On July 9, elected officials, and business and academic leaders from the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, including Springfield Mayor Ken McClure, visited Fort Leonard Wood to improve regional and business collaboration.
During the site visit, guests from the chamber were shown the Chemical Defense Training Facility, the National Guard Kit Bond Aviation Support Facility, the John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex and simulators that use technology to produce an indoor, electronic firing range.
Springfield is already one of the military installation’s partners, as service members, spouses, and civilians employed at the fort often visit the city or eventually move there.
“We want to be a place where those residing on the fort can come on the weekends and enjoy Springfield and be supportive,” McClure said. “But it’s also an economic link as well. There are just so many partnerships that are there.”
Rep. Steve Lynch of House District 122, which includes Waynesville and St. Robert, said that military and defense comprise a multi-billion dollar industry in the state.
There are “almost a couple hundred thousand (defense industry) jobs in the state of Missouri, and Fort Wood (is) the biggest military footprint,” he said.
Springfield’s employers look to hire service members who leave the military, making Fort Leonard Wood a recruiting ground.
“There’s obviously a lot of talent in the military and we’re always looking for talent, and just learning about…helping those that are retiring and (starting) on that second career,” said Brent Hubbard, Mercy Hospital Springfield Communities president. “That’s one of the major opportunities that I see just within the healthcare arena.”
McClure, who had his first Army physical examination at Fort Leonard in the early 1970s, said he looks forward to helping retirees and veterans find employment through Springfield-based companies.
“We want to be a resource,” he said. “So as people leave the military, they’ve got a logical place to come. We have a situation in Springfield where we have more jobs available than we have people with skills to fill them.”
Gregg Thompson, MSCoE deputy to the commanding general, referred to the hiring process as on ongoing dialogue and thanked Chamber members.
“Thank you for hiring our heroes, our veterans, our retirees,” he said. “Thank you for the Guard and Reserve members, who are not active duty, working here every day. The Army could not be as successful without the support of our local businesses and our communities allowing your citizens, friends and neighbors to join the Guard and Reserve and serve in that way.”