Tom Prater on the Future of Springfield and How to Get Involved

Tom Prater is the team chair for the Forward SGF comprehensive plan, tasked with creating a blueprint for the next 20 years for the city. He joined us for drinks at Nicola's Ristorante to talk about the input the city is receiving and how to get involved.

By Jeff Houghton

Jan 2020

Dr. Tom Prater talking with Jeff Houghton in Springfield MO
Photo by Brad ZweerinkDr. Tom Prater is leading the charge for the City of Springfield's comprehensive planning process, Forward SGF.

“Great cities are intentional, and if you’re not going to take some steps to make a great and better place than it is right now, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

“I think Springfield is on the cusp, or the tipping point, and if you’re going to tip things the right way, then you’re going to be way ahead 20 years from now.”

“When Vision 2020 happened, walkability never came up. Now, every group we go to, walkability is in the top five.”

“I have no expertise, I do eye surgery for Pete’s sake as my day job. So why am I doing this? I spent six years on school board [and] four years on city council, and I obviously have an interest in what happens to Springfield.”

“If your heart’s not in it and you don’t buy into the mission, you’re going to be wasting your time and their time. If you can find something that speaks to you, that’s where you need to be.”
— Dr. Tom Prater

“My mom told me years ago, ‘Look, if you’re going to live here, you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to help.’”

“There are all kinds of opportunities for people to get involved. For younger people there’s The Network, there’s Rotaract, there are a lot of entities that take young talent and can help plug it in.”

“We have a lot of people with a lot of talent that just don’t tend to volunteer.”

“You’ve got a city manager that gets it, a city council who’s willing to take the steps forward, and I hope we’ve got private investors who are willing to step up and invest.”

“I think we’re really getting there. I’m kind of optimistic, I mean I’ll be in a nursing home for a lot of it.”

Why Not Here?


Springfield is on the cusp of a placemaking renaissance. Biz 417 took a deeper dive into six potential projects that could be the tipping point toward greatness for southwest Missouri. Read the full story here.

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