In the 2000s, Missouri State University leaders had a vision.
We wanted to redevelop a portion of Springfield’s center city.
With the help of the city and local government, we would create an urban innovation park.
It would blend university programs with residential, retail, commercial and entertainment facilities.
The park would celebrate and encourage Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship and Art — and so the IDEA Commons concept was officially named in 2007.
Now, more than 10 years later, IDEA Commons is part of the fabric of Springfield.
It has helped MSU and the city:
- Keep innovative people in our community and attract young, creative talent.
- Continue the revitalization of downtown.
- Expand opportunities for research and development.
- Develop partnerships between the university and entrepreneurs.
- Promote economic development through new job opportunities.
First major public-private partnership succeeds
IDEA Commons continues to adapt.
In 2008, Brick City — a group of historic downtown buildings with brick exteriors — was renovated.
Missouri State’s art and design department moved into many of the spaces. Private businesses and other academic programs moved into others.
This rehabilitation was made possible through a public-private partnership involving Missouri State, the city of Springfield and several businesses.
This renovation was originally done with developer Miller Commerce, which accessed historic tax credits to make the project feasible.
MSU leased the buildings each year. We anticipated that we would eventually purchase them.
In fall 2018, we finalized an agreement to buy buildings 1, 3, 4 and 5, and the adjacent parking lots. We will sell bonds to finance the purchase. Now that we are buying at about the same rate we were leasing, there will be no additional cost to the university.
This is one example of an IDEA Commons project that benefited private business, the city and the university.
We hope there are many more to come.
Our new vision: IDEA Commons, reimagined
One project on the horizon: Growing the Jordan Valley Innovation Center.
We plan to expand the space owned by MSU. A commercial office building, to be owned by a private company, will also be constructed. The area will include landscaping and parking.
Eventually, we hope this will lead to exciting amenities for those who live and work here.
The city agrees. In a news release, they said this public-private partnership would be a “transformational economic catalyst.”
We have had a lot of partners in this vision.
Missouri Sen. Jay Wasson led the legislative changes needed to get this expansion named as a tax-increment-financing project in the state budget.
The city of Springfield approved its commitment to the project, including tax incentives and financing for stormwater and streetscape improvements.