New Chamber President on Springfield’s Future, Right to Work

Aug 24, 2014

Credit Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce

The new president and CEO of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce is expected to be in place this fall. On Wednesday, the Chamber announced the appointment of Matt Morrow to the post. KSMU’s Alissa Zhu spoke with the Bolivar native and has this report.

Morrow attended college in his home town at Southwest Baptist University. A radio broadcaster in the 1990s, Morrow then expanded his horizons to politics.

He worked as an aid for then-Missouri Senator John Ashcroft and lived in Washington D.C. for a number of years, returning to Missouri to serve as the CEO of the Homebuilders Association of Greater Springfield. Morrow held the position for 12 years before accepting the position of executive vice president and CEO of the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.

“I’m just very excited to be coming back to Springfield,” said Morrow.

Springfield has an enormous draw for businesses and individuals, said Morrow.

“The city of Springfield, the region, is kind of the economic engine of the state of Missouri. In terms of where the population growth and economic growth and lower unemployment rates – all of those things are happening in Springfield and in the southwest Missouri region,” said Morrow.

Morrow said the Chamber of Commerce will focus its efforts of advocating on behalf of business and industry by helping foster an environment with low barriers to doing business. One issue that Morrow sees as a restriction to economic development is the fact that Missouri is not a “Right to Work” state. The controversial legislation which failed to pass through the Missouri House of Representatives in the spring would have prohibited requiring payment of union dues as a condition of employment.

“That’s a significant barrier to relocation of business and industry to Missouri if it’s coming from some other part of the country that really just takes us out of the running. That’s just one example but there are a million other things you can work on and try to foster greater success,” Morrow said.

Morrow said he believes the Chamber is in a very strong position to advocate for issues like “Right to Work” and supporting business opportunities in the local community.

“The key issues, whether you’re talking about the city government level or county, state government, they’re all going to be related to a growing economy, to creating jobs, and to really fostering economic opportunities for everybody who lives in the area,” Morrow said.

He adds that when the Chamber is successful, it allows for more opportunities for jobs and economic prosperity.

“A lot of people, I think, just sort of assume those kinds of things either happen or they don’t. They don’t all realize there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make those opportunities into realities and so I think those are things that the Chamber does very, very well,” said Morrow.

Morrow anticipates he will take on his new position at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce in October. The Chamber has around 2,000 members, representing more than 100,000 employees.