Celebrating the power of teamwork at Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting is the signature evening on the Chamber’s event calendar. It’s the time when members gather to look back on the year that was, thank those who served in leadership and look ahead to what the future holds.
And though this year’s event had to be moved a little later in the calendar to ensure the safety of attendees, nearly 1,000 people gathered on March 22 at the Oasis Hotel & Convention Center to celebrate this annual tradition.
The focus of this year’s event was teamwork and working together to build something better. The design of the event was themed around the honeybee, because of its industriousness and its ability to play the needed role to help the whole colony – ideas that can also be applied to the Springfield community.
“We are rightly proud of our community’s reputation for collaboration,” Chamber President Matt Morrow told those in attendance. “While some communities waste precious time and energy pulling in different directions, when we’re at our best, we work together, leveraging everyone’s strengths. Everyone has value, and everyone has a part in building something special together.”
Building something special was a continuing theme through the speeches of both the outgoing chair of the Chamber Board of Directors and the incoming chair.
417 owner and publisher Logan Aguirre, who chaired the board in 2021, talked about the accomplishments of the past year – like economic development wins and successes for business priorities in the state legislature – and looked at them in the context of our community’s history.
Specifically, she looked at a city directory that she found from the 1930s, which talked about our community’s strengths at that time, like our central location and our natural outdoor amenities … items that we still tout as strengths today.
“What does this tell us?” she said. “It tells me that the story we’re telling, the ideas we’re putting forward, aren’t necessarily new; we’re just presenting them in a new way.”
And that desire to grow and thrive as a group was a central idea for incoming Chair John Oke-Thomas of Oke-Thomas + Associates. He told the story of how he got from Nigeria to Springfield via Italy, France, and England. He has spent the 40 years since he got his architecture degree from Drury University working to build the Springfield community.
“There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” he said. “We need to get together as a community and as a people, so that we can begin to understand that each and every one of us has a responsibility to the society as a whole.”
And the evening culminated with the announcement of Great Southern Bank CEO Joe Turner as the 2022 Springfieldian. Joe accepted the award with typical humility.
“If you survey (our customers), every one of them would tell you they’re at our bank because of a personal relationship – no one is going to say they’re there because of Joe Turner,” he said. “I’m so proud to work with all of them, and I’m always amazed by their dedication, their ability and their resilience.”