Springfield City Manager ready to move on to new challenge

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. After almost 10 years as Springfield's city manager Greg Burris will be retiring at the end of next week.

It's a big job as Burris has been in charge of 20 departments, 2,300 employees, and a budget of $366 million.

And although he's retiring as city manager, he's about to take another job with the city working with.....retirees.

Since September, 2008 Burris' duties have included being in charge of the overall operation of the city of Sprngfield. All its policies and programs, all its employees. And all the residents of the community who want to voice their complaints.

"I've been aging at a greater-than-normal rate for the last 10 years," he said with a smile. "It is a stressful job. It's a 24-7 job. Even when you're on vacation you're plugged in and you're working so you never really get away from it. You don't ever hear a siren the same way once you sit in that chair because if it's a police or fire siren you know it's one of your team that's going out and putting their life on the line and I don't think you ever get over that after you've been city manager."

So at age 56, Burris is retiring as city manager, but not yet ready to retire from working. And that's why he'll start his new job in July working with retirees who want to give back to the community. It's called Give 5, a non-profit group that holds classes for retirees where they are shuttled to 20 area charity organizations to see how they operate and what their needs are.

And at the end of the program, the retirees are are asked to pick a charity and volunteer for at least five hours a month.

Give 5 is run by the city, and if you're wondering why the government is getting involved in a non-profit venture, Burris says it's because he hopes to market the program nationwide and make Springfield a destination move for the 10,000 people a day who'll be retiring over the next 19 years.

"Some of those folks live in places where, even though they're gonna retire, maybe they can't afford to live there," he said. "Especially on the coasts. So if Springfield and Greene County got a reputation as a destination for them to come and live that next chapter of their lives, they would bring with them 70 percent of the disposable income in the United States. So when they come here they're going to eat in restaurants, they're going to buy a house. I think it's a real opportunity for Springfield, both economically and socially, if we can figure out a way to plug them into our community. And that will be the key."

And that's where Give 5 comes in. Giving retirees a purpose to still use their talents and skills and stay active and healthy while also helping the community.

"That's a win, win, win," Burris said. "And the community that figures out how to do that and gets a national reputation will have a massive competitive advantage over the next 20 to 30 years."

And as someone whose job it was to oversee the city's financial growth, Burris sees Give 5 as a potential game-changer for the future.

"If we're successful at this it may have a larger economic impact on our community than just about anything else that we can do," he said. "There's only going to be one or two communities who skate to that spot first and gain that national reputation. And I want Springfield to be that community."