Springfield was one of 32 recipients of the U.S. EDA's Good Jobs Challenge grant in 2022. (Illustration provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration)

On Monday night, the Springfield City Council unanimously authorized City Manager Jason Gage to accept $17.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. The money will help put Springfieldians to work in well-paying, stable jobs.

The money will be awarded to the Quadra-Regional Workforce Alliance (QRWA), an industry-led workforce training program established by Springfield’s Department of Workforce Development that covers 51 counties in southern Missouri, including 14 persistent poverty counties. 

The program will train 2,000 individuals across the region’s health care, trucking and education sectors with a focus on communities of color, women and people with disabilities. QRWA also aims to provide wrap-around services needed for people to stay employed, such as child care subsidies and transportation.

The application submitted by the city of Springfield to the U.S. Economic Development Administration outlined problem areas, commitments of support from private businesses and potential impacts QRWA could have on southwest Missouri. 

Additionally, QRWA aims to coordinate with the nonprofit Jobs for the Future Research and Analytics Unit to find sustainability strategies to use once the grant funding runs out. 

“Through this funding to the Quadra-Regional Workforce Alliance in Springfield, more Missourians will be given the chance to receive top-tier training in three crucial industrial sectors – health care, trucking, and education,” Governor Mike Parson said in a press release earlier this month. “Missouri is committed to supporting these industries and ensuring workers have access to training and education programs. This grant is a great addition to our efforts to accomplish just that and build a strong state and local economy.”

Sally Payne (Photo: City of Springfield)

Sally Payne, the director of Workforce Development for the City of Springfield, provided the report at the Aug. 22 city council meeting, highlighting that this project was one of 509 applications, of which only 32 were awarded across the nation. According to Payne, the Springfield group was the only recipient that emphasized education as a sector they will train participants in. 

“We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity to positively impact the workforce in nearly one-third of the state by creating career pathways and placement in the areas of healthcare, transportation and logistics, distribution and education services,” Payne said in a news release after receiving the award. “The need for skilled workers in these areas is critical to easing supply chain demands and bolstering local economies.”

Springfield Mayor Ken McClure and Councilman Richard Ollis commended the bill sponsored by fellow Councilman Andrew Lear that effectively accepted the award, as it qualified for approval after one reading by the City Council. 

“Congratulations on the application and the successful award,” McClure said at the city council meeting. “This is very good news, not only for our city but our region. I have high expectations for this.” 

Of the $3 billion allocated from ARPA, $500 million was awarded through the Good Jobs Challenge across 15 different industries with objectives of:

  • Powering regional competitiveness and inclusive economic growth.
  • Expanding equitable job opportunities across underserved populations and communities.
  • Building worker-centered, employer-led workforce training systems.
  • Integrating diverse, local stakeholders into workforce training partnerships.

The Good Jobs Challenge award is the latest in a flurry of organizations in Springfield and Greene County benefiting from ARPA funding.

Jack McGee

Jack McGee is a general assignment reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen, with a focus on regional politics. McGee most recently worked at Carbon Trace Productions, a documentary film company, as a producer. He’s a Missouri State University graduate and former reporter at student-led newspaper The Standard. More by Jack McGee