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Economic Experts Optimistic Despite Job Loss in Springfield

Updated: Tuesday, June 10 2014, 01:44 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD -- A tough blow to the capital city after an AT&T call center closes, putting about 200 out of work. The next day, Saint Johns Hospital laid off 43 managers.

"We hate to see those losses in our community but long-term, we're optimistic," said Mike Farmer, Director of Planning and Economic Development for the city of Springfield.

Right now, Springfield has the second lowest unemployment rate for a metro area in the state at 5.7 percent; and has gained 2,000 jobs in the past year.

The Springfield Chamber of Commerce has what's known as the Q5 initiative to spur economic development. During its first phase, the project fell short of its goal to attract 4,500 jobs; but that was set before the recession hit. Q5 has not set a jobs goal for its second phase.

Now, John Parrish with the Chamber says the goal is to diversify the types of jobs here. "Instead of relying upon the government employment here in Springfield, we're promoting the healthcare industry, agribusiness, tourism and logistics and trying to widen the base of the economy here in Sangamon county," Parrish said.

A recent survey found for the first time since 2012, Sangamon County employers are positive
about the overall local economy, their business sector, and the economy of
their own business or organization.

However, the state's business climate may make attracting businesses challenging. 

"It's a competitive disadvantage for us when your state is delinquent in payments of bills and there's a trend that's higher with respect to income taxes, so we have to be creative and innovative and offer things like Springfield's affordability to offset those disadvantages," Farmer said.

Economic Experts Optimistic Despite Job Loss in Springfield

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