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2014 Men of the Year Honoree: Allen Kunkel

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Allen Kunkel credits his parents with providing a blueprint for a rewarding life: work hard, be honest, do your best, help others and give back. It’s an approach that’s served him well since moving to Springfield in 1999.

“I have been fortunate to receive great opportunities since making the Ozarks our home,” says Kunkel, associate vice president for economic development at Missouri State University. “I have met so many wonderful community and business leaders that have contributed to my success. I owe a great gratitude to a number of people who have provided me opportunities to lead and give back.”

After seven years with the Missouri Department of Economic Development in Jefferson City, Kunkel was enticed to Springfield 15 years ago by the newly created position of manager of regional development at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. Kunkel assisted 68 cities, counties and chambers of commerce within a 10-county region in planning and coordinating economic development activities to enhance the marketability and livability of the area.

“I am proud to have helped the region form a solid sense of regional collaboration and working together to strengthen the economy,” he says. “Working with various leaders in city, county and chamber leadership throughout the Ozarks region helped me as much as I was able to help them.”

After seven years, Kunkel moved to MSU in 2007 for his current role, which keeps him very busy. Kunkel coordinates local, state and federal resources with those at MSU to promote business and industrial growth by linking research and innovation with entrepreneurship and commercialization.

Kunkel is the director of the Jordan Valley Innovation Center, which includes the Center for Applied Science and Engineering, Center for Biomedical and Life Sciences and Springfield Innovation Inc., for which he serves as chief executive officer. He also guides operations of The eFactory, MSU’s hub for entrepreneurship that last year was certified as a small business incubator by the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

“If I were to name one of my proudest accomplishments, it would be helping improve the lives of the people in the Ozarks through economic development and engaging the region in innovation and entrepreneurship,” Kunkel says. “Whether through a new job as a result of a project, creating high-wage research and technology jobs, assisting in launching a new start-up business, helping educate people ... or helping a variety of young people and families through nonprofit or service organizations, being able to say I helped make a difference in someone’s life is important to me.”

While working at the chamber, Kunkel developed a desire for community service. He has served as board president for the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools, Safety Council of the Ozarks, Rotary Club of Springfield North and the Discovery Center. In addition to sitting on multiple professional boards, Kunkel serves the boards of the Southwest Missouri Council of Governments, Workforce Investment Board, Rotary Club of Springfield North and Missouri Economic Development Council.

“I have learned over the past decade that I have a responsibility to help others be successful,” Kunkel says. “It is important to surround yourself with good people and provide the opportunity for professional growth.”[[In-content Ad]]


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