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Springfield, MO

Opinion: 23 thanksgivings in business, community

Eyes & Ears

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Springfield’s not perfect. What city on earth is?

As such, we have much for which to be thankful. With Thanksgiving falling on Nov. 23 this year, here are 23 things I’m thankful for in our local business and community.

1. Location, location, location. Springfield is about three hours from anywhere. I began writing this while in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at a youth soccer tournament. We may not have deep, elite athletic competition in town, but we can drive less than a few hours in almost any direction to get it. And with that comes variety and new experiences.

2. We’re in the fight against human trafficking. Along with the raid of 13 area massage parlors, the Springfield Police Department has begun acknowledging we have a problem. That’s a step. Commercial sex, i.e. prostitution, whatever you want to call it, is trafficking. It’s demeaning to humanity and it must stop.

3. No toll roads. Again, in Tulsa, it feels like you’re paying every three miles.

4. Health care options. For a city this size, we’ve got plenty.

5. Instagram Husband, “The Mystery Hour” and other things by Jeff Houghton. That includes the old Skinny Improv. Best thing about it was that it was clean comedy.

6. Free parking downtown. That is all.

7. Traffic. Yes, I’m thankful we don’t have traffic issues to the degree we could. We’re not winning any awards for best drivers, but we’ll work on that. No city’s perfect here, either. We’ll also need to keep working on our roadways to keep those traffic jams at bay.

8. Cost of living. If you’ve lived in other cities, you know what I mean. If not, run a comparison.

9. Entrepreneurism. We’ve had some visionaries, especially in bringing the 1 Million Cups culture to town. More startup and angel investing is where it’s at next.

10. Outdoors. Sometimes, I just need some wilderness time. Get out. Look up. Disconnect. You have no excuses here, and we need it as humans.

11. Homegrown heroes. Johnny Morris, John Q. Hammons, Brad Pitt, Bob Barker, Kathleen Turner, the O’Reilly clan, etc.

12. Education. Public, private, vocational and homeschooling – there are quality options for any.

13. Local brews – coffee and craft beer. From Springfield Brewing Co. (celebrating its 20th year) to one of the microbreweries yet to open and from The Mudhouse to Traveller’s House, there is no shortage of handcrafted beverages.

14. Cuisine. Springfield’s palate is increasing with Indian, Peruvian and Mexican-Asian fusion. Yum.

15. Generosity. Springfieldians statistically have been known to be the most generous in the state, giving around 7 percent of our discretionary income.

16. Route 66. The nostalgia around the birthplace and the classic cars is just cool. If you haven’t been to the annual parade, check it out.

17. Cost of doing business. Forbes ranks it No. 29 in this category.

18. Performing arts – for all ages. There are plenty of opportunities to train our youth to take the stage. And we get to see the professionals, too, at the city’s multiple theaters.

19. Conversation. We’re criticized for being hyper-traditional and lacking diversity – of people and thought. But in recent days, I’m hearing more people open to talking about the differences. And that means more listening. To disagree is not to disqualify. Let’s keep this momentum.

20. Population. We’re described as a small city but big town. The city’s at 160,000 people. The next big thing is for 500,000 in the metropolitan statistical area. That’s an economic game changer, and we’ve been eyeing that for several years now.

21. Water. My most recent enjoyment is with a kayak. Try something new on the water.

22. Camping. In a tent or straight under the stars. Spend a night outside.

23. For the last one, I asked friends on Facebook. The best business answer was the city’s industrial parks, namely Partnership Industrial Center and PIC West. It came from Maria Hoover, a former editor at Springfield Business Journal, so I’m not surprised. Thanks to all who answered.

It’s the little things and the big things. We can be thankful for all.

Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson can be reached at eolson@sbj.net.

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