Photo by Brandon Alms
Katie Jones believes in the potential of southwest Missouri. Through her role at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, she makes believers out of young professionals through initiatives like The Network for Springfield’s Young Professionals and spearheading its first SGForum event and now planning a second.
On Tapping Into Young Talent
“I think that we really need to focus on trying to retain more college students in Springfield.” Jones says. “College students bring a really exciting energy to a community. We have a natural pool of talent from all of our universities. I would love to see the continued effort to retain college students [...] I think part of that retention is to continue to be laser-focused on pouring all of our investment into making Springfield a really attractive and competitive community.”
On What's Kept Her in Springfield
“We always joke at the Chamber that no one ever goes to college to work for a chamber of commerce because a lot of people don't really understand everything we do,” Jones says. “It's definitely not a role that I pictured myself in beforehand, but I kind of took a leap of faith and the rest is history.”
Jones had planned to move away from Springfield until a visit to Drury University. “I fell in love with Drury,” she says. “That’s where Addison [husband Addison Jones] and I met.” Since starting at the Chamber in 2017, Jones has been managing the Network, a committee within the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce for young professionals under 40. “It's kind of funny that part of my job is talking to college students about staying in Springfield,” she says. “When I started college, I didn’t want to stay here. At first it was really circumstances that kept us here, but after we decided to stay it didn’t take us long to realize it was not by accident. It’s easy to think the place you grew up in isn’t ‘cool.’ I think that’s a stigma a lot of people need to get over—it was something I had to get over. Once I did, I realized what an amazing community Springfield is... Most of my friends actually moved to L.A. after high school and college and it’s really fun when they come back to Springfield to visit. We’ll go up to Vantage, and they’re like, ‘Wait, this is in Springfield?’”