EDITOR’S NOTE: The honorees of this year’s Economic Impact Awards embody what’s possible when talented people come together with innovative ideas to spur growth for our region. The 2019 companies receiving top honors are a boutique hotel in downtown Springfield, a company focused on renewable energy, a preschool and early education provider, and a longtime health care system. Special thanks to this year’s judges who carefully scored each nominee and a round of applause to this year’s outstanding class of honorees. And thanks to you, our readers, for supporting Springfield Business Journal as we head into our 40th year of business.
—Christine Temple, Features Editor
Here’s the Economic Impact Awards selection process from start to finish:
1. Nominations are submitted from across the community.
2. Nominees are notified and given questionnaires to fill out for judges’ consideration.
3. SBJ selects an independent panel of judges to evaluate each submitted questionnaire, along with a resume and letter of recommendation for individual nominees.
4. Judges individually score each applicant based on their financial performance, community involvement and overall impact on the Ozarks region.
5. Judges are asked to recuse themselves from scoring any nominee who would be considered a conflict of interest.
6. SBJ tallies all judges’ scores to determine the top company, or companies, in each category. In each of the four categories honoring businesses based on years of service, a top honor is given based on judges’ scores.
7. SBJ announces the honorees and reveals the year’s judges.
The local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness moved; the newest clinic for Burrell Behavioral Health opened; and Prickly Cactus Coffee relocated.
Marc Thornsberry, a Senior Engineer at CJW, says he joined the company after working in the public sphere. He says CJW had a ton of experience working with the community, and putting their customer's and clients.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares helpful advice and cautionary tips about the importance of tracking cash flow for new or established businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Michael Smith and Chris Sawyer, COO and CEO of Next Level Solutions respectively, discuss how they keep their remote teams and offices in and out of country on the same page. Next Level Solutions was ranked #1 in the Springfield Business Journal's 2021 Dynamic Dozen.
John Oke-Thomas, architect and co-founder of minorities in business, responds to the accusation that minority businesses are only successful because of the priority they have received in lending. He says that if a business uses a loan well, it shows their worth.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares tips for entrepreneurs who are ready to seek funding. Some of her tips apply broadly; some target technology industry businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and startups, and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Hollie Elliott discusses common misconceptions about locating your business in a small town. She says that there are a lot of benefits that people may not consider.
Drawing on his own experience dynamically evolving his company and business model, Jim Meinsen discusses when and how you might need to draw on new technology. Jim and Debbie Meinsen are co-owners of TCI Graphics in Springfield.
John Oke-Thomas, longtime Springfield architect, discusses his philosophy on architecture. He says that future historians will be focused on the sustainability of our contemporary architecture.
Erin Hedlun, director of marketing and communications at Evangel University, says compassion is an important job skill. Hedlun says it is a component of what makes a leader.
Rachel Barks, owner of Artistree Pottery, talks about the concepting that went behind the aesthetic of the business.