An agreement for the city of Joplin to give $1.5 million of its nearly $13.8 million American Rescue Plan Act funding to Missouri Southern State University will be considered Monday by the City Council.
The money would go toward the $30 million MSSU needs to build a Health Science Innovation Center. The center is one of the capital projects to receive funding from Gov. Mike Parson’s $470 million allocation in the state budget for building needs at the state’s colleges and universities.
Dean Van Galen, university president, told the governor during a February visit to MSSU that Joplin serves as a hub for health sciences for the Four-State Area.
“This will help us expand our health science programs, including nursing, but more than anything provide an opportunity to partner with businesses, health care professionals and our community to further that broader vision of who we are and what we could be in the region as a center for excellence in health care and health science,” Van Galen said.
MSSU is to receive $15 million from the state’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for the project. The state allocation will need to be matched using investments from governmental bodies such as cities, counties, private foundations and individual donors.
The City Council in July voted on priorities for use of the city’s ARPA funding from a list 70 potential projects. That list was compiled from city staff selections and council selections.
Mayor Doug Lawson asked at that meeting about the ranking of a grant sought by Missouri Southern State University, which came in low on city staff’s list but higher on the council list.
It was explained at that meeting that Missouri Southern officials said there is a critical need for health care workers in Joplin’s medical and dental industries.
The council then agreed to move funding for the MSSU project to the top 20 priority list.
Terms of the city’s agreement with MSSU for the money state that the university would need to raise all its needed funding by June 30, 2024. If the university does not raise the money by that date, the agreement can be terminated.