MCB Feels Like Home Tour - Visit Results

DED/MCB Community Visit

Lamar – April 1, 2016

Business Leaders

  1. Issues and Concerns:
    1. Difficulty in pairing qualified applicants with available job opportunities
    2. Unsuccessful in attracting new businesses
    3. Need improvement in marketing industrial/commercial development sites
    4. Lack of a lead contact for business development projects
    5. Vacant former hospital building with asbestos issues
  2. Positive Actions:
    1. Barton County is now a Certified Work Ready Community (CWRC)
    2. Member of the Joplin Regional Partnership
    3. A labor basin study is currently under development
    4. Community has rail-available sites



  • Development of entrepreneurship classes at Lamar High School.
  • Small Business Technology Development Centers (SBTDC) offer business planning and marketing classes.
  • Utilize relationship with Joplin Regional Partnership for assistance on a defined business retention and expansion program.
  • Create a document outlining local incentives.
  • Work with Jeff Gettys, MoDED Business Development Specialist, to better understand available state incentives and to identify other resource partners.
  • Update Location One with pictures, prices, and accurate site/building descriptions. The more information the better.
  • Continue to foster relationships with existing business owners.
  • Update website presence with local Economic Development contact information, available incentives, properties and testimonials from existing businesses.
  • Pursue Brownfield Redevelopment Program to assist with the assessment and remediation of hazardous substances in vacant hospital building. MO Brownfields Voluntary Cleanup Program
  • Look into MO Certified Sites Program for recommendations on site ready needs.


Local Government

  1. Issues and Concerns:
    1. Lack of documented public infrastructure around Wal-Mart site
      1. Slow and costly broadband service
      2. Hospital has reached broadband capacity
    2. Vacant buildings
    3. Lack of unified marketing strategy
    4. Lack of marketing effort in regards to developable sites
    5. Infrastructure funding
    6. Inflow and infiltration issues in the wastewater collection system
    7. Lamar Heights is struggling with broadband capacity
    8. Vacant former hospital building with asbestos issues
  2. Positive Actions:
    1. Excess capacity for both water and sewer and a recent completion of major upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility
    2. Community has an interest in the development of a small business incubator
    3. Developable properties available to business prospects
    4. Code enforcement does not appear to be an issue



  • Potential loan/grant opportunities for infrastructure needs through MO Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, and Community Development Block Grants through MO Department of Economic Development.
  • MO Rural Water Association offers a range of technical assistance for wastewater and drinking water, including assessments for inflow and infiltration.
  • Funding for an incubator in a community the size of Lamar could be challenging.
  • MoDED Community Development Block Grant program to assist with demolition of dilapidated buildings as well as infrastructure needs. CDBG
  • Contact MoDED Division of Energy for grant possibilities to conduct energy usage audit and energy usage loan program. Division of Energy
  • Pursue Brownfield Redevelopment Program to assist with the assessment and remediation of hazardous substances in vacant hospital building. MO Brownfields Voluntary Cleanup Program   
  • Develop a comprehensive study of attractions within the community and construct a marketing strategy highlighting key activities throughout the year.
  • Increase the branding of Harry S Truman and Wyatt Earp.
  • Continue to improve cooperation between County and Cities.
  • Market available sites and building on Location One

Lamar Community Betterment

  1. Issues and Concerns
    1. Placement of Lamar Community Betterment “Welcome” sign
    2. Funding for T.A.T.S.
    3. Barton Co. Memorial Hospital’s Community Health Needs Assessment
    4. Need for a community facility/fitness center
    5. Need for a walking trail and sidewalk improvements
  2. Positive Actions:
    1. Small town feel
    2. Excellent historical structures and marketability downtown
    3. Drive-In Theater
    4. Nathan’s Place



  • Make sure the planned welcome sign is consistent with the community brand/identity.
  • Revisit alternative locations to display welcome sign.
  • Potential assistance available through the Neighborhood Assistance Program NAP to help with funding for a community facility and Nathan’s Place.
  • Discuss with the hospital the potential of building a fitness center for rehabilitation services, use by their employees and one that the community could purchase memberships.
  • Reach out to local and regional publications to do more articles on the community, local businesses, and festivals.
  • Increase marketing efforts of the downtown and drive-in theater.
  • HUD offers funding opportunities to help communities realize their own visions for building more livable, walkable, and environmentally sustainable regions.
  • DOT offers funding opportunities to support more livable walkable communities.
  • MO Department of Natural Resources offers Outdoor Recreation grants that can be used to develop parks and trails.
  • EPA offers grants to support activities that improve the quality of development and protect human health and the environment.
  • Develop an informative and activity website and Facebook page for residents to use and share ideas and experiences within the community.
    • Engage students in these activities.




Lamar Schools and Youth

  1. Issues and Concerns:
  2. Need for more after school activities
  3. Increase staff and student community engagement
  4. Lack of STEM courses and Project Lead the Way
  5. No current avenue to pursue GED
  6. Lack of microscopes and need for more graphing calculators
  7. Deterioration of observatory
  8. Positives Actions:
  9. Strong community pride
  10. High graduation rate
  11. Attendance is stable
  12. Movie theatre and drive-in



  • Continue support to help fund Nathan’s Place. NAP may be a potential funding resource. 
  • Identify ways to engage students with existing businesses in the community (Go-Caps Program, School Flex Program, etc.) to reduce youth flight.
  • Increase school district participation during community wide events.
  • Increase cultural community events geared around art and music.
  • Work with Lamar Chamber of Commerce in developing a program for identifying students that want to enter the workforce after graduation.
  • Contact USDA about their Community Facility Program regarding the need for microscopes. USDA Community Facilities
  • Contact Missouri Development Finance Board MDFB and USDA Rural Development USDA regarding the community observatory redevelopment.       



Overall Observations

  • The city has done a very good job in minimizing dilapidated buildings, which affects the property values and community pride, as well as provides an initial perception by potential new businesses and talent.
  • Lamar is doing a great job maintaining their drinking water and wastewater infrastructure assets.
  • Strong sense of community pride around the Lamar School Systems.
  • Lamar has the ability to better market the fact they are the “birthplace of Harry S Truman”
  • Please be sure to utilize the contact list on the last page for agency contact information.



  • Create a program for students to intern with local businesses prior to graduation.
  • Continue to utilize and promote the Certified Work Ready Community program.
  • Develop a career fair to introduce students to the community employers.
  • Develop adult learning classes in order for individuals to obtain their GED.
  • Work with Joplin Regional Partnership on a 3rd party validation process to document the current workforce.



  • Pursue MoDNR, USDA, and CDBG grants to assist with infrastructure needs.
  • MO Rural Water Association for assistance.
  • Continue to research the possibility of connecting Lamar and Lamar Heights. The MoDNR Rural Sewer Grant is a possible resource to help with this cost. 
  • Contact Missouri State Parks, division of MoDNR, regarding Outdoor Recreation grants for new walking trails within the community.


Business Development

  • Identify one point of contact for business expansion and attraction.
  • Continue marketing available sites and buildings on MO Location One:

Location One

  • Consider pursuing MO Certified Sites program:

MO Certified Sites 

  • Increase marketing efforts surrounding Harry S Truman and Wyatt Earp
  • Continue working with Joplin Regional Partnership. Utilization of e-Synchronist through JRP.
  • Focus attention on the need to have a regional marketing focus.
  • Implement quarterly community meetings with local HR/Plant Managers.
  • Reach out to Lamar High School alumni inviting them, along with their business and contacts, back to the community.
  • Educate community leaders, including bankers, accountants, city officials, etc. on how to communicate with business developers.



  • Cost and risk associated with a business incubator may be too high for a community of this size.
  • Work with the school district on developing entrepreneurship classes.
  • SBDTC – Business Planning and Marketing classes.



  • Conduct a county wide study of the needs of the community and number/type of available properties.
  • Study the potential of retirement housing within the county and possibilities of marketing in Bella Vista.
  • Connect with the Harry S Truman Regional Planning Commission.
  • Consider the possibility of loft housing in the historic downtown square.



  • Please reference “Tourism Summary” attached.


Missouri Community Betterment

  • Utilize our “Before You Ask” form for project funding assistance.
  • Attend the Fall Conference for sessions related to issues mentioned above.
  • A 6-month follow up will be scheduled with the community to assist with moving forward on this report and other needs.



Assessment Team:


Mike Downing – Director, MO Dept. of Economic Development

                                        (573) 751-5799


Jeff Gettys – Business Development Specialist, MO Dept. of Economic Development

                                               (417) 829-0235


Luke Holtschneider – Rural Development Manager, MO Dept. of Economic Development

                                 (573) 751-4999


Christa Atchison – Executive Director, Missouri Community Betterment

                     (660) 525-1338


Theresa Ballew – Workforce Coordinator, MO Division of Workforce Development

                                       (417) 887-4343


Clint O’Neal – V.P., Business Recruitment, Missouri Partnership

                                   (314) 725-0949


Alan Freeman – Marketing Specialist, MO Dept. of Agriculture

                                        (573) 526-4620


Kathy Macomber – Community Development Specialist/Program Director, UM Extension

                                          (417) 682-3579


Randall Willoughby – Southwest Regional Office, MO Dept. of Natural Resources

                                 (417) 891-4382


Gwenda Bassett – Watershed and Community Services Coordinator, MoDNR

                                      (417) 888-4046


Shawn Pingleton – Manager of Business and Community Development, Empire District Electric

                                   (800) 639-0077 x 2741


Mark Dawson – District Community Affairs Manager, KCP&L

                                              (816) 922-7103


Jill Cornett – Executive Director, Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council

                                                      (417) 649-6400


Jason Jones – Executive Director, Workforce Investment Board of Southwest Missouri

                                               (417) 206-1717 x 106


Greg Batson – Program Support Director, USDA Rural Development

                                     (573) 876-9312


Stephen Foutes – Public Relations Specialist, MO Division of Tourism

                           (573) 751-3208


Dr. Adam Morris – Associate VP of Academic Affairs, Crowder College

                                          (417) 455-5740