Led by the Cities of Nixa and Ozark, Christian County grew almost 43 percent between 2000 and 2010, outpacing the rest of the region. Excellent education opportunities, good value housing, and high quality of life made North Christian County a destination for young families in the Springfield metropolitan area. However, this population growth was not accompanied by commercial growth. An imbalanced and overwhelmingly residential tax base posed challenges to under-resourced public entities. Most workers (80%) also commuted out of the county each day. This generated fewer sales for local businesses and endangered sales tax revenue, which compromised the single biggest revenue source for Nixa (32%) and Ozark (26%).
Facing these challenges to fiscal sustainability, the Cities of Nixa and Ozark, their chambers of commerce, and Christian County came together to hire TIP Strategies to prepare an economic development strategic plan. TIP focused on strategies that would help the region collaboratively recruit and retain businesses and create more employment opportunities. The resulting plan highlighted several goals: 1) ensure that Christian County communities have the resources needed to support business expansion, formation, and attraction; 2) provide a regulatory environment and infrastructure to support the creation of employment centers across the county; and 3) build a strong sense of identity in Christian County as a magnet for talent in the Springfield region. TIP also identified area-specific economic development projects to help enact a shared regional vision for economic growth. Priority projects included regional initiatives (attracting back-office medical operations, pursuing high-capacity broadband access, and prioritizing investment along the Highway 14 corridor); as well as those specific to Nixa (expanding the inventory of industrial and business sites, taking an active role in retail recruitment, and creating a family-oriented entertainment destination); and Ozark (continuing efforts to revitalize its historic downtown, facilitating the development of the Highway 65 corridor, and taking steps to position Air Park South with developers).