REDI Report – August 22, 2015

RoadSnacks doesn’t even know our town

I’d like to think that it takes a lot to truly make me “mad” and get my blood pressure “boiling.” Well, last week something certainly hit a nerve and truly angered me. I know others have had the chance to chime in on the online RoadSnacks Worst Places to Live in Missouri report that listed Lebanon as the second worst city to live in our state, but now it’s my turn.

During last Friday’s Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce Business Builder Luncheon, which if you have not attended one of these before I urge you to add it to your calendar of activities, Chamber Director Darrell Pollock gave some heartfelt opinions he had on the ranking. And I am in agreement with him – the company should stick to ranking “road snacks.”

The worst thing about a report like this is that some people will truly believe it. Imagine if we were in the midst of working with a company to relocate here to bring dozens of jobs and new investment to town? What if the company’s top executives took stock in a poll like that? For the most part, I tend to believe that would not be the case and they would use better judgment, but you never really know.

The poll cited high unemployment. Well, for starters, we are seeing a positive trend in our unemployment rate. Our workforce is growing and we as a whole (our community and its respective employers) are putting these people to work. Our most recent few months of unemployment showed the best results in more than seven years. And to employers, higher unemployment can also tell the story that there is an available labor force, so you can’t necessarily consider the unemployment rate as “all bad” anyway even if it is higher than you would like.

It really bothered me that the poll took a shot at our schools. I will put our educational institutions up against any other school district in Missouri or any other state for that matter. We have passionate educators who are making a difference in the lives of the students they serve on a daily basis. How ironic that just a couple of days ago, U. S. News and World Report ranked Lebanon High School as one of the best high schools in the state of Missouri. Now THAT report I would have to agree with!

Of course, getting back to my more positive vibe, the good thing that came out of the negative RoadSnacks ranking, in my opinion, was that we, as a community, seemed to take offense to it. Sometimes it is easy to get down and think in terms of what we don’t have. But just like a little brother or little sister, “I might be able to say something bad about them, but YOU better not.” We took the same approach with our community and we were angry that a ranking could place us as one of the top worst places in our community.

So I hope we can take a moment this weekend to focus on the things that make Lebanon a truly great place to live. Our great schools are back in session. We have some fun fall sports coming up. There’s something going on to enjoy from an entertainment standpoint at Cowan Civic Center on a weekly basis. We have great churches to attend. People help people here as evidenced by civic clubs and organizations throughout our city. Hey! You know what? That sounds like a place I’d like to live and one of the BEST places to live in the state of Missouri, certainly not one of the worst.

(Brian Thompson is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Lebanon-REDI. He may be reached at his office at 200 E. Commercial Street at 417-533-5627, by mobile phone at 417-288-9737 or by e-mail at

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