Federal proposal would eliminate Springfield’s status as metropolitan area

Credit: Hasan Karim

Combined ShapeCaption
There is a proposal by the federal government to reclassify metropolitan statistical area designation of 144 cities across the country, including Springfield.

Credit: Hasan Karim

A proposal by the federal government to reclassify metropolitan statistical area designation of 144 cities across the country, including Springfield, has local officials concerned.

“We are not exactly sure what the impact would be. But the fear is that it makes us less eligible for certain types of state and federal funding,” said Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland.

The federal government is contemplating raising the population criteria for core cities in metro areas from 50,000 residents to 100,000 residents, according to the Associated Press. Doing so would reclassify more than a third of current metro areas in the country including Springfield.

ExploreSpringfield to receive $2.5 million in grant funding from HUD

If that change does go through, the Springfield area would no longer be considered a metropolitan area and instead would be classified as micropolitan.

Copeland and other local officials said it could put certain types of federal funding opportunities available to the city and its surrounding area at risk, but what those impacts would be are still being discussed.

“We do not know all the possibilities. But we are worried that we would lose some of our funding in the future due to this,” he added.

Some housing, transportation and Medicare reimbursement programs are directed specifically to metropolitan statistical areas, according to the Associated Press.

Springfield’s current status does make it eligible to certain grants administered through the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development as well as from other state and federal agencies.

However, it is unknown if Springfield would lose that eligibility by becoming a micropolitan area as well as hurt its chances in acquiring types of funding.

“We are still in the exploration stage of the process. We are working to find out what our possibilities are and how that would effect us,” Copeland said.

The City of Springfield had an estimated population of 59,132 as of 2019, according to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. The metropolitan area as a whole has an urban population of 85,256, according to estimates used by the Associated Press.

Lima and Mansfield are the other two Ohio cities that could loose their metropolitan status if the change occurs, according to the Associated Press.

If the federal government decides to change those classifications it would not take place until 2023.

ExplorePhotos: Springfield celebrates St. Patrick’s Day

Though it could impact access to certain types of state and federal funding, local economic development leaders believe that it wouldn’t likely have an impact on their work.

That type of funding as well as economic development opportunities are not usually tied to the population size of a particular metropolitan area, said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield.

Instead certain economic opportunities depend on the type of infrastructure as well as building space located in an area as well as its proximity to other population centers.

Hobbs said that the work force is much more mobile than it was in past decades and that plays a role in attracting economic opportunities.

Springfield would still benefit from where it sits regionally and its metro status would not have much of an impact on those relationships, Hobbs said.

However, he said it is still too early to tell what the direct impacts would be if Springfield becomes a micropolitan area.

About the Author