Tonight my wife, Rachael, and I attended the 9th annual Springfield Business Journal Economic Impact awards banquet. Joe Jenkins served as master of ceremonies, and Great Southern Bank’s Brian Fogle gave the keynote remarks. Jim D. Morris received the Lifetime Achievement in Business award, and HBA members were well represented among the honorees in six different categories.Two of the three finalists for top CPA firm were HBA members (BKD & Kirkpatrick, Phillips & Miller), with BKD taking home top honors in the category. Carson-Mitchell received top honors in the Commercial Contractor category, while Olsson Associates was recognized as the top engineering firm. The Charitable Organization of the Year was Victory Mission. Innovator of the Year was the Springfield Greene County Library District.
Finally, in the Entrepreneur of the Year category, HBA member Sheila Collins was a finalist with Springfield Granite Plus, while the top honors in that category went to trial attorney-turned-chocolate mogul Shawn Askinosie for Askinosie Chocolate.
Brian Fogle’s keynote remarks were excellent and timely. I appreciated hearing his take on the current economic situation and what the future holds. He acknowledged the economic challenges facing the U.S. and the local economy, but astutely pointed out the economic advantages the greater Springfield area has over so many other regions and communities:
1. Our diverse economy and job base insulates us from the extreme fluctuations of many local economies.
2. Midwest common sense provides a healthy dose of caution when dealing with many of the latest fads that doomed so many local economies (example: we saw fewer sub-prime and other exotic mortgage products issued than many markets experienced).
3. Most businesses here understand that down cycles are, well, cyclical. The true opportunity comes when these businesses can use these down times to position themselves for even greater strength and growth when the economic climate improves.
All in all it was an excellent evening. I was reminded once again of just what a class act the Springfield Business Journal is. I was honored to serve on an advisory focus group panel over the course of the last year to provide feedback and critique of the SBJ to its staff on a monthly basis. The fact that they would even seek out such reader input in an effort to improve their news product says a lot about the Business Journal’s commitment to excellence. It is no surprise, then, that SBJ takes that constructive input from readers and uses it to grow and improve in an ongoing way. Dianne Elizabeth and the staff at the Springfield Business Journal have shown a remarkable ability to constantly improve on an already excellent news product – during a time when too many print media have fully lost their way.