Building A Better Rural Ozarks

“Where is the grass greenest?”

“Where it’s watered.”

This spin on an old adage is something Hrishue Mahalaha, Senior Partner for JumpStart Inc., likes to say when helping groups focus on the most important priorities. It was particularly apt last week, when Mahalaha and Josh Borstein presented a slew of data and research in Sarcoxie, Salem and Marshfield, the three communities participating in the CFO’s inaugural Growth in the Rural Ozarks program.

JumpStart received more than 500 community surveys (nearly 300 from Salem alone) and conducted one-on-one interviews with scores of local stakeholders across the three cities. The purpose was to identify the challenges facing these towns through the eyes of residents and business owners.

Across the board, a lack of well-paying jobs, weak community support for existing businesses, quality housing and quality-of-life issues (particularly for younger residents) were cited as concerns. These are themes that are likely familiar to anyone living in a small to mid-size city. But the research allowed strengths to emerge as well, including the fact that rural places are predisposed to have, and support, local businesses, which was a primary objective among many survey respondents.

Read the full story at Springfield News-Leader.