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Awards focus on overall business impact

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Every now and then, life requires us to switch gears, and the business scene isn’t immune.

Take, for example, this year’s Economic Impact Awards, which have broken from tradition in recognition of a very different business climate and a significant anniversary for SBJ Publishing Inc.

Springfield Business Journal launched the Economic Impact Awards in 2000, and traditionally, companies were selected by judges – this year’s panel is featured on page 2 – based on year-to-year revenue and employment percentage growth and an essay question that went beyond raw numbers.

As we began planning for the 2010 Economic Impact Awards, the team at SBJ was very aware of two key issues:
• The recession had hit businesses across sectors; and
• We wanted to do something special for the 2010 awards, which coincide with our celebration as we wrap up our 30th year in publishing and launch into Year 31.

We decided that this year, we’d present Decade Awards, opening Economic Impact honors to all companies, divided into categories by the decades in which they were founded. While we kept the revenue and employment questions as criteria, the categorical shift was a big change from years past, when we chose three specific industry categories for Economic Impact Awards and also had others for entrepreneurs, innovators and charitable organizations.

What we didn’t know, however, was that our most significant shift would become crystal clear after we launched the nominations process for this year’s awards cycle.

In the beginning, there were plenty of nominations that went out, but very few completed applications came in. Follow-up calls revealed that some companies were hesitant to share financial data, particularly on the heels of a challenging year.

We began to lean toward the idea of stepping away from a focus on the numbers, and that, combined with feedback from nominees’ representatives, sent us back to the drawing board. We revamped the applications to take weight off numbers and put more focus on each company’s rich and varied history. That opened the door for more companies to participate, though as you’ll see from the stories in this booklet, several companies did share financial data with us when it came to putting together their profiles.

We asked our judges, however, to look beyond the numbers – or lack thereof – and score companies based on their overall impact on business in the Ozarks.

Our highest honor, Lifetime Achievement in Business, remains a key part of the Economic Impact Awards, and this year goes to Sam Hamra, CEO of Hamra Enterprises. A new award, Business Advocate of the Year, goes to Rusty Worley, executive director of Urban Districts Alliance.

Even as we salute these businesses and individuals, the SBJ team is doing a fair amount of reflecting on our own three decades of history. While we still publish the region’s only comprehensive business newspaper, this company has evolved and grown through the years to include a sister publication in Joplin, a daily e-newsletter, an award-winning Web site at and a contract publishing division launched earlier this year.

Like the companies you’ll read about here, we’re proud of our accomplishments in business and plan to forge ahead. Let’s stick together as our journeys continue – the ride is sure to be anything but boring.[[In-content Ad]]


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