land that SOMO can have some room to add more features to their campus as their needs change. The City is also a partner in this project as they are willing to extend the sewer to the site to make sure the infrastructure is there.

We had a great team presenting to the SOMO board last Monday, November 3rd. I was honored to represent our community with these partners. I want to thank Senator Mike Kehoe, Mayor Eric Struemph, Rob Kingsury and Kirk Farmer of the Farmer Companies, Diane Gillespie with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and our Chamber staff for their hard work and expertise in preparing for this great project! Now, we all just wait to see if our proposal will be the right choice for Special Olympics. We hope they decide that Jefferson City should be their home for many years to com

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