Springfield, MO

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2020 40 Under 40: Joel Hornickel, 39

Director of Planning & Development, City of Branson

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Joel Hornickel is watching Branson develop right before his eyes.

The city’s seven-year director of planning and development oversaw more than $100 million in commercial permitting for construction activity in 2019, which is more than double the average annual development investment. Projects include Aquarium at the Boardwalk and the recently opened indoor amusement park WonderWorks.

Hornickel also recently served as the staff lead to manage the public’s involvement in several municipal code updates to the city’s development requirements. For that work he received an award from the Missouri Chapter of American Planning Association.

Hornickel has worked at the city since 2009, when he joined as a senior planner. Before that, he worked for an architecture firm in Toledo, Ohio.

What did you learn the hard way? I had a professor in college that always told us the only way we were ever going to fully learn something was to screw it up.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? When people used the excuse “but that’s the way we’ve always done it” with my dad, it never sat well with him. Now, I share the same feelings.

What is your favorite hobby? Golf. I have been able to see many beautiful places around the world, enjoy some very unique experiences, and make some great friendships because of the game. A round of golf is the cure for all.


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