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2020 Brought An Economic Boom To Lake Of The Ozarks

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Business Developments & Announcements In 2020 - Collage

The year we just left historians to sort out was, by any interpretation, an economic tragedy in the U.S. and much of the world. Government responses to the coronavirus resulted in the permanent closure of countless businesses and disruption on an unheard-of scale. But at Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., when government officials opted out of shutdowns, the local economy boomed.

With some exceptions, Lake area businesses had a better year than many had ever seen.

Here are 11 stories from LakeExpo in 2020 that illustrate the incredible growth at the Lake: from new projects to business buyouts to long-awaited grand openings.

#1 - Best Memorial Day Ever

It almost didn't matter who you asked. Many Lake of the Ozarks businesses had the best Memorial Day weekend any of them had ever seen. Much of the country was still shutdown or only partly reopened from the 15 Days To Slow The Spread campaign, and it was clear that Americans were ready to vacation. Lake of the Ozarks—now wide-open for business—reaped the benefits.

#2 - More Boat Builders Are Relocating Near The Lake

An increasing number of the boats you see on Lake of the Ozarks are being built just a stone's throw from here. LakeExpo highlighted an interesting trend in 2020, and the story was widely read and shared.

#3 - Ballparks National Opens

The much-anticipated grand opening of the Lake's new destination baseball complex, Ballparks National, took place in the fall of 2020. The privately funded project's groundbreaking was in 2015; shortly after, construction came to a temporary halt for business reasons. But work resumed in 2019, and the first tournaments were played on the all-turf fields in the fall of 2020. The complex will bring families to the Lake area during the typically slower "shoulder season" of spring and fall, with the expectation that businesses dependent on visitors will reap the benefits of an increasingly year-round tourist season.

#4 - Topsider: Lake Hotspot Goes Condo

That iconic Lakefront club where you used to get your groove on, Topsider closed in 2017. In 2020, site-clearing work began, with the announcement that the shoreline spot would be developed into a condo complex with a unique vision. News of the development went viral, with many future condo owners calling realtor JR Hartenstein within hours after LakeExpo published the announcement, to reserve their spot in line.

About Jonathan Hartenstein: Greetings! My motto is “Experience True Customer Service.” Every client, every transaction, gets my fu…

#5 - Premier 54 Buys Advantage Marine

The major marine acquisition of 2020 brought east-side and west-side businesses together. Premier 54 continued their dizzying growth pace by obtaining a longstanding boat dealer on the Lake's west side, Advantage Marine.

#6 - The Odds Of A Casino

2020 was the year that a group of investors—most of whom have yet to make themselves known—said in no uncertain terms that the Lake area will someday have a casino. The proposal is predictably controversial, and it would require a change the state's Constitution, since casinos are currently permitted only on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. More on how it could happen, below:

The casino proposal and process bears surprising resemblance to a central element in the Netflix series Ozark. Read more about that in the newest issue of Shore Magazine: Click here to read online, or Click here to order your copy.

#7 - Major Real Estate Buyout

The big real estate acquisition of 2020 was this: Keller Williams at the Lake bought the iconic Four Seasons Realty. The merger positioned KW even further as one of the Lake's real estate powerhouses.

#8 - Malted Monkey, Old Navy, & First Watch Open

We all thought they were opening in April. We even wrote an article—not long before coronavirus shutdowns hit—about them opening in April. The three most buzzed-about new businesses at the Lake were delayed for a bit, but Malted Monkey, Old Navy, and First Watch all opened their doors in time to catch most of the summer bustle.

#9 - New Waterfront Amphitheater In The Works

A proposed waterfront amphitheater made more progress toward opening in 2020, after navigating the city of Osage Beach's zoning board. No open date has been announced yet, but the venue in the same cove as Backwater Jack's is being developed by Backwater (and Shady Gators) owner Gary Prewitt, who says he expects it to hold 2,000 people.

#10 - Frogs Is Bought

A popular dive at the back of the Gravois Arm came under new ownership at the end of 2020. The new owners are making some improvements to Frogs Bar & Grill, and it will reopen in 2021 as Maggie's On The Lake, after its Boonville namesake.

#11 - Big Thunder Owner Sells Big Business

Fred Ross, owner of Big Thunder Marine at Lake of the Ozarks, is also the owner of Iconic Marine Group, which builds Fountain, Donzi, and Baja powerboats. Ross sold, however, his trucking business in 2020: Custom Truck One Source. The pricetag? $1.4 billion. Nesco Holdings, Inc. bought the company and announced Ross would become the CEO of Nesco.


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