Are Springfield businesses ready for the Metaverse?

Virtual reality and how Springfield’s economic development can benefit from the Metaverse will be key topics during the upcoming annual meeting of the Greater Springfield Partnership.

The annual meeting, which brings together dozens of Springfield and Clark County businesses and organizations, is slated for Feb. 23 at the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center on South Limestone Street.

Keynote speaker of this year’s event will be Aaron Brossoit, CEO of Golden Shovel Agency and economic development expert.

Golden Shovel Agency specializes in communication and economic development, credited with pioneering the use of virtual reality tools for economic development.

Brossoit’s Minnesota-based agency worked with the Greater Springfield Partnership during its rebranding a few years ago through website redevelopment and content marketing, according to Greater Springfield Partnership vice president of destination marketing and communications Chris Schutte.

During Brossoit’s talk next week, he will discuss how companies can use technologies like virtual and augmented reality to promote themselves in the Metaverse.

The Metaverse refers to a virtual-reality space where users can interact with an environment, generated by a computer, while also interacting with other users. In economic development, it’s already being used by businesses to host virtual tours and attract talent.

Brossoit’s talk will aim to show Springfield businesses and organizations how they can engage with the Metaverse and virtual reality tools.

“This is next-level technology happening right now,” Schutte said. “So we wanted to bring in someone who could speak to our membership and give them a roadmap of how that is happening, what our expectation should be and when it’s coming.”

The annual meeting will also look back at economic development that progressed in 2022: housing development, the expansion of businesses and more.

Also honored during the annual meeting will be several business owners, including Dan Young, this year’s recipient of the Richard L. Kuss Lifetime Achievement Award.

The annual award honors business leaders with servants’ hearts, Schutte said.

Young is the CEO of Young’s Jersey Dairy outside Yellow Springs, a business that attracts more than 1.5 million people to the area each year, Schutte said.

Young will be recognized for not only his business’ growth, but also his community engagement, Schutte said.

Also receiving awards will be McGregor Metal, KK Tool and the Springfield Promise Neighborhood.

A retiring board member and past chair of the partnership, Tom Sothard, will also be recognized.

The partnership’s business expo will be returning in full force before the annual meeting kicks off in the Hollenbeck Bayley Center. The expo, which will feature dozens of area businesses, begins at 4 p.m.

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