EIA: A night to remember

Emily Letterman, Features EditorLast night was one for the record books.

Last night was special.

Last night we honored Springfield business.

Last night we saw Johnny Morris tear up at the microphone.

Last night Springfield Business Journal celebrated 35 years and counting.

If you missed last night’s Economic Impact Awards, you missed one helluva party.

Roughly 240 of southwest Missouri’s finest came out to the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Oasis Convention Center for the 15th annual event, but from the moment he walked in the building, the star of one guest seemed to shine just a little brighter – Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris.

Honored last night with SBJ’s Lifetime Achievement in Business Award, Morris was as down to earth as a person can get, but his simple presence in the room created a buzz. He posed for endless photos and selfies and autographed copies of SBJ baring his face on the cover. He was both humble and grand all in the same instant.

The awards honored 12 businesses for their economic impact on the area, as well as a Business Advocate of the Year, Philanthropic Business of the Year, Startup Entrepreneur of the Year and a Community Involvement Champion. But last night was about more than just awards – it was about a business community. It was said from the podium multiple times, Springfield is a great place to do business and I believe it. I think Morris himself said it best at the close of his acceptance speech: “There is no place like America and no place in America like Springfield, Missouri.”

Congratulations to all of last night’s honorees and from everyone at SBJ, thanks for 35 wonderful years Springfield.

Reporter’s Notebook
As is my style, here’s a couple scenes from the evening as captured by my trustee iPhone.

From the moment he walked in – with former PBR rider Luke Snyder – everyone wanted to shake Johnny Morris’ hand.

From the moment he walked in – with former PBR rider Luke Snyder – everyone wanted to shake Johnny Morris’ hand.

One of my most requested photos, here’s a quick look at the appetizer assortment. The pulled pork Asian nachos were a big hit.

One of my most requested photos, here’s a quick look at the appetizer assortment. The pulled pork Asian nachos were a big hit.

The main course, chicken Oscar, was on fleek.

The main course, chicken Oscar, was on fleek.

The Ramada Plaza Hotel and Oasis Convention Center stage looked beautiful as Publisher Jennifer Jackson welcomed those in attendance.

The Ramada Plaza Hotel and Oasis Convention Center stage looked beautiful as Publisher Jennifer Jackson welcomed those in attendance.

We celebrated 35 years with a champagne toast. My view from the back included many happy hands in the air.

We celebrated 35 years with a champagne toast. My view from the back included many happy hands in the air.

The room was instantly on their feet as Johnny took the stage.

The room was instantly on their feet as Johnny took the stage.

In his nearly 15-minute speech, Johnny thanked the people who made him who he is today, his family.

In his nearly 15-minute speech, Johnny thanked the people who made him who he is today, his family.

For photographer Wes Hamilton’s photos from the evening, check out our photo gallery and head over to our Facebook page for people pics.

Last night truly was a night to remember.

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