Lake area municipalities are reporting an increase in sales tax, county officials are seeing an uptick in assessed valuation, and applications for construction permits are climbing — all good indicators of strong and steady growth.

Lake area municipalities are reporting an increase in sales tax, county officials are seeing an uptick in assessed valuation, and applications for construction permits are climbing — all good indicators of strong and steady growth. 

According to an economy overview provided by the University Missouri Extension, local population and jobs have been trending upward and are expected to continue to rise. The construction industry is listed as the third largest growing industry in Camden and Morgan counties, coming in number five in Miller County. Add to that, the real estate market is booming and the tourism industry continues to thrive. Things are looking good at Lake of the Ozarks. 

Let’s take a look at what some local officials have to say about the Lake’s growing industries. 

 

CONSTRUCTION & GROWING MARKETS 

Based on permits filed through the city of Lake Ozark, from January to June of this year, $10.6 million in estimated construction is scheduled to be completed. One of those permits was for a new commercial education building for School of the Osage, estimated to cost $6.6 million. Other projects include new commercial and residential buildings, as well as remodeling projects.

The city of Osage Beach saw a total value of $5.5 million in permitted construction projects filed from January-June this year. Some of the bigger commercial projects include(d) a $1 million remodel of the former Osage Beach Lodge, a $350,000 remodel of the Holiday Inn Express, a $400,000 commercial addition at Dugan’s Paint, and a $600,000 remodel of Parkway Bay Condos. There were 130 permits filed that included plans for many new residential construction, remodels and commercial projects.

According to Camden County Assessor Marty McGuire, the county has been experiencing small and steady growth for a number of years. Camden County has a total assessed valuation on real estate of $1.357 billion. That includes residential, agriculture and commercial real estate. Personal property (cars, boats, docks, etc.) is valued at $295 million. 

McGuire says looking back, values have steadily increased each year but there has not been a big “boom,” which he says is preferred. Steady increases make for a more stable economy. 

Morgan County Presiding Commissioner Tony Stephens says they are seeing commercial growth in the northwest part of the county. Several new businesses have gone up along west Highway 52. The Mennonite community continues to increase in both population and business growth. Three new restaurants within the city limits of Versailles have opened in the last four years and several other businesses in town have expanded or opened additional locations within the county. 

“I feel Morgan County as a whole is showing growth in business and is steady in population growth. I think this year is going to show good numbers from people continuing to vacation and spend more time in our area,” Stephens said. 

 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 

According to Jeana Woods, president of the Lake of the Ozarks Regional Economic Development Council and the Osage Beach city administrator, the two issues they’ve been focusing a lot of attention on is housing and the workforce. There has been a large need for more affordable housing that meets the demand for all demographics in the area, she says, and it proves that the area is growing. Connecting those who can build with those who can buy/rent is key. 

“We have a lot of workers, and we want them to live where they work,” Woods said. “That builds stronger communities.”

According to a recent housing study done by LOREDC, more families are migrating to the Lake. The area has an exceptional quality of life to offer with a low cost of living, great schools and large park systems. 

While there has been some notable projects with in the city that are making affordable housing available, many significant commercial projects have also been in the works. 

She points to a few commercial projects such as a $500,000 expansion at Miner Mike’s and the new construction taking place at School of the Osage. There is also the Osage Beach Commons project, a 13 acre retail project that is still in the planning stages but will offer new development and leasing opportunities for businesses.  It will be located near the Osage Beach Marketplace off of the Passover Road exit. Woods says developers are very strategic in filling the gaps in the market by providing products and services that will meet the demand of the area.

Also, earlier this summer it was announced that Old Navy would be coming to the Prewitt’s Point development next to Target in the spring of 2020. Plans are to build a 12,500 square-foot store. 

“We’ve definitely seen an increase and investment in the community in the commercial and industrial industries,” Woods said. 

The biggest project has been the announcement of Arrowhead Development, a 226-acre, five-phase project that has a diverse mix of retail, entertainment, and residential components planned on land located down Route KK. The first business to open within the development is the Arrowhead Senior Living facility. 

The next phase of the project could be the construction of a tournament-sized soccer complex, spearheaded by the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau and Tri-County Lodging Association. According to CVB executive director Tim Jacobsen, discussion has been taking place for several years over building a soccer complex at Lake of the Ozarks. A spot was selected within Arrowhead Development after evaluating locations around the Lake and thanks to the donation of the land by developer Gary Mitchell. 

Proponents of the facility say a soccer complex would funnel new visitors to the area, brining them to the Lake during the “shoulder season,” in the spring and fall when most competitive teams play. A feasibility study shows that a 12-field soccer complex could draw hundreds of traveling teams (and their families) to the Lake, resulting in a $75 million economic impact for the Lake area each year. 

If all goes as planned, the complex would move forward if voters approve a 3 percent lodging tax increase on the November ballot. The increased lodging tax would pay for construction of the complex. 

“It would bring families to Lake of the Ozarks who wouldn’t be here,” Jacobsen said. “We know how the cycle works. People come to Lake of the Ozarks and experience it, and come back.”