The 2008 edition of our annual Progress Edition couldn't have been published at a more opportune time. Just when Wall Street seems on the verge of collapse and Americans everywhere are waiting for the sky to fall, the Cassville Democrat is putting out a publication that highlights the progress that is being made by Barry County businesses, organizations and industries. This special edition will give our readers the chance to see the economy from a more local level and realize that we just might be in a better financial condition than other areas of the country.
Now, we're not trying to tell you that times aren't tough, because they are. We are all struggling to deal with high gas prices, food prices and health care costs, but in the face of these challenges, it's nice to know that Barry County is still very strong financially. This strong foundation can be attributed to a diversified economy that includes business, industry, healthcare and tourism as well as seven school districts that employ hundreds of individuals while also providing an education to thousands of area youngsters.
Cassville and surrounding communities are also blessed to be served by a large number of financial institutions. Some of these banks are locally owned while others are regional or national banks. Together, these banks represent a solid base of financial support that can be trusted even in these times of financial insecurity. As one local banker stated, Barry County is a lot more conservative than Wall Street, and as a result, local banks are often more financially sound than their larger counterparts.
We hope our readers will take time to really absorb all the information that is contained within the 2008 Progress Edition. This county is full of entrepreneurs, experts in their field, top-notch industry specialists and visionaries who provide area citizens with a wide array of products, services and jobs. Without exception, companies and businesses that are thriving and growing have all found a way to provide a necessary product or service in a way that sets them apart from their competitors. The ability to provide exceptional customer service is another common attribute among this area's most successful enterprises.
This year's Progress Edition is full of success stories. It is always interesting to go out and find what progress is being made and discover just how much Barry County has to offer. It also reminds us of the importance of supporting local business and industry. As the old adage goes, if we don't use it, we could lose it.
I want to thank my staff for all their hard work in producing this year's Progress Edition. At times the task seemed overwhelming but everyone here was willing to put in the extra effort it took to put out another quality publication that we can all take pride in. It's always a team effort here at the Cassville Democrat, and I really am proud of our group of dedicated employees who include Darlene Wierman, Lindsay Reed, Teresa Richards, Veronica Zucca, Robyn Blankenship, Jennifer Obermann and Kevin Funcannon.
This year's Progress Edition includes 56 pages and is our largest ever. I am very pleased with the finished product and hope our readers find it interesting, insightful and informative. I also want to thank each and every one of our advertisers who participated in this year's publication. Without you, the 2008 Progress Edition would not have been possible. We appreciate your continued support and it's a pleasure to report on all your progress, accomplishments and successes.