A billionaire whose family’s plans play a key factor in the the city of Ozark’s future has been named to the Forbes Magazine list of the 400 richest Americans.
Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, checks in as the 207th richest person in nation with a personal net worth of $3.8 billion.
“Morris started the company in 1972 by selling fish tackle from the back of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri,” Forbes writes of Morris in a brief biography.
Morris, 71, was also given a score of 9 on a 10-point scale in Forbes’ criteria for “self-made” fortune.
Megan Morris, daughter of Johnny Morris, shared the vision of the Finley Farms project with reporters at a press conference Aug. 1, 2018. Finley Farms includes the revitalization of the historic Ozark Mill and the conversion of what was once a Missouri Department of Transportation garage and a plant nursery into a working farm with multi-purpose communal meeting space.
The development plan calls for a restaurant, a speakeasy-style bar, agricultural farm development, river access and nature trails and a multi-purpose building that can house educational classes and seminars.
The mill has been in Ozark since the town was settled in the 1830s. It became known as Hoover’s Mill. Bass Pro Shops developers are working to preserve as much of the history as they can as the building is revitalized.
In a video released Aug. 1, 2018, Johnny Morris described the effort behind saving the Ozark Mill.
“It’s an engineering feat and a physical, hard work feat. All these craftsmen that are part of this—I hope they have a lot of pride in what they’re doing and what they’re helping preserve,” Morris said. “It had to be moved, but it wasn’t easy to do, that makes it more special in the long run. It’s worth every effort to try to save it and maintain it.”
Forbes also recognized Morris’ contributions to charity, noting that he gives away about 10 percent of his fortune with $421 million in giving.
In 2017, Bass Pro Shops bought rival Cabela’s for $5 billion, effectively doubling the reach of Bass Pro Shops.
The group owns the largest boat manufacturer in the world, by volume, White River Marine Group. The company makes fishing and recreational boats.
Big Cedar Lodge hosts more than one million guests per year.