The Rolla Regional Economic Commission held a special meeting on Thursday evening, Dec. 21, at Just a Taste in St. James. At the meeting, Executive Director Cyndra Lorey presented a new award, just created by the Commission.

“A few weeks ago, I asked our board what they thought about the creation of a new award,” Lorey said, explaining how their new Economic Development Impact Award came to be.

“I recommended that we initiate the award being given to the company, organization, person or persons who have contributed to a major project, or projects that will make the greatest, positive long-term impact on our region,” Lorey said.

The award, according to Lorey, represents “a stone that is tossed into the water and sets off a ripple effect that will bring economic growth and prosperity for many people today and well into the future.”

Board President Ben Tipton was called upon to hand over the award to it’s first recipient, Mike Woessner, alongside his wife Linda. Woessner has been leading the charge on the Westside development project in Rolla.

“This year’s recipient [Mike Woessner] started their business 33 years ago-1984. They’ve been involved in a number of projects that have led to economic development throughout Phelps County. Most recent was the Westside development project. This project is projected to bring in hundreds of jobs to the Phelps County area.”

Tipton commended Woessner for the years of hard work and dedication that it has taken to make this particular development project possible.

Woessner stood to accept the award.

“We purchased this property nine years ago,” explained Woessner, I had this property listed and my listing was coming up. So I called the owner and I said, you know this could really be the next retail center of Rolla…”

That single conversation led Woessner to purchase the property and begin the process of development. While it was initially supposed to be a three to five year project, Woessner continued to rally the community around the development as it stretched to nine years.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to John Butz, Steve Hargis, The Mayor—Lou Magdits, the commissioners that were involved. It took a lot of people to bring this together,’ Woessner said.