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Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson can be reached at
Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson can be reached at

12 People You Need to Know in 2012: A New Class to Spotlight, Follow

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Sixty people from all walks of business – a couple have come and gone from the market, others are in different positions or companies and, yet, most continue to shape the business culture right where they worked when we picked them among an annual class of 12 People You Need To Know.

That’s the rearview mirror I have the opportunity to look through as Springfield Business Journal rolls into the fifth year of this editorial project. As in previous years, we’ll hold a breakfast Q&A event with each of the 12 People in 2012 as a featured guest, starting with CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards, just days after he settles into the health system’s corner office.

Event attendees have a chance to meet these young up-and-comers; influential yet behind-the-scenes personnel; newcomers just beginning to build their southwest Missouri résumés; and notable business names. This program provides a unique networking and educational opportunity that can be capitalized to whatever extent our readers and guests see fit. One thing I’ve seen is that attendees can discover the people behind the executive titles, their styles to manage and engage staff, and possibilities for new business deals or community initiatives. And sometimes, they walk away with a new perspective on their co-workers, neighbors and family members.

Each year, we look to sharpen the program and build upon our previous outings. In 2012, we’re inviting university students to the monthly breakfasts with the offering to ask their own questions of the featured guests in a one-on-one setting after the events wrap up.

Each of the 12 this year has responded in strong support of the idea of giving the budding professionals a seat at the table so they can pick the brains of the seasoned businesspeople. From our perspective, it’s one small way SBJ can help to fight the city’s brain drain and retain highly qualified graduates to live and work in the Springfield area.

As we’ve watched the careers of 12 People honorees develop, here are a few observations:
  • Ken Homan of Central Trust & Investment Co. has since earned the prestigious certified investment management analyst designation from the Investment Management Consultants Association.
  • Missouri State University representatives Cuonzo Martin and James Cofer made their marks and have moved on – Martin to a grander basketball stage at the University of Tennessee and Cofer to the classroom under a cloud of uncertainty.
  • Ron Spigelman announced he would not renew his contract to direct the Springfield Symphony.
  • Colby Mace resigned from the top post of Siemens’ Springfield operation to launch a venture capital firm.
  • Scott Tarwater, once the right-hand-man of John Q. Hammons, left JQH Hotels and the next year joined O’Reilly Hospitality, where he is orchestrating an Embassy Suites deal in Texas.
  • Andy Ford of Noble’s Food Channel completed an online documentary, “Beneath the Surface: Gulf Seafood’s Fight for Survival,” which is up for a Taste Award, highlighting the best in food, fashion and home lifestyle.
We’re keeping up with these folks, and we’re shining a light on a new class to showcase and follow. Join us for the ride in 2012.

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