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City of Jackson Seeks Expansions in Business and Infrastructure in 2016

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Marissanne Lewis-Thompson/KRCU
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Last week, the city of Jackson opened its new civic center to a crowd of nearly 400 people. It's equipped with a new gym that doubles as a FEMA safe room and a banquet hall. But the upgrades to the city are just beginning. Recently, I spoke with the city of Jackson Mayor DwainHahs about what local residents can expect this year.

Lewis-Thompson: You're listening to KRCU and I'm Marissanne Lewis-Thompson. And joining me in the studio today is the city of Jackson Mayor DwainHahs. So welcome Mayor Hahs.

Hahs: Thank you, Marissa.

Lewis-Thompson: Last week the civic center opened. So can you give me an update on that and what's been the response in the community so far?

Hahs: Okay. Yes, we did open our new civic center last week, and the response has been great. First, to our ribbon cutting in grand opening we had almost 400 people there. So, that was just a fantastic response of people coming out and seeing the facility that we've built in Jackson. And then the daily attendance now we've been very pleased with what we're seeing. The number of people coming out using the facility, using the sports part of the facility is going very well.

Lewis-Thompson:  Can you tell me a little bit about what are some of the new features in the civic center? I saw that it doubles as a FEMA shelter relief. And what else?

Hahs: Yes, it is. The gym area is built to withstand a category 5 tornado. So that does make it a FEMA safe room, which we do open up anytime there's a tornado watch--warning for individuals to come in and be there during that time. So, that's a great safety feature for our city and a place for people to go. Now that also doubles up as a gym where we have basketball, volleyball, pickleball [and] all kinds of sporting. And it has a track--a walking track around it as well, so we can use those facilities. In addition to that, we also have two banquet rooms that can be put together, so people can have a banquet meeting and so forth. And then we have avery large common area where people can just come in, have coffee, drinks and enjoy themselves in the civic center area.

Lewis-Thompson:  I know that the Jackson Commerce is wanting to attract more businesses into the Jackson area. So, what kind of businesses do you hope to bring into Jackson?

Hahs: Okay. Well I guess it'd be two parts. First, I think it would be retail business. The revenue of our city of Jackson does by a majority run off of the sales tax revenue that we collect from retail sales in our city. So, encouraging our present businesses to expand, and new businesses to come into Jackson is important, so that we continue to see good solid revenue growth so we can service our citizens of Jackson. So, retail is important. We're also looking for manufacturing, because certainly manufacturing and industrial businesses brings new jobs to our city. So, one thing that we're doing is building a spec building, a 50,000 square foot spec building in our industrial park. So that a industry could come to town and very quickly you know build out their building, and be able to operate in the city.

Lewis-Thompson:  Okay. So that sounds like a lot of opportunity. You have the new civic center, which will bring a lot of opportunity for people to come and visit. Then you have--you're hoping to bring new businesses to the area. Is there anything in the works?

Hahs: Well mostly we're doing our research first. Trying to get an understanding really doing a survey to understand where are the business gaps in our area. Where could we use more retail of a certain type there? So, we're doing that study now so that we can then act on that. And also go out and reach out to some businesses that maybe could be very successful in Jackson that aren't there. Also, you know I think the most important thing is talking to our present businesses and see what they need to be able to expand. Do they need a new location? What would they like to see in Jackson so they could expand their business.

Lewis-Thompson: So last year there were some plans for a new roundabout in the busy intersection in Uptown Jackson. And those plans were finalized last year I believe in December, right?

Hahs: Yes.

Lewis-Thompson:  So, what's the current status on that?

Hahs: Okay. At present the Missouri Department of Transportation who will be managing this project, which will be a cost sharing project between the city of Jackson and the Missouri Department of Transportation. They're finalizing the plans and during March they will go out for bid. And so we'll bid the project out and construction companies will bid on that, and then that will be awarded in April and construction will start in May.

Lewis-Thompson:  Is there anything new going on in Jackson besides the new roundabout that's coming, new civic? Is there anything new that's going to be happening?

Hahs: Well I think we're excited also about our Uptown Jackson area. We have a new organization, the Uptown Jackson revitalization organization. And they've contracted with Main Street Missouri, which is a Missouri wide organization that helps cities improve their uptowns or downtowns.

Lewis-Thompson:  Do you have any hopes or goals for 2016 for the city of Jackson?

Hahs: Well I think some of what we've talked about. Certainly it is to get out infrastructure projects in place, and going you know the roundabout. We're going to do some improvement at our south Hope and east Jackson boulevard intersection where we have some train tracks go across that. So we want to improve that [and] make that better as we go through 2016. We've started a water upgrade project that the bond issue passed last year. So, we want to get started on that and get a good 12 months improvement of our water systems. We're going to do a study on our waste water system as well, because we're getting some capacity expansion issues there that we want to expand that out to west of town. So, improvement of our infrastructure is going to be a key in 2016. That coupled with as we've talked before the retail expansion and industrial growth will be what we're really are going to be emphasizing [this] year.

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