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Communities of Excellence (COE) is developing a process to work smarter and create positive outcomes. The first charge of business was to learn a common language that will enable our community to work together. Our city, hospital, school district, private businesses, civic groups and non-profits are working within the same geographic region, sometimes addressing the same problems and working with the same customers, but not always working together. In the second year with COE, our work is organized into task force groups –Economic Vitality, Wellness/Healthcare, Education, Housing, and Communications, so we can work intently to develop solutions by working together. The task force groups are ready to utilize the data sources and survey results to confirm the perceptions of our residents and customers.
Last summer, we discovered a data source, Enterprise’s Opportunity 360 that presented the data in a very interesting way, that defined Excelsior Springs as a tale of two cities. The data regions represent Excelsior Springs between the Railroad tracks and Williams Creek on the west side of town and Excelsior Springs between the Railroad tracks and the Ray County line on the east side of town. I want to share this data and I think you will find it interesting. One thing this data says to me, is our location in the region does not impact one’s ability to succeed. The reasons are more varied than that
What follows is census data that pertains to what type of jobs are in Excelsior Springs, who holds those jobs, and what the wages are for those jobs. The data is useful to understand what is currently happening. To address the two top priorities expressed by our community we have to figure out how to connect our residents to these jobs and prepare them for work they desire. The data tells us, our education index is lower than our neighbors and there is a connection to educational attainment, health/wellness, housing stability and economic security.
*red indicates the indicator is trending in a negative direction
In the Fall of 2019, Communities of Excellence conducted a citizen’s survey to identify the issues that needed attention in Excelsior Springs. Four hundred and thirty-nine responses to the survey were received. The typical respondent is between the ages of 25-44; has lived in 64024 for more than 10 years, lives within the city limits and lives west of the railroad tracks. The top two issues of concern to those answering the survey pertain to the economy of Excelsior Springs along with additional comments provided to clarify concerns:
• 62% concerned about availability of local living wage jobs
o Lower level jobs are slowly disappearing
o More skilled jobs would be beneficial
o Very hard to find a livable wage nearby without having to leave Excelsior
o Local jobs, specifically local government jobs, don’t pay enough
• 55% concerned about economic vitality
o A lot of businesses are going out of business and fewer jobs are available
o If we want to be a prosperous community that doesn’t have a high poverty level we need to quit focusing on poverty and begin focusing on what we have that’s good and unique to encourage people into our community that have expendable incomes; and have the resources to support the businesses were are trying to build and bring to the community
o Job seekers display poor work ethics; we would be better off figuring out a way to attract new job seekers into this town through improved transportation, affordable housing and possibly offering a vocational school that will offer a variety of classes
o There are not many new businesses moving into community
o Lack of big companies so must go to Liberty or KC to make a good wage.
o ES is mostly minimum wage or just above and mostly food service or sales
The first thing that comes to mind after reading about living wage job concerns, are the concerns expressed by business owners in Excelsior Springs. I have interviewed our large employers about issues they encounter, and they express concerns over hiring difficulty when filling job openings. People who lack employment readiness and/or job skills. So, where is the disconnect? The COE Economic Vitality Task Force is made up of business owners, managers and economic development professionals and they are given the task of sorting out the perceptions expressed by survey respondents and collecting additional data if necessary, in order to define solutions that can be implemented to address the concerns expressed. Part of the disconnect will certainly point back to the variance between the east side vs west side demographics and the interesting statement about where to focus attention. Is too much attention focused on poverty while short-changing those who are not in poverty?
This year, the Economic Vitality Task Force will be working to define solutions with an eye toward improving our economy and personal well-being, and a goal to complete this phase of their work by late summer 2020.
Below is additional data to help define the economic climate of Excelsior Springs. Excelsior Springs by the numbers, so to speak.
In 2017, Excelsior Springs, MO had a population of 11.6k people with a median age of 33.3 and a median household income of $49,029. Between 2016 and 2017 the population of Excelsior Springs, MO grew from 11,480 to 11,555, a 0.653% increase and its median household income grew from $48,523 to $49,029, a 1.04% increase.
The economy of Excelsior Springs, MO employs 5.14k people. The largest industries in Excelsior Springs, MO are Manufacturing (858 people), Health Care & Social Assistance (802 people), and Other Services, except Public Administration (449 people), and the highest paying industries are Professional, Scientific, & Technical Services ($63,168), Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting, & Mining ($51,161), and Construction $47,852).
Median household income in Excelsior Springs, MO is $49,029. Males in Excelsior Springs, MO have an average income that is 137 times higher than the average income of females, which is $43,527. The income inequality in Excelsior Springs, MO (measured using the Gini index) is 0.462, which is lower than the national average.
The Chart below illustrates there are 4,693 jobs in Excelsior Springs (2017); 3,741 of those jobs are held by workers residing outside of Excelsior Springs, and 3,976 residents of Excelsior Springs commute to jobs outside of Excelsior Springs, while 952 jobs in Excelsior Springs are filled with workers who also live in Excelsior Springs.
The chart below is an illustration of where Excelsior Springs workers reside:
The chart below is an illustration of where Excelsior Springs residents work: