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Opinion: A year of firsts, but heartbeat of event remains

2018 Economic Impact Awards

Posted online

Springfield Business Journal first celebrated Economic Impact Awards in July 2000, when founding publisher Dianne Elizabeth Osis decided there was no better way to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her business than to honor the local businesses and leaders that made her life’s work possible. In the 18 years since, there have been a number of constants beyond the annual SBJ birthday toast.

Among the most notable is presenting sponsor BKD LLP. The accounting and advisory firm was there in 2000 and continues to bring the event to the Springfield business community now 18 years later. The unwavering support and commitment to this event, and the editorial coverage that surrounds it, is fundamental to its existence.

Another constant is the nominations from our readers for those local businesses that warrant recognition for their exemplary financial performance, growth, civic involvement and overall impact on the community.

Companies respond with specific data and open-ended answers to a list of questions on the awards application. Finally, an independent panel of five judges selects the best of the best and bestows top honors on one company in each distinct category. Similarly, the judges evaluate internally compiled materials in their choice of one individual for their lifetime achievements in business.

The 2018 event showcases some notable firsts. Harry Cooper is the first Lifetime Achievement in Business honoree to be recognized posthumously. When faced with this possibility, the staff quickly decided Mr. Cooper’s life and career embodied the essence of this award and determined his materials should be put in front of the judges, along with those of other nominees. His friends, family and staff will tell you Mr. Cooper departed too soon. The legacy he left behind, though, is cause for celebration. It is brought to life via photographs and the rich memories shared on video by those closest to Mr. Cooper.

This year also marks the first time SBJ will celebrate Economic Impact Awards without the involvement of the late Joe Jenkins of Jenkins Diesel Power. Joe loyally served as the awards emcee for many years and agreed to continue doing so as long as he was physically able. That time finally came in 2017, when Joe helped only from the sidelines. He passed away in December last year, but I believe will be there in spirit for the 2018 celebration and will live on in the hearts of his many friends.

Finally, I stand in awe and admiration of the 15 companies and three individuals that comprise the 2018 Economic Impact honorees. Collectively, the companies in core categories represent 356 years of positive impact on the local economy. Individual honorees and organizations demonstrate what it means to succeed while propelling others forward through philanthropy, service, advocacy and ingenuity. It is the distinct honor and pleasure of the SBJ editorial staff to tell their stories on the following pages.

Read along and be inspired.

SBJ Publishing Inc. Publisher Jennifer Jackson can be reached at jjackson@sbj.net.

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