By Kathleen Swift • Photo by Mandy Edmonson

Nick Edwards recently returned to Joplin, his hometown, to take the position of Joplin city manager. An alum of both Missouri Southern State University and Missouri State University, Edwards has deep roots in Southwest Missouri. Edwards served in the Marines from 1999 to 2003, and most recently served as assistant city manager of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. In returning to Joplin, Edwards remarked, “Joplin is my hometown and offered me the opportunity to professionally serve a community of people that I deeply care about.”

SMTO: You’ve come at an unprecedented time in our country. What are your first priorities for the city?

Edwards: It is an unprecedented time, but I feel fortunate to be a part of a community that has been tested before and is resilient. I believe Joplin has a bright future, and I am eager to work with the mayor and council to help bring new opportunities to Joplin, enhance city services and positively impact the quality of life for the residents.

SMTO: What strengths do you see in the city that will help us meet our current challenges?

Edwards: You can’t look at Joplin and not see a dynamic business community. Joplin has a diverse array of businesses across many sectors. It is a credit to our business community and chamber of commerce leadership that Joplin is seen as a place for growth. It is also easy to see that the Joplin School District is committed to providing the very best education for our youth. Together, with Missouri Southern State University, Kansas City University of Medicine and Dental School, the Joplin School District and our business community, Joplin is well positioned to thrive and meet future challenges. The best of Joplin, though, is our community’s character. Joplin is a strong and resilient community that takes care of each other and endeavors to make Joplin a better place to live.

SMTO: What strengths do you bring to bear in our current situation?

Edwards: I don’t like to dwell too much on things that might make me seem special. I am passionate about serving others, and I am passionate about improving the Joplin community. I am fortunate to have many different life and professional experiences that I believe have prepared me to help Joplin grow toward the future.

SMTO: What role do you think city government should play in a community crisis?

Edwards: City organizations are service providers. Our business is to serve the public. For city government, that means providing services that keeps the community safe during a crisis. We have dedicated employees in all departments that contribute to public safety.

SMTO: Do you have specific goals for the city?

Edwards: After meeting the mayor and council members during the interview process, I was excited to hear their visions for the community. It is very rewarding to work for a visionary group to help do something special for the community. I look forward to helping them identify goals that can make their visions reality.

SMTO: Can you tell our readers something about your family?

Edwards: I’m thankful for a wonderful family that has always given me the support and encouragement to get me through difficult challenges and helped celebrate positive moments. My wife, Joleen, is a strong woman who makes me better each day. She’s a blessing, and I’m so thankful she let me rescue her from Lawrence, Kansas, where we met.

SMTO: What do you like to do to relax?

Edwards: I’ve found the best way to relax is to get away from email, devices and social media. Every relationship and experience for me is much better without those things.