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Opinion: Time to celebrate the cool things made in the Ozarks

Publisher's Perspective

Posted online

I  traveled to Napa Valley a few years ago and went on several winery tours. One of the most memorable parts of the trip (aside from the postcard-worthy scenery, delectable food and wines, and great company, of course) was the thrill of seeing row after row of shiny steel wine tanks made by Paul Mueller Co. right here in Springfield. Equally impressive were the wine caves fully lined with stacked oak barrels made by Independent Stave Co. in Lebanon.

I think it was something akin to pride that I felt as our group relayed to each vintner that the tanks and barrels they displayed so prominently came from our hometown. While not a single one of us could claim any more credit for the tanks and barrels than we could for a Chiefs Super Bowl win, we were clearly a part of something really cool if even just by proximity.

The truth is there are lots of cool things made in the Ozarks that are used all over the world. Springfield Business Journal wants you to know about them. This is precisely why we’re planning to debut a new event and special publication in April 2022 that we are calling Coolest Things Made in the Ozarks. Already on board for this project are Connell Insurance Inc. as presenting sponsor and Missouri Association of Manufacturers among the supporting sponsors to serve as a valuable adviser in the inaugural year.

MAM Executive Director Michael Eaton says the event and the recognition it brings are well timed.

“Manufacturing built this country and will also be what pulls us out of this challenging environment we find ourselves in today,” Eaton says. “We need to take a moment to celebrate all of the unsung heroes that showed up to work, brought rewarding and high-paying jobs back to the country and to this area. They bring needed solutions and great passion. They are making the cool things that help us thrive.”

What can you do to help bring this timely recognition, you ask? We need you, our readers, to tell us what you know. So many of the cool things made in the Ozarks are still fairly well-kept secrets.

Please nominate the cool companies and the great things they make locally for some well-deserved recognition. You can now submit worthy nominations, and creators can find submission guidelines, at

To be considered for the award, company officials will be required to submit two photos and a product description Additionally, applicants will respond to a few questions that will be used to assess product uniqueness, economic impact and the reason why it came to be made in the Ozarks.

A five-person selection committee – consisting of a representative each from the SBJ editorial team, Missouri Association of Manufacturers and manufacturing-related education, as well as two members of the broader business community – will narrow submissions down to the top 16, representing the diversity of our manufacturing industry. Those companies and products will then be featured in a special SBJ publication and presented at a live event, where an audience vote will determine Best in Show.

The overarching concept for this special editorial feature and event was internally championed by SBJ’s manager of finance and customer care, Amy Egger. She is the one eagerly awaiting nominations and who will be on standby to assist in any way needed. I am most eager to learn more about the great things that are made here and, of course, for the associated bragging rights extended to me for just being in close proximity to coolness.

Springfield Business Journal Publisher Jennifer Jackson can be reached at


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