Springfield Tomorrow, a volunteer group determined to improve Springfield for the millennial population, finalized its goal statements last month. Each of its goals expect tangible progress in attracting and retaining the under-40 population in Springfield.
Springfield Tomorrow Goals
• Connect citizens with a desire to improve the community with civic groups that share similar interests.
• Create a broader online database of local activities, clubs, restaurants, attractions, etc.
• Create a stronger presence of information about local activities, attractions, clubs, etc. in the News-Sun.
• Organize a tour of downtown residential living options.
• Advertise the demand for a modern movie theater.
• Increase live music options in downtown.
• Advertise Springfield as a place for business start-ups.
•Increase awareness of downtown businesses and attractions.
• Remove barriers to outdoor seating at existing downtown restaurants.
• Create an indoor play area for families to visit.
Through a partnership between the City of Springfield, Wittenberg University’s Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement and The Young Professionals of Greater Springfield, Springfield Tomorrow was able to reach a diverse group in Springfield to survey and help determine these goals. Mayor Warren Copeland said that the group hopes to provide “a way for the interests of younger citizens of Springfield to express their goals on the community.” While Springfield Tomorrow has already collected a good amount of information from citizens, they are still hoping for more to respond. Skye Schelle, Springfield Storm Water Coordinator and coordinator of the under-40 effort, hopes that if citizens see these tangible goals and see something that interests them, they will contact Springfield Tomorrow and join the effort.
Springfield Tomorrow kicked off its efforts with a tour of available housing downtown on Saturday, Sept. 12. The tour started in the South Fountain historic district, with Ben Babian — South Fountain Neighborhood Association president — highlighting sale properties in the area and options for financing them. The tour headed downtown to view several loft options, including a sneak peak at lofts under construction.
A primary concern many residents have expressed is that jobs are the most important thing to attract people to live in the city. However, Schelle is unsure which is the chicken and which is the egg: do we need jobs to attract residents to Springfield to build these initiatives, or do we need certain amenities for the under-40 demographic to entice them to jobs in the area? Schelle also noted that many organizations, including the city’s economic team and the Chamber of Commerce, are already working hard to bring jobs into Springfield. Springfield Tomorrow does not want to “recreate the wheel,” but rather let its efforts indirectly affect the job market. They also plan to reach out to entrepreneurship programs at different universities. Springfield Tomorrow is not sure what to expect from these relationships, but wants to see what happens.
Overall, Springfield Tomorrow has taken on an ambitious set of goals, and it, as Copeland said, is “ready and willing” to get it done. It has set a timeline for itself and is working with various organizations, including the Turner Foundation and the South Fountain Neighborhood Association, to make those goals a reality.