Nixa traces its origins back to the mid-1800s with the movement of farmers and traders into this fertile soil region of Southwest Missouri. The first settlers were farmers who chose to locate their homes along the wooded streams in the vicinity of present day Nixa. The growing community quickly became known as a stopover or crossroads site, as the community was a half-day ride with a team of horses from Springfield. It became a convenient stopping point for teamsters hauling supplies from Arkansas to Springfield and for those traveling to the lower James River and Arkansas.
How Nixa Got Its Name
One of Nixa's early civic leaders was Nicholas A. Inman, a blacksmith who moved from Tennessee in 1852. Inman established a partnership with Joe Weaver and opened a blacksmith shop in Ozark. Inman's family home site of 160 acres adjoins the present day corporate boundaries of Nixa.
At a town meeting held to select a name for the community and post office, it was suggested that the town be named after Inman because of his years of service to the community. Another suggestion that "nix" best described the community, as it was "nothing but a crossroads" (Collins, 1989). An "a", Inman's middle initial, was added to "nix", arriving at the community's name — Nixa. Nixa officially incorporated as a village on June 10, 1902.
As with many other communities in Southwest Missouri, Nixa's early economy was based on agriculture and farming. Grain crops, dairy and beef cattle, and vegetables were the primary products of the area.
Nixa's early businesses and industry were dependent on the area's farm economy. Flour and corn mills were established near Nixa on the Finley River, at Linden and Riverdale. As the cattle industry grew in importance, mills specializing in stock feed took over. The dairy industry also continued to grow, and in 1924 a cooperative cheese factory was set up in Nixa. During the Great Depression, the cooperative was taken over by the Wilson Packing Company. Fruit and vegetables were also important to the area's economy, with the first tomato cannery established in 1889.
The early businesses and industries that catered to the local agricultural economy are no longer in existence. A decreasing demand for the area's produce, the depression years and the continued growth of Springfield as the region's commercial center, all contributed to the closing of these early businesses.
Nixa, however, continued to grow in both population and local economic base after WWII. Improvements to the area's major transportation routes, including Highways 160 and 14, stimulated residential and business growth in Nixa. Industrial development and employment opportunities in nearby Springfield during the 1960's and 1970's resulted in corresponding growth in Nixa, as the city became a residential community for workers commuting to Springfield.
While many Nixa residents continue to rely on employment in Springfield, Nixa has experienced rapid growth and a greater diversification of its economic base over the past decade. Today, Nixa continues to function as a "crossroads" or mid-point location between Springfield and the Branson/Tri-Lakes area, attracting both residential and commercial development.
Nixa is one of the fastest growing cities in Missouri, according to the 2010 U.S. Census figures, the population has grown from that little town of 1200, to a current population of 19,022. Over the past 20 years, Nixa has grown an amazing 353%. Nixa prides itself on the fact that it is a master planned community, where pro-active, adopted comprehensive and strategic planning policies and procedures help guide and facilitate the community’s quality growth. Whether it is land-use, infrastructure delivery, transportation, recreational opportunities or public safety, the City takes a long-range perspective on what it aspires to achieve. Additionally, improved community facilities and services, such as the community center, police station and utility office, have been developed to serve the needs of the Nixa population into the 21st century