Lake of the Ozarks Regional Economic Development Council presented annual awards Jan. 24 during its monthly meeting at the Country Club Hotel and Spa.
2012 Business Partner of the Year was awarded to Co-Mo Electric Cooperative.
This member-owned electric cooperative serves more than 2,300 square miles including the Lake of the Ozarks from Rt. MM Toll Bridge/Hurricane Deck Bridge area on the south through the lake communities of Sunrise Beach, Laurie, Gravois Mills, Stover, etc., and farther north to Tipton and Boonville.
Just as this cooperative brought electricity to a rural area in the 1930s, it has 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 an option to receive competitive telephone and television services through the same fiber optic network.
Co-Mo Comm is now working to bring Internet services throughout the entire service area. The economic development benefits of this project are tremendous. 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. The Coop will celebrate its 75th year in business in 2014.
2012 Business Person of the Year was awarded to Steve Thompson of the Bridal Cave (also known as “Cave Man”).
Thompson 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 its ad on the back of a tear-out map that is distributed lakewide. As most people know, they also have weddings at Bridal Cave and every year 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 they in turn promote his business. He organized a food drive to help the local charities and he promotes the Lake nationally through the National Cave Association. Thompson was instrumental in bringing the NCA’s annual meeting to the Lake this upcoming year.
Thompson also got Bridal Cave recognized in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.
In accepting the award, Steve said he was honored and humbled to receive the award and appreciated the recognition. Steve said Bridal Cave has been in business 65 years, and thanked the community for its support.
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2012 Emerging Enterprise of the Year was awarded to Rich Scharlott of Lake Ozark Solar.
Scharlott and Garrison Murphey opened Lake Ozark Solar in 2010 in Lake Ozark. They knew the lake 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 that are interested in making a difference in our communities, our environment and our economy through incorporating “green” living.
Lake Ozark Solar is active with the Chambers and the CVB to network and build their business. Advantages of solar power are: it is a renewable resource, it is non-polluting, and the energy and heat from the sun are free.
Solar cells require little maintenance and 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.
In accepting the award, Scharlott thanked LOREDC for the award and the community for an amazing 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 who has made a contribution to the economic welfare and/or who 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.