The Sustainable Ozarks Partnership (SOP) staff would like to wish everyone across the Fort Leonard Wood Region a Happy New Year!
As we welcome in 2020, we would like to first express our sincere appreciation to all of our Sustaining Members, members at large, leadership, volunteers, and supporters that have helped us continue working to strengthen Fort Leonard Wood (FLW) and the FLW Region.
The unwavering support for “National Defense in the Heart of America” that you all represent is remarkable. Specifically, your involvement in our organization enables us to continue leveraging partnerships that we believe will ensure a strong future for FLW, servicemen and women, families, retirees, veterans and our communities.
Over the past eight years, the SOP has worked successfully in pursuit of the organization’s vision of: regional communities, governments and organizations, FLW, and state and federal enablers working together as stakeholders to make the region an even better place to live, work and play, while enhancing FLW mission success and advocating for FLW mission sustainment and growth. Our collective success is a testament to the tremendous support that SOP enjoys from across the four-county region and from our state and federal governmental leaders.
As we reflect back on 2019, we are very proud of the many successes we, as a region, have experienced in large part due to our stakeholders' trust, confidence, and active participation in the SOP.
In 2019, we saw the Military Construction project for a new Army hospital on FLW be awarded (over 700 jobs are expected to be created here in the region during the life of the construction project); secured 30-passenger jet service to our regional airport; developed a national marketing program to promote regional tourism, retain and recruit veterans and families in the region and recruit new businesses to the region, also creating a library of professionally developed regional videos; collaborated with FLW, Army Medical Research and Material Command, Phelps Health and various research universities in unique regional Traumatic Brain Injury consortium; supported the Waynesville R-VI school district hosting the first regional Salute to Service ceremony which received Army-wide and national media coverage; successfully advocated for the establishment of the Missouri chapter of Blue Star Families; advocated for a signed Memorandum of Understanding between Ozark Technical College and FLW to provide vocational and technical programs for service members and family members (credentialing and certifications); advocated with State Legislators for the establishment of the Missouri Military Community Reinvestment Grant Program and recent appropriations to fund this program that supports defense community support organizations like SOP; supported the four county regional collaboration with FLW to help enhance the regional tourism and recreation experience for military connected visitors, military members and their families, and community members.
We were also very excited this year to learn and promote that wallethub.com named FLW the 6th best place in the state of Missouri to raise a family and also that the Center for New American Security ranked Missouri 2nd in the country for the number of state programs and benefits for veterans.
At various points throughout 2019 we had several members of our Congressional Delegation (CODEL) including Senator Blunt and Representative Hartzler make visits to FLW and our communities. Governor Parson and Lt. Governor Kehoe visited the region several times. In keeping with our approach of working closely with our CODEL, our team traveled to Washington where we met directly with Senators Blunt and Hawley, as well as Representatives Hartzler and Smith. These trips are very beneficial. We typically have broad representation from our region and are able to communicate our top priorities to our federal leaders.
Our SOP team has been and will remain active in several national organizations by attending national level events including the Association of Defense Communities’ (ADC) Installation Innovation Forum and National Summit, and the Association of the United States Army's (AUSA) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. We attend these events alongside many of our FLW senior leaders, Soldiers of Excellence, and community leaders. These continue to be great opportunities for us to grow our network, represent our region, and learn best practices from the many organizations like ours from across the country.
We have benefited from and will continue to work hand in hand with our partners at the state level, particularly our Missouri Military Advocate Joe Driskill and the Missouri Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission (MMPEC). We are very pleased to see the tremendous progress being made at the state level to the benefit of the military and defense sector and we are glad to be the voice that represents the FLW Region with both of these excellent partners.
In this new year we will continue to pursue our goals through our regional strategic plan. We particularly look forward to working proactively to identify and attract new opportunities for additional defense, non-defense, and industry investments in the FLW Region.
We are proud of the work we do on behalf of the region and we know that our accomplishments ensure the region’s short and long-term success. We remain dedicated to further strengthening our team at the regional, state, and national levels as we continue to aggressively advocate for FLW and our region.
Again, we thank you for your support. We especially appreciate the funding support from both our local municipalities and our regional private sector businesses which directly impact our overall success. We look forward to sharing our accomplishments with you throughout the year as we work together to strengthen FLW, add jobs, and ultimately create a positive economic impact for the region.
Best Wishes for a Prosperous New Year,
Sustainable Ozarks Partnership