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90 percent of businesses destroyed or severely damaged by 2011 Joplin tornado rebuilt, and 250 new businesses now open

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI - Four years later, 90 percent of the 531 businesses destroyed or severely damaged by the 2011 Joplin tornado have been rebuilt.

An additional 250 new businesses have opened shop as well.

Recovery and growth, that proves the strength and resilience of the Joplin community.

"We hit the ground running, and have been going ever since," said Liz Easton, owner of Cupcakesbyliz.

Easton is just one of the hundreds of Joplin business owners who has come back strong after losing everything four years ago.

She says following the storm, the thought of rebuilding her shop from scratch was overwhelming.

"The first thought was I don't want to do that," Easton said. "Then as things unfolded, and God just kind of opened our eyes to what He wanted for us, we built our house and our shop at the same time."

Cupcakesbyliz was rebuilt in just a year's time.

However, it took a little longer for others who were part of the 485 lost businesses that have reopened.

"We had businesses that had to really go through the process of making that evaluation of do they rebuild where they were, do they rebuild some place else, or do they find an existing building," said Rob O'Brian, Chamber of Commerce president.

City officials say the new 250 businesses that opened in the past four years were attracted to Joplin for a variety of reasons.

"In a sense, having some open areas really became an attraction for them to come and look at the market," O'Brian said.

"They see that this is a new, progressive community, and I think they want to be a part of it," said Mike Seibert, mayor.

Those who reopened quickly, have served as an encouragement and an inspiration for the others who have followed in rebuilding.

"It's wonderful because initially it looked like a deserted war zone," Easton said. "It's hard work, but I believe there's rewards in hard work and endurance, and that's something we had before, but even more so now."

Officials say with several commercial development projects in the works, they expect the trend of new businesses opening in Joplin to continue.
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