By Ryan Richardson
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A company that has been instrumental in designing Joplin’s infrastructure after the May 22, 2011, tornado is expanding with the help of a low-interest loan from a revived state program.
Corner Greer & Associates, based at 716 S. Main Street in downtown Joplin, secured a $351,000 loan via the Missouri Linked Deposit Program through the office of Clint Zweifel, state treasurer. The program is designed to allow businesses with fewer than 99 employees the opportunity to secure funding at a much lower interest rate than normally available. Architect Doug Corner said that the loan the company took out helped refinance the cost of a new location for the firm.
“This has been in motion for about six months now,” Corner said. “Getting the loan through the Linked Deposit Program will help us continue to grow.”
Corner indicated that the company will add jobs because of the new building space. Currently, the firm has nine employees.
“That is our goal,” Corner said. “We want to keep growing and hire more.”
The Missouri Linked Deposit Program is an initiative managed by Zweifel’s office, which has secured nearly $1.1 billion in low-interest loans from 130 lenders across the state. Based on projections from Zweifel, the program is expected to affect nearly 20,000 jobs and farms throughout Missouri. The program has seen a revival since Zweifel took office in 2008.
“Everything had fallen by the wayside and it wasn’t something that a lot of businesses looked into,” Zweifel said. “We wanted to reform and retool the way that we could get money out there with this program, and we got it to pass unanimously. I wanted this to succeed because I have a profound appreciation of the power that (the loans) have to transform a community.”
That transformation happened in Joplin with Sign Designs and Anderson Engineering — both of which took advantage of the loan program. Sign Designs secured $180,000, while Anderson Engineering took advantage of $38,000 that was made available.
“Both of the companies that received the loans played a part in the recovery process,” Zweifel said. “These are the businesses that can be the key to recovery. Providing that kind of environment, by getting them the capital they need, will help them thrive.”
Even before receiving its loan, Corner Greer & Associates has had an affect on Joplin.
The firm received national acclaim for its projects that came in the wake of the devastation from the 2011 tornado. The group was responsible for designing and implementing the Joplin High School interim campus during the 2011-12 school year. Starting 11 days after the tornado hit, the firm had identified a 96,000-square-foot big-box store attached to Northpark Mall as the site for the interim campus for 11th- and 12th-graders, and had the project completed in time for the start of school in August.
For its efforts in completing the school, the firm was awarded the CEFPI James D. MacConnell Award, which recognizes a comprehensive planning process that results in educational campuses that serve the community.
Corner Greer & Associates will also handle the new Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center, projected to be completed in 2014. The school is expected to handle an enrollment of almost 2,500 students.