This old zinc mining and Route 66 town until recently had the lowest living and housing costs in the country. Reaching its heyday in the early 20th century, the city and area had a long period of decline. Led by some diversified manufacturing, including bedding manufacturer Leggett & Platt, and some trucking industries favoring the central U.S. location, the economy is improving.
The area does serve as a regional center for health care and education, with the small Missouri Southern state university. But the downtown infrastructure, aside from a few historic sites, is old and dull, and there simply isn’t a lot to do. Those who do find good jobs will prosper economically because of the area’s low costs. Tulsa is 90 miles to the southwest.
The town is located near the foothills of the Ozarks, which rise to the southeast. Large agricultural areas surround the city. Climate is continental with a strong Gulf influence. Summers are warm and sticky with little relief outside of the occasional thundershower. Winters are cool and variable, with snow and rain-snow mixes and periods of cold alternating with warmer weather. First freeze is mid-October, last is mid-April.