Bankers finance building for Scholastic Inc.

Rick Rogers

Representatives of seven banking institutions came together Wednesday morning to sign loan documents to finance the $1.4 million the Neosho Area Business and Industrial Foundation spent to build a 25,000-square-foot building that will serve as the new home of Scholastic Inc. in Neosho.

The building is located at 3300 Howard Bush Drive in the Neosho Industrial Park.

The building project was the result of the March floods, which caused Scholastic Inc. to move from its location on Harmony Street to a temporary location at Crowder College. According to NABIFI officials, shortly after the move, Scholastic officials notified the Neosho Department of Economic Development that the company would not be returning to its Harmony Street location and would begin a state and national search for a new home.

Scholastic employs approximately 350 people at its Neosho location.

Neosho offered several buildings, but Scholastic officials believed the only building that would fit its needs was the spec building at 3300 Howard Bush Drive.

And there was a catch. The building, which was a shell, had to be completed in 90 days so Scholastic could serve its customers as it prepared to enter its busiest time of year with school about to start. The project of finishing the spec building was completed in 58 days, and Scholastic now occupies the building.

The NABIFI board worked with Scholastic to sign a lease that allowed NABIFI to secure funds to finish out the building.

On Wednesday morning, representatives of seven local banking institutions — Arvest Bank, Boulevard Bank, Community Bank & Trust, First Community Bank, Hometown Bank, Southwest Missouri Bank, and U.S. Bank — gathered at SMB’s Neosho Boulevard location to officially sign the loan documents. The actions taken on Wednesday will complete the final step in the process of keeping Scholastic in Neosho.

“I am a hometown guy, and most of the people sitting at this table are, and I want to say thank you to each of you and your organizations,” said Jim Smallwood, chairman of the NABIFI board.

“I consider Neosho to be a family. We were able to keep 350 of our family members employed that possibly would have lost those jobs. It is amazing to me that we can set aside

competitiveness to come together and make sure these families are taken care of. I appreciate, personally, everyone’s hard work on this, as well to members of the (NABIFI board).”

Smallwood said getting the spec building ready for Scholastic in 90 days was a challenge, but because of the hard work of members of the community it was completed in 58 days.

“We banded together, and got a lot of different individuals together in this community, from concrete work to interior construction, to telecommunications, and the city had to do a lot of work, and we were able to pull this off,” Smallwood said. “It is just a very amazing project that was able to happen that fast.”

Gib Garrow, executive director of the Neosho Department of Economic Department, said the Neosho community had an opportunity to react to the serious situation of Scholastic leaving town, and it reacted positively.

“We touched base with the different banking institutions, and they said they would be in,” Garrow said. “We were able to finish out the building. I would compare it to the days when Fort Crowder closed and some of the institutions here came together and formed a company called Neosho Industries Inc., and bought land from the GSA and that is how the industrial park started. I think it is that kind of effort, and spirit that is in Neosho that really makes us successful and makes us the community we are. Every project we have, the banks are willing to step up to the plate, and this was a very important one (keeping Scholastic in Neosho).”

Neosho Daily News