An appearance by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson helped smash all previous attendance records for the Ozark Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the Community night.
Ozark Chamber of Commerce Director Anna Evans reported some finals tallies to the Ozark Board of Aldermen on Oct. 7, just four days after the governor spoke to a crowded room at First Baptist Church in Ozark.
Evans told the city government that 181 people registered for the 2019 Ozark State of the Community night.
“That is the most attendees that we’ve ever had at that particular event, so we were really excited about that,” Evans said.
The previous high attendance, according to the chamber of commerce, was 144.
Parson was elected Lt. Governor in 2016 and served in that role until then-Gov. Eric Greitens resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct and misuse of government data in 2018. Parson was sworn in to finish out Greitens’ unexpired term, and is now campaigning to run for his first full term as governor in the 2020 election.
Parson’s stop in Ozark was not a campaign rally, but a gubernatorial visit. Earlier in the day, Parson visited Alpine Aviation Group, a company which recently leased part of a building in Ozark to assemble wiring harnesses for military helicopters.
Parson then spoke on workforce preparation and state government infrastructure projects at the State of the Community dinner. He also parted with some words of encouragement for the Ozark business community.
“It’s our time. It’s our time to make sure we work a little harder, we make these communities a little better, we make our school system a little better, we make sure these young men and women coming out of school are prepared for the workforce, we make sure Missourians are prepared to compete in the United States of America and globally,” Parson said.
The State of the Community night is put on annually by the Ozark Chamber of Commerce. The event sold out just days after Parson was announced as its keynote speaker in September.
This year’s event also included status updates from the city of Ozark, the Ozark R-VI School District and Dr. Jeff Jochems, president of the Ozarks Technical Community College Richwood Valley campus.
Parson’s address and the attendance record sets a new precedent for the annual event, one that Evans doesn’t take lightly.
“We’re thinking about what we’re going to do next year,” Evans said. “The legislative affairs committee really, really enjoys working on the logistics and making plans for that event.”
Ozark Mayor Rick Gardner praised the work of the event organizers.
“I know that was a lot of work on your all’s part, and you knocked it out of the park. I know the attendance was good, but everything about it was just first rate,” Gardner said.
Evans thanked the staff and the people at First Baptist Church in Ozark.
Happy Chef Catering Company served as the food provider for the Ozark State of the Community dinner.