Springfield, MO

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No. 1: JQH Hotels endures rocky year

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The year was perhaps the most turbulent in the 41-year history of John Q. Hammons Hotels and Resorts.

With 91-year-old founder and leader John Q. Hammons out with health issues and new CEO Jacquie Dowdy in, JQH Hotels & Resorts experienced the elimination of a division and rocky times in the hotel and resort business in general.

In November, Dowdy, a 38-year Hammons Hotels official, took over as CEO amid the elimination of the company’s architecture division.

“I’d say it is pretty much business as usual,” said Justin Harris, JQH Hotels & Resorts senior vice president and general counsel. “Ms. Dowdy’s vision for the company is to build on what Mr. Hammons has done.”

At the time of the announcement, Dowdy said that while the circumstances under which she took over were not ideal, the company will survive.

“I want to build a legacy for him,” Dowdy said. “This is his company, there will only be one chairman. Springfield’s very lucky to have a benevolent visionary like he is.”

Two members of the eliminated division were relocated, while longtime executive Scott Tarwater, the company’s vice president of development, left with no explanation.

The company cited the slow economy, which has hindered efforts to obtain financing for projects. Hammons Hotels has opened nine hotels since January 2008 and only one since January 2010.

All new building projects that have been announced are temporarily on hold until financing is available. The company owns and operates nearly 80 hotels nationwide, Harris said.

Meanwhile, Hammons’ care and treatment was the subject of a state inquiry by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder on behalf of the state Department of Health and Human Services regarding concerns later found to be unsubstantiated.

Kinder, the state’s official senior advocate, held a news conference Nov. 1 in front of Hammons Field to discuss findings of the inquiry announced Oct. 29.

Hammons suffers from multiple cardiovascular, lung and pulmonary disorders, and two physicians are charged with his care: Dr. Steven Atwood of CoxHealth in Springfield, and Dr. Brian Griffin, a cardiologist with the Cleveland Clinic.

One of the Top 10 Stories of 2010: See the rest here.
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