Established: 1880s. Status of buildings: main Kirkbride-plan building recently demolished, some other buildings remain.
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The director of the Nevada Area Economic Development Commission, Alan Kenyon, has spent time trying to find a use for brick buildings and 754 acres of pasture land vacated when the Missouri Department of Mental Health closed the hospital in 1991.
Kenyon says the best way to replace the lost jobs is to create what he calls a telecommunity, an area connected to the world by fiberoptics and other technological advances. he hopes to complement it with traditional development ideas.
He considers as good candidates telemarketing firms and companies that use telephones for catalog sales, computer software support, credit card services, hotel reservation centers and businesses needing locations for insurance claims offices and sites for loan servicing.
State Rep. Jason Klumb, D-Butler, said the computer technology offers a chance for "yuppies of the year 2000 to live in rural Missouri."
"The education is good and the cost of living is lower in rural Missouri," he said. "They can live in these areas and be engaged in professional jobs. They drive to work over the telephone lines, in a sense."
To test the idea's feasibility, Kenyon placed a message on CompuServe, a subscription computer network service:
"Would telepreneurs be interested in a rural development that includes free home sites for telepreneurs, a telecenter with the latest technology, an adjacent incubator and training services, and a connected 'teleneighborhood?'"
Even after the state hospital closed, the site has never been vacant. Rather, the Nevada Habilitation Center employs about 375 people, and the Southwest Missouri Mental Health Center has 148 workers.
Nevada Regional Medical Center opened the Barone Alzheimer's Center in 1991. It employs 41 people and often is near its 36-patient capacity. Also, ServiceMaster operates a laundry and cafeteria for the medical and habilitation centers, respectively.
The challenge for Kenyon and other town leaders is to find uses for land and buildings that have been abandoned. They include the three-story Rush Building, the 77,000-square-foot Ozark Building, portions of the main building and more than a dozen small buildings that dot the campus.