Plans for the future of the former Joplin Public Library Building at 300 S. Main St. were presented during a Joplin City Council work session on Monday, Feb. 22.

The LaunchPad project will be a collaboration between the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Southern, the city of Joplin and area school districts. Dr. Dean Van Galen, president of Missouri Southern, and Toby Teeter, president of the Joplin Chamber, each spoke during the work session to offer perspective on the benefits of the program.

“It would provide Missouri Southern with a downtown presence that will be a new front door for the campus,” said Van Galen. “The internship hub will better connect our students with internship opportunities, especially with downtown businesses and other organizations.”

The proposal for the building includes:

  • A culinary incubator, with indoor and outdoor seating
  • An entrepreneurial hub in collaboration with the chamber, MSSU and other community partners
  • An economic development hub for the city’s economic development team, MOKAN Partnership, Downtown Joplin Alliance, and the Joplin Regional Community Foundation
  • MSSU Downtown Center, which would serve as a “front door” for the university to engage businesses, prospective students, alumni and the community. It would feature the Small Business Development Center, an internship hub, and the Center for Advanced Professional Studies – a dual-credit program for high-school students focusing on applied tech/innovation, real-world projects and entrepreneurial learning.
  • CodeLab – free/subsidized adult learn-to-code classes
  • Remote/Coworking Learning Resource Center

Funding for the proposed $10 million LaunchPad project is still under discussion but could include grant funding.

“The will be more conversation among the council members as they look at it in more detail and address the question of funding for renovations to make the project a reality,” said Van Galen.