There is a growing sense of urgency among business owners on Osage Beach Parkway west of the Grand Glaize Bridge in the wake of continued economic struggles.

There is a growing sense of urgency among business owners on Osage Beach Parkway west of the Grand Glaize Bridge in the wake of continued economic struggles.

Joey Homm, co-owner of City Grill and Blue Room, told about 30 people at meeting of the OB Citizens Advisory Committee Tuesday night that business owners are cutting jobs and employee hours just to stay open.

“We’re in desperation mode right now,” he said. “Some of us are falling. It’s two-minute warning time right now, and we have to get going.”

Homm showed a video of the Parkway in front of his business on the night of July 4, 2013. There were no cars in sight, and the only sound was crickets chattering in the background.

“That’s what we face every night. It doesn’t matter what night it is, holiday or not,” he said. “I’ll go back tonight, Tuesday, and face this and pray that we get some traffic.”

Business owners on “our side” of the bridge are spending more and more time covering labor costs by working longer hours themselves, he said.

“We’re having to cut jobs to pay the bills and cover costs,” he said.

He said any type of new development or business expansion should consider the west side of the Grand Glaize Bridge, and urged the city to do what it could to promote the beleaguered area of the city.

Tuesday night’s meeting was the second for the Citizens Advisory Committee, which convened about a month ago at the suggestion of Mayor Penny Lyons. She asked the group to consider ideas to improve the economic plight of the west end of the city. Several business owners attended in response to the first meeting.

Lyons asked the committee to complete a report by September when the board of aldermen begins budget considerations for 2015.


Joni Walden, owner of Blinds and More on the Parkway, announced she and others on the highway are moving forward with a “Passport to the Parkway” promotion that would provide incentives for shoppers as a way to increase traffic.

“I’ve talked about this at a staff meeting as a way to get more people in our store,” she explained, noting the passport project was already underway when she learned of the committee’s objectives.

She plans to move forward with the idea, enlisting as many business owners as possible for a fall promotion.

Details will be announced later, although she hopes to involve a local charity.

Homm, who welcomed any type of idea to increase business, said in exasperation, “instead of a passport to the parkway, we need traffic to the parkway.”

Major projects

Responding to a question from Homm, city officials explained that the city did not spend or authorize any funds on the Hammons resort complex TIF.

“No money has gone to Hammons, who is out a half million dollars in legal fees defending a lawsuit. That’s money they won’t get back unless they build the project,” City Attorney Ed Rucker explained.

Responding to questions about rumored development of the Kalfran Resort area, Rucker said “we haven’t heard from him.” He said attorneys have contacted the city twice, and understand the city’s TIF rules and how a TIF works.

“Nothing has been brought to the city,” Rucker said.

A multi-million senior retirement community project near Dogwood Hills has received state approval, but nothing has moved forward as yet. The project has been scaled down from an original plan.

“He has the okay to build, but far smaller than originally designed,” Rucker noted.

Economic developer

The concept of Osage Beach employing an economic developer was mentioned again. Business owner Linda Craig offered the idea at the first committee meeting, and Alderman Tom Walker has pledge to move forward.

“I have a real heart for business people and owners. I listened to Joey saying he has to cut corners with traffic now. The city cannot directly invest in any particular business, but the city can invest in the business community as a whole,” he said.

“We have a tremendous staff at city hall, very competent, hard working. There’s not a better staff,” he said. “But there’s no way that a current staff member can take on the duties of an economic director five or six years too late.”

He said one answer is for the city to generate out of its budget funds for an economic specialist.

Other ideas

•Christina Price, an artist who says she wears many hats, proposed an art festival, market or bazaar to drive traffic to the west end. She’s already started a similar project on Highway 5 South. “We’re looking at some big ideas, but it’s really the little solutions, the little hundred-dollar fixes that would benefit our community. There are so many amazing things we can do if we think smaller,” she said.

•Different car enthusiasts and car club members are looking for venues to showcase their vehicles, one audience member noted. In the last five years, he said, the city has lost car shows and cruises, bass tournaments and business to area cities. The Magic Dragon Street Meet was started in the Walmart parking lot with a handful of cars, and has grown to 1,000 vehicles. “And we gave that away,” he said.

•Don Welch, owner of The Quail’s Nest Motel, noted that events bring money to the area. “Yes, it’s our fault that events have gone to other cities,” he said. However, he said the Pub Crawl and the Magic Dragon Car show have had a positive economic impact on Osage Beach. He said economic generators such as Prewitt’s Point, the outlet mall, the hospital and Dierbergs are large economic generators for the city. “A TIF is the only thing that will bring a large economic generator to the city, and that takes years. Events can start immediately.”

•Expanding the sports venues will bring more visitors to the lake.

•The community needs to do something about the negative publicity for the west end. “We need to see this as some great opportunities to invest in the area,” one individual said. “We need to have some kind of positive note rather than this is a dead west end.”