Two public events originally scheduled for this week from the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield are being delayed until the spring.
The chamber announced one week prior to its planned Jan. 28 annual meeting that it would postpone the event to March 22. Chamber President Matt Morrow said the recently rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community was behind the decision of the organization’s board of directors to move the date down the calendar. The event still will be held at the Oasis Hotel & Convention Center.
“We wanted to wait until the last possible moment to make that call, if the call had to be made,” Morrow said, noting the RSVP total had reached nearly 900 by Jan. 21. “Our board leadership reviewed the pros and cons and evaluated the conditions of the community at the moment. In the end, this event is meant to be a very celebratory and inspiring event.
“The judgment of our board leadership, which I, of course, fully support, is that we’ll be better able to do that a little bit down the road.”
Friday also was the targeted start date for the annual HBA Home Show, previously set to run Jan. 28-30 at the Springfield Expo Center. HBA officials decided last week to postpone its event to April 22-24 at the same venue, citing in a news release a desire to help mitigate the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19.
“Moving the Home Show helps support our workforce and keep the community safe,” said Ryan Green, president of the HBA Board of Directors, in the release. “The spread of omicron has had a direct impact on the workforce. We want to ensure we’re doing our part to protect both our community and the economy.”
According to Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard, as of Jan. 21, the seven-day average for daily cases in Greene County was 735, and 225 people were in local hospitals with the virus. Two weeks prior, the Health Department reported the seven-day average was 315 and 167 were hospitalized with COVID-19.
It’s the second time in as many years that the coronavirus has led both the Springfield chamber and HBA to shuffle event plans. The 2021 HBA Home Show was rescheduled to May from its original January date, while the chamber also pushed its annual meeting back four months to May.
Morrow said the chamber intentionally reduced capacity for last year’s event to around 700 to allow for more social distancing. The annual meeting traditionally presents the chamber’s top honor, its Springfieldian Award, which recognizes community service, excellence in the honoree’s field and dedication to improving the quality of life in Springfield. Longtime developer and real estate businessperson Warren Davis was the 2021 recipient, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
The expanded facility is expected to reach annual revenue of $650M.