We can't let Gary Pulsipher retire without noting the consequential role he played in the aftermath of the Joplin tornado in May 2011.
We're not talking about his leadership setting up temporary hospitals and then rebuilding the hospital, although he deserves much praise for that.
No, in the aftermath of the tornado, Pulsipher, then the president of St. John’s Regional Medical Center, said they would continue to employ all of the hospital's employees, even though there was no longer any hospital.
“That’s 2,200 people at full pay,” he told the Globe at the time. “That’s a huge deal. We’re getting many of them placed in (nearby) Mercy hospitals to keep their skills up.”
That decision meant people didn't have to leave their storm-wrecked community, and it also led the way, as other employers soon made similar commitments.
That was one of those turning-point moments in getting Joplin back on its feet.
Pulsipher retires July 26.
We'd also like to take a moment to thank the volunteers from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church who gave the playground at Cecil Floyd Elementary School a needed makeover.
About three dozen volunteers repainted designs on the playground blacktop, donating labor and equipment. They painted new hopscotch and four-square lines, a giant caterpillar containing each letter of the alphabet, a flower with numerals on its leaves, a large race track and more.
“Really, the whole school is going to benefit from it,” Stephanie Reither, a kindergarten teacher at Cecil Floyd, told us. She also noted that more 100 kindergartners use the playground during their recess time.
The church is the school's Bright Futures partner, and the volunteers set an example for all of us to follow — taking ownership of our community.
There also was some good economic news, this time on the north end of town.
The Joseph Newman Innovation Center, 407 S. Pennsylvania Ave., was approved for $65,074 in state tax credits. Now the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce can solicit corporate and private donors who will receive $1 of Missouri tax credit (up to the $65,075 limit) for every $2 contribution to the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which is the not-for-profit that owns and operates the business incubator.
Toby Teeter, president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, told us recently, “We are converting a portion of the building to co-working ‘shared’ space that comes with a desk, chair, free WiFi, and shared conference rooms, kitchen and bathrooms. Participating entrepreneurs will be able to participate in mentorships and programs such as monthly e-commerce meetups, the new Joplin 1 Million Cups speaker series and upcoming Ed Talks covering topics like Amazon Seller Central, Facebook advertising and omni-channel sales and distribution.”
Teeter also said the Joplin chamber, the Small Business and Technology Development Center at Missouri Southern State University and the Downtown Joplin Alliance are working together to form and service a Joplin Regional Innovation Hub.
We're excited by the possibilities.