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Opinion: Honorees tell the story of economic progress

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Economic development is known as a team sport. When you have a team like this year’s Economic Impact honorees, it’s easy to be confident in our community’s ability to compete on a national level to attract, develop and retain strong businesses and talent in the region for the years to come. I was proud to represent the Ozarks Technical Community College Center for Workforce Development as a 2018 Economic Impact Awards recipient, and it’s an honor to share this award with new, equally worthy businesses this year.

Economic progress is measured by certain drivers. One driver is a community’s support of entrepreneurial activity. From Hurts Donut Co. and Hotel Vandivort to Loehr Chiropractic and Acupuncture, the Springfield region hosts a diverse ecosystem of companies that contribute to a healthy economy. It’s a herculean effort for a business to make it in its first five years.

The availability and productivity of talent is another key economic driver. We are very fortunate to have such great resources as the Ozark Region Workforce Development Board and Penmac Staffing Services to assist with employability skills, job training and short-term/long-term staffing needs. Being a great place to work, like Sun Solar, Burgess Aircraft Management, Phoenix Home Care and Toth and Associates, makes attracting talent just that much easier.

Availability of capital to fund business growth and expansion is extremely important to Springfield’s economic growth. SBJ Lifetime Achievement in Business Award winner William “Bill” Turner and Great Southern Bank have a long history of supporting development and expansion in the Springfield region. Mr. Turner became bank president in 1974 and witnessed so many changes to the banking industry that forced many out of the market; yet he maintained a focus on his customers and grew from one location to over 100 today. It’s also hard to believe that Arvest Bank has only been in Springfield since 2007, as they have become a welcome pillar of our philanthropic community. We are so very fortunate to have local banks dedicated to listening and supporting the dreams and ambitions of our community members. While Arvest does a great job supporting nonprofits, the Springfield area also is home to great nonprofits like Convoy of Hope that do so much to bring great recognition to our city through their international work.

The last economic driver I’ll mention is making Springfield a quality place where people want to live, work and play. Some refer to this concept as placemaking. Great trails and parks (Springfield-Greene County Park Board), state of the art medical facilities (Citizens Memorial Hospital and Mercy Springfield Communities), and loving, secure daycare facilities (Little Sunshine’s Enterprises) are all a part of placemaking. So are large, open and comfortable hotels and convention space (Oasis Hotel & Convention Center) for visitors to see firsthand how truly phenomenal our community is.

The next time you visit one of these honored businesses or talk to your friends and neighbors who happen to work at or own one, be sure to congratulate them. They’re doing a tremendous job of representing this community we love so much.

Sherry Coker is the executive director of Ozarks Technical Community College Center for Workforce Development, which was the 2018 Economic Impact Awards recipient of the Business Advocate of the Year. She can be reached at cokers@otc.edu.

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