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Bengsch crowned with SBJ’s top Economic Impact Award

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Springfield Business Journal held its 21st annual Economic Impact Awards last night, with both virtual and in-person viewing parties.

Greene County Commissioner Harold Bengsch took home the evening’s top award for Lifetime Achievement in Business.

“It’s been such a blessing over these 60 years to find myself with the honor of standing on the shoulders of other leaders in this community and seeing a vision of what can happen and then seeing that vision turn into reality,” Bengsch said last night on stage at the Oasis Hotel & Convention Center. “Collaboration is a keystone of those successes.”

Bengsch said his professional motto has guided his six decades in public service: “There is no limit to what can be accomplished when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”

Bengsch and 10 family members and colleagues were in person for the awards ceremony, while other recipients held private watch parties across Springfield. The ceremony was broadcast live on a private YouTube channel.

Prior to his time on the commission, Bengsch directed the Springfield-Greene County Health Department for 20 years.

In a video tribute, community leaders credited Bengsch for his impact.

“It’s people like a Harold Bengsch that really define what your community is like,” said Jordan Valley Community Health Center CEO Brooks Miller.

And fellow Commissioner Box Dixon said, “When you look at the good things in our community, you find Harold Bengsch’s fingerprints all over them.”

The EIA also honored five top businesses based on years in operation:

1-7 Years in Operation: Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe

“This has been an amazing place to open and run a business,” said co-owner Lauren Brown. “We’re really grateful for the collaboration, the vision and the support that our community has for small businesses.”

8-15 Years in Operation: OMG Commerce

“We’re so happy to be part of such a wonderful community where our team is able to thrive and contribute in such a positive way,” said co-founder Chris Brewer. “Our entire staff is proud to play an active role in strengthening the Queen City’s economy.”

16-29 Years in Operation: Oasis Hotel & Convention Center

“This is our third time being honored as a finalist and, oh my goodness, this is such a wonderful honor,” said General Manager Missy Handyside-Chambers. “We have an incredible team here at the Oasis and we have an incredible owner. You’re the reason for the award.”

30-74 Years in Operation: Citizens Memorial Hospital

“We appreciate the support we have of our communities and being able to serve our areas to meet health care needs,” said Beverly Derrickson, chief operating officer for the CMH Foundation.

75+ Years in Operation: CoxHealth

“We’re blessed to have the privilege to serve the community for over 100 years, and we make such an economic impact because you trust us to care for you,” said Charity Elmer, executive vice president and general counsel.

In addition to the recognition based on years in operation, the Economic Impact Awards honored two individuals and three companies for their influence on business and the community.

Charitable Nonprofit of the Year: The Kitchen Inc.

“Our services now more than ever are desperately needed in our community. Housing is health care,” said CEO Meleah Spencer. “Thank you for recognizing our efforts to end homelessness in our community.”

Philanthropic Business of the Year: BKD LLP

“We are invested, not only with our donations, but with our time and our expertise,” said BKD partner Brandy Buckler. “We want to be part of the drive for positive change and influence in our community.”

Business Advocate of the Year: Leadership Springfield

“Leadership Springfield remains committed to plugging in the business workforce locally for years to come,” said Executive Director Carrie Richardson. “Our work is about inspiring, developing and connecting leaders to serve Springfield.”

Community Involvement Champion of the Year: Pamela Yancey

“Serving my community and helping others find opportunities to serve is just a real joy and a blessing to me,” said Yancey, a community market director for Arvest Bank. “I couldn’t believe that I had found a company that was as interested and committed to helping my community as I was.”

Entrepreneur of the Year: Trent Freeman

The founder of Pure & Clean LLC said, “[We’re] happy to do our best during this crazy time of COVID to get safe products out there and disinfectant solutions to everybody that needs them – from our front-line defenders in the hospital and EMS to our schools as they try to open up.”

Full profiles of the honorees are published in SBJ’s July 27 print edition.

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