Be thankful for what’s on the Ozarks business scene horizon

Maria Hoover, SBJ Features Editor

Journalists are trained to ask questions – and lots of them – but we get plenty of questions, too.

One of my not-so-favorites when calling on sources is, “Will this be a positive story or a negative one?” The problem with this question is that ethical journalists don’t go into a story with preconceived notions. How a story shakes out – good, bad or ugly – depends on the facts. Our role, simply put, is to gather those facts, to put them into a balanced piece and then let them speak for themselves.

To be sure, there are times when the news seems brighter. Thinking back four or five years, I can tell you that the news coming out of several industries – housing, architecture and construction, for example – had a very different feel than what we’ve reported on more recently.

But that’s not because the editorial team goes out of its way to find “bad news” to share with our readers. We just go after news, period. The fact is, however, the economy has taken a hit. That’s a reality that changes the scope and the nature of what a lot of industries and companies are doing. We can’t change that, just like we can’t change the fact that covering the news – whatever it may be – is a job we’re charged with daily for our e-newsletter and weekly for our print editions.

Given the economic climate and the fact that there are still many people out there looking for work, it might be challenging to get in the Thanksgiving spirit. Something I’ve heard time and again in nearly 11 years at SBJ is that the people of the Ozarks are resilient. As we prepare for a day of thanks – and for many of us, time with loved ones – here are just a few reminders of what we have to be thankful for, today and on the horizon.

Expedia Inc. is beefing up its Springfield presence, with plans to bring 500 new jobs to the area. Some 300 employees already have been brought on board, but available opportunities will be in areas such as customer service, hotel support and financial operations.

• The manufacturing sector seems to be on the upswing, according to the latest index from the Institute for Supply Management. While there’s still ground to gain, this could indicate that brighter days – and increased orders – lie ahead. Missouri’s manufacturers also have the power of a collective group behind them, as the Springfield-based Missouri Manufacturers Association has expanded its reach and is identifying legislative priorities for the coming year.

Forbes magazine calls the Springfield metropolitan statistical area a Top 10 market for housing investments. This bodes well for builders and remodelers, as well as those who seek investment opportunities.

• Our region is ripe with health care innovation. The Jordan Valley Innovation Center is a hotbed of scientific development in downtown Springfield. A $4.8 million Department of Defense Grant to St. John’s Medical Research Institute to treat soldiers’ eye wounds is just one example of the money – and ideas – coming from JVIC space. Not only is the research going to help improve care, but if JVIC continues on its designated path, it will bring high-tech jobs to the Ozarks.

I hope you’ll agree that there’s plenty to be thankful for – and to look forward to – on the Ozarks business scene.

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