City Council to hear request from MSSU for ARPA funds

·3 min read

Jul. 5—A request by Missouri Southern State University for the city to provide $1.5 million from Joplin's share of American Rescue Plan Act funds will be heard by the Joplin City Council at a meeting Tuesday night.

The request is to be made as part of a presentation on the potential uses for the city's $13 million in allocated ARPA funds. The council will be asked to fill out a score sheet on the projects that should receive funding. Council members will be asked to return those scoring assessments later in the week so the city staff can finish the paperwork to file requests for the funding.

Missouri Southern officials have said there is a critical need for health care workers in Joplin's medical and dental industries. Because of that, the university has planned to build a $30 million Health Science Innovation Center to train health professionals in many fields of health care.

MSSU officials have said that the center is one of the top capital projects identified by Gov. Mike Parson for its impact on Missouri. The governor is expected to sign a $15 million appropriation from the Missouri General Assembly for the project soon, according to university information.

If Joplin would provide $1.5 million, the university could apply for matching funds that would provide another $3 million for the project, according to agenda documents.

The council also will hear a staff request for approval of an agreement with Alvarez and Marshal Infrastructure and Capital Projects LLC for administrative services and consulting work to develop broadband internet service in Joplin.

A study of the need for broadband access was completed in 2020. There were 800 individuals and businesses in Joplin, Carl Junction and Webb City that responded. A large percentage reported difficulty during the COVID-19 pandemic with working and doing business online because of a need for access or higher speed broadband or fiber connectivity options.

The study concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic showed that not all Joplin residents can work or receive health care from home. Changes in the workforce, education, business/industry, transportation health care and other sectors that rely on the exchange of data and information must be connected to reliable higher speed services to compete.

The City Council identified connectivity as one of six goals the city should pursue as part of a strategic plan for community improvements.

The recommended contract commits Alvarez and Marshal to identifying and designing connectivity options along with identifying funding options for broadband service providers at a cost not to exceed of $797,618.

In other business, a quarterly report from the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce will address continued low unemployment rates for the area and recent industrial expansion efforts including the sale of a 30-acre parcel as the site for a the construction of a Road Ranger Travel Plaza at the edge of the Crossroads Business and Distribution Park.

A public hearing will be held on a rezoning request by Cary Scheurich on behalf of 4 State Trucks, 4579 S. Highway 43. The business is expanding a warehouse and wants rezoning from residential to industrial for some property adjoining the business for the expansion.