Brad Bollinger: Winners represent best practices for the times and the next opportunity

In the spring of 2009 when we were starting in on the six-month-long process of choosing last year's Best Places to Work, the Dow Jones industrial average had fallen to 6,547.05 and a sense of panic was in the air.

Some may recall at the time we joked, darkly, that we would have to rename the program "Places to Work."

Just 18 months later, the Dow has risen nearly 60 percent from that March 9, 2009 low. And while the economy is nowhere close to where it should be and the recovery has been unnecessarily slow, the air of panic is pretty much gone. Worry has been replaced by a grudging acceptance of reality and a rising acknowledgement – and in some cases, unfortunately, frustration – that we need a change of course.

Even in housing, which has taken the brunt of this downturn, opinion is slowly coming around to something akin to what economist Christopher Thornberg has maintained: The housing recovery everyone anticipates has already occurred. That is, prices have come back into something approaching reality.

Through this economic and social crucible, the 2010 Best Places to Work have demonstrated excellence, flexibility and resilience.

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