AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

January 12, 2018

Youth, Housing are Key to Growth in Ash Grove
Written by A.J. McCall

The lack of youth staying in Ash Grove after graduation, or returning after college, is a growing issue in the community. I experienced this first hand, when my friends and fellow classmates graduated high school, left Ash Grove for college or work, and never returned.

Ash Grove has little to offer for young families and individuals. There is a limited job market and lack of middle class housing in the community. This is deterring the younger generation from returning to the city and greatly limiting new families who are trying establish in the area.

There is a limited housing market in Ash Grove. Of the houses available, the majority are rental houses. This is not appealing to young families and individuals looking to get established because most are searching for homes to purchase.

One factor in this lack of housing is that the city is landlocked. There are farms and family land surrounding the town leaving no room for expansion or new housing developments. If the housing situation does not improve, there will continue to be a lack of youth returning to the city and young families will choose to establish in other towns. The continued decrease of youth in the city will cause the community (and school district) to suffer.

One potential solution is for the town to buy land north/northeast of Hwy 160 for a housing development. The land could be divided into plots and sold to individuals or developers. From there, new homes would be built and individuals and families would be able to move in. Better housing options would have a positive domino effect on the community. New houses would lead to more members in the community, higher enrollment in schools and new businesses.

For the housing market to increase there has to be a mindset change in the community.

Community members and officials must be open to change and expansion. The second step is the task of obtaining land for building. The city must decide if purchasing land is an investment they can afford or if encouraging developers to come in and buy the land is a better option. Regardless of the route taken, to increase the number of youth returning to and settling in the area, the housing market in Ash Grove must be addressed.

Register for 2018 EXCCEL:

BACKGROUND: The Western Greene County Leadership Academy known as EXCCEL pools emerging leaders from the western side of county including the towns of Republic, Willard, Ash Grove and rural areas in an effort to develop future community leaders. EXCCEL graduates use insights and skills learned to engage in building community networks, make well-informed community decisions and find real solutions to real problems. The program is a partnership between Greene County MU Extension and the Greene County Commonwealth. This Ash Grove editorial published in the Greene County Commonwealth in October as a community service. Subscribe to the Greene County Commonwealth and read MU Extension's EXCCEL team editorials earlier.

Photo available for following caption Photo credit: University of Missouri Extension

Author A.J. McCall

Source: David Burton, (417) 881-8909, (417) 874-2954

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