Lake of the Ozarks Regional Economic Development Council (LOREDC) honored three Lake Area businesses and business associates as part of its annual awards during the organization's annual meeting held on Jan. 24 at the Country Club Hotel and Spa in Lake Ozark.
Co-Mo Electric Cooperative received the 2012 Business Partner of the Year award, and Steve Thompson of Bridal Cave was honored as the 2012 Business Person of the Year. Lastly, Rich Scharlott of Lake Ozark Solar was named the 2012 Emerging Enterprise of the Year.
The Business Partner of the Year has experienced significant business accomplishments in the past year, such as growth in jobs, and/or exemplary community involvement. The Business Person of the Year is a business owner/manager that has made a contribution to the economic welfare and/or has made a considerable donation of time and resources to the community. The Emerging Enterprise of the Year is a business that best displays the innovation, entrepreneurial accomplishments and/or utilization of emerging technology.
Co-Mo Electric Cooperative. This member-owned electric cooperative serves more than 2,300 square miles including the Lake of the Ozarks from Highway MM Toll Bridge/Hurricane Deck Bridge area on the south through the lake communities of Sunrise Beach, Laurie, Gravois Mills, Stover, etc., and further north to Tipton and Boonville, LOREDC stated in the release.
Just as this cooperative brought electricity to a rural area in the 1930's, they have embarked on a similar endeavor through a subsidiary called Co-Mo Comm to bring high speed Internet services to its business and consumer members, many of whom have nothing more than a slow dial up option through their phone provider. There is also the option to receive competitive telephone and television services through the same fiber optic network. Co-Mo Comm is now working to bring the Internet services throughout the entire service area. The economic development benefits of this project are tremendous, according to LOREDC.
Additionally, the cooperative provides an excellent example of community involvement through its directors, officers and employees. They participate in a multitude of civic, school, church and community activities throughout the service area. Whenever natural disasters happen in other parts of the country, their employees volunteer to help with the recovery efforts, along with use of the cooperative's equipment as needed.
In accepting the award, President Ken Johnson thanked the group and said he had never received an award, and it was a pleasure to be recognized in this way. He introduced Corey ten Bensel and Randy Klindt and said that "our employees are the cogs in our wheel." Ken said in 2014 they will celebrate their 75th year in business, LOREDC stated.
Thompson, also known as the "Cave Man," is always thinking of the entire Lake Area and ways to grow tourism. He has implemented many strategies for the area that have impacted businesses, such as the Lake Area Map. Bridal Cave has their ad on the back of a tear-out map that is distributed Lake-wide.
As most people know, they also have weddings at Bridal Cave and every year they have a day where anyone can renew their vows at the cave for free. They offer a full wedding ceremony that is quite romantic. Thompson also offers many free days to locals to tour the cave and in return, they promote his business. He organized a food drive to help the local charities and he promotes the Lake nationally through the National Cave Association, LOREDC stated.
He was instrumental in bringing their annual meeting to the Lake this upcoming year. Thompson also got the Bridal Cave recognized in Ripley's Believe It Or Not. He is a huge advocate of the Lake and well deserving of this award.
In accepting the award, Thompson said he was honored and humbled to receive the award, and appreciated this recognition. Thompson said during the LOREDC meeting that Bridal Cave has been in business 65 years and they couldn't do it without the support of the community, the news release reported.
Scharlott and Garrison Murphey opened Lake Ozark Solar in 2010 in Lake Ozark. They knew this area would be a key location to incorporate a "go green" approach to living. Their vision is to create a network of energy conscious individuals and businesses who are interested in making a difference in our communities, our environment and our economy through incorporating "green living," LOREDC stated in the news release.
Lake Ozark Solar is very active with the Chambers and the CVB to network and build their business. The advantage of solar power is it is a renewable resource, it is non-polluting and the energy and heat from the sun is free, according to LOREDC. Solar cells require very little maintenance, they can last a lifetime and solar power is incredibly versatile. In remote locations, solar power may be a more realistic energy option than running large lengths of electrical wires to connect to a grid. Solar power is also an attractive investment due to the added value it gives a home, as stated in the news release.
In accepting the award, Scharlott thanked LOREDC for the award and wanted to thank the community for an amazing year. He said they are looking forward to 2013, according to LOREDC.
Outside of the annual award presentations, LOREDC's annual meeting also included guest speaker former Sen. Bill McKenna, who is the co-chairman of the Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri's Transportation Needs. Representatives from Camden and Miller counties and the cities of Camdenton, Eldon, Lake Ozark, Sunrise Beach and Osage Beach also talked about what's happening in their municipalities. In addition, representatives from the Lake Area, Camdenton and Eldon chambers of commerce also gave reports during the meeting. Corey ten Bensel from Co-Mo Electric gave the update for Morgan County and the cities of Laurie, Versailles and the Lake West Chamber. Representatives from Ameren Missouri, Co-Mo Electric, Lake Regional Health Services, Summit Natural Gas, Schultz Surveying and Engineering, and Central Bank Lake of the Ozarks updated the group on economic development for their respective area and LOREDC Board Member Jacob Neusche gave an overall update for the banking industry.
Mac McNally, regional planner for the Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments (LOCLG) announced that Linda Conner was recently named executive director of the LOCLG, and McNally told the group what was happening in their organization. Eldon Schools superintendent Matt Davis, Camdenton Schools superintendent Tim Hadfield, and School of the Osage superintendent Brent Depee talked about issues in their respective districts. Jackie Rasmussen talked about the University of Missouri Extension, and Cheri Tune from the Missouri Department of Economic Development/Workforce Development and Stacy Burks of Senator Roy Blunt's office also spoke during the annual meeting, LOREDC's news release stated.