“A look at the history books would put one or both of you at the top for biggest construction projects in the county, highest total salaries, most use of hotel rooms by clients and vendors, and the list goes on.”


The President and CEOs of both Saint Francis Medical Center and SoutheastHEALTH talked business and collaboration at December’s First Friday Coffee program. The two healthcare systems can be credited with much of our market’s success, and the future is only looking brighter!


 Listen to the full conversation

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We are fortunate to have some incredible businesses in our community. Too many to highlight actually, but two recently received awards worth mentioning. 

The Drury Management team, part of the MidAmerica Hotel Corporation, was recognized as the Franchisee of the year at the Global Burger King Convention in Las Vegas. There are more than 13,000 Burger King Restaurants in 89 countries and the Drury team is actually the first Burger King Franchisee in North America to receive this award.

The Drury Restaurants organization has employed over 100,000 team members since 1972 when the first Burger King Restaurant opened on Broadway. In fact, there are plenty of leaders in this community who got their start as one the team members.

Drury restaurants has served over 300 million guests over the past 45 years. More than 60 million Whoppers!

Additionally, Plaza Tire recently received the 2017 Dealer of the Year Award from Modern Tire Dealer, the most prestigious award in the tire dealer industry.

Vernon “Pee Wee” Rhodes started the company 54 years ago in Cape. His sons, Mark and Scott now run the company which has grown tremendously. Plaza Tire now has 62 stores in four states generating more than $80 million in annual sales. With over 450 employees and more than 100,000 tires in their warehouse, Plaza Tire is the 18th largest tire dealer in the nation.

It is great to have both of these incredible companies headquartered here in Cape!

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The Community Improvement District, or CID, is a separate political subdivision with an appointed board and the power to impose sales and/or property taxes. CIDs can be formed by an ordinance within a governing body when more than 50% of the property owners sign a petition for it be created. Money collected by a CID may go toward public facilities or a variety of public services.

We have a downtown CID in Cape. It was created in 2014 after more than 50% of the property owners in the defined region signed the petition. Mayor Rediger appointed and the City Council approved seven of the property owners to serve on the board. Our downtown CID was established to provide trash and litter pickup, streetscape maintenance, holiday decorations, additional security personnel, security camera incentive programs, marketing and special events.

This example and the others I gave the last few weeks, are just a few ways we have used incentives in our region to make improvements and spur economic development. And having been involved even in a small way in some of these, I believe we are fortunate to have key leaders in our community, who are committed to utilizing these incentives appropriately and being good stewards of public money. 

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This is the second in a series of posts about economic development incentive programs. This week, I would like to briefly discuss Transportation Development Districts or TDDs. The State of Missouri allows certain groups to create a political subdivision that generates funds for transportation improvements through the collection of taxes. TDDs can be formed by registered voters, transportation authorities or property owners and must be approved by the circuit court of the county in which they are formed.

Let’s look at the Veteran’s Memorial Drive to better understand how TDDs work. In this case the entire tract of land had one owner. That owner elected to establish the TDD with a one-cent sales tax to be imposed on future sales. The developer was then responsible for paying all costs to build the road and other transportation infrastructure. After the development is complete, the TDD will begin receiving its portion of the revenue, which will then go back to the developer to reimburse for a portion of the original infrastructure development costs. 

This tool helped provide access and lay the groundwork for the development of the incredible new SportsPlex, which is already bringing visitors to our community. Those visitors stay in our hotels and eat at our restaurants, providing an economic boost to the entire community. With further development, we expect to continue seeing increased activity and City tax revenue as a result of this key regional project.

Check out MODOTs FAQs on TDDs here:

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Incentive Programs: TIF

Incentive programs are major tools used by communities to spur economic development, but they are often misunderstood. Over the next few weeks, I’ll briefly describe a few of the tools we use. We’ll start today with Tax Increment Financing, or TIF.

At its core, TIF is simply a municipality diverting future property tax revenue increases in a defined area toward improvements for a period of time. Let’s look at what that means using the Marquette project in downtown Cape.

The City of Cape created a TIF district that included many vacant or nearly vacant buildings, including the Marquette Tower and H&H. Developers then looked at that property with new math. If they rehabbed the building, they could retain some of the increased property and sales tax revenue to help pay a portion of development costs.  

Now here’s the key. The City, County and School were making virtually no revenue from these two buildings. This development, as is the case with all TIF projects, would not occur without the TIF. It’s actually called a “but for,” meaning but for the use of these funds, this project wouldn’t happen. And it is illegal to allow the use of TIF dollars if a but for hasn’t been met.

Because of TIF, we now have a $20 million development including a hotel, restaurants and office space, that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise. City, County and School tax revenue stays exactly the same. Then the hope is that this development will help create other developments, ultimately increasing activity in downtown Cape and improving our community in many ways. 

This is a really simple description. If reading about incentives excites you, here’s a link to some really good information about TIFs:

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"Getting Your Business Ready for the Holidays" Google Livestream Workshop

4 Things Your Small Business Should do in the Next Week

Small businesses are the growth engine of our economy, creating 2 out of 3 net new jobs, and businesses that are online grow 40% faster than those that aren’t. For this reason, The Small Business Administration, Google, Facebook, Square, and Constant Contact teamed up to help small businesses get online and grow with a free holiday, livestream workshop. The Cape Chamber, Old Town Cape, and Small Business & Technology Development Center hosted a viewing party for small businesses on November 1, 2017.

This workshop helps small businesses connect with more customers by teaching everything from search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, email marketing do's and don'ts, how to reach customers with mobile and video, and more.

While the workshop is available for viewing here, if you only have a few moments, here are four key takeaways that you should do in the next week to help prepare your business for the holidays:

  1. Build an inexpensive mobile lightbox to take quality photos of products. (Example:
  2. Don't wait! Grand plans and big ideas can often take a great amount of time and planning. Focus on what you can effectively do today.
  3. Use email marketing, and build that contact list.
  4. Train your staff on loading gift cards, taking tap payments and executing smooth transactions.
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The Cape Chamber named the 2017 Educators of the Year. They are as follows: 

• Ms. Jennifer Hecht, Cape Central Middle School

• Ms. Renee’ Peters, Notre Dame Regional High School

• Ms. Elizabeth Sterr, Alma Schrader Elementary

• Ms. Sarah Strohmeyer, Notre Dame Regional High School

• Dr. Dana Schwieger, Harrison College of Business Department of Accounting, Southeast Missouri State University

These five outstanding educators were honored at the Educator Appreciation Reception on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The honorees were given the prestigious Crystal Apple Award, a $500 check, resolutions of honor from the 

Missouri Legislature, and a commemorative video at the reception. The reception began at 4:00 p.m. with the program starting at 4:30 p.m. 

This is the twenty-fourth year the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce has honored well-deserving area educators with the Educator of the Year Awards. The selection process opened for nominations in late April and nominees submitted applications in July. A selection committee,made up of volunteers from the Cape Chamber membership, determine the winners every year. Selection criteria encompassed their efforts in professional development, educational history, teaching effectiveness, and community involvement. 

The Educator of the Year Award serves as a way for the business community to honor the hard work and dedication of educators in our area. The Educator Appreciation Reception is supported by very generous companies and organizations. The Cape Chamber thanks Wood & Huston for serving as the Title Sponsor for the event. The Chamber would also like to thank the following sponsors for helping make this event possible: 

Award Sponsors 


 Banterra Bank

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

Cape Girardeau Public Schools Foundation

Chap Arnold Insurance

Dille Traxel Architecture

Kohfeld Companies

Medicap Pharmacy


Robinson Construction

bistro saffron

Southeast Missouri State University

The Dale & Hancock Center for Individual and Family Therapy

Friends of Education Sponsors

 Child Care Aware of Missouri

Cultural Exchange Network


Osburn, Hine, Yates LLC – Ross McFerron

Patrick Furniture

The Bank of Missouri 

The Chamber thanks the many volunteers who assisted in the selection of the honorees. The Chamber also thanks Southeast Missouri State University for hosting the event at the Show Me Center, Friends of the Cape Girardeau Public Library for donating books for guests to take with them, and Mr. Jonathan Fritzler with Sightnsound Media Services for producing videos of the honorees.

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Failure Is An Option

Recently, I had a big failure. It was really pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, but for me it was big. I put hours and hours into achieving this one goal and didn’t even get close!  

It all started in early 2016 when I decided to be a runner. I’ve never been interested in running marathons. I just wanted to run 5Ks (3.1 miles) and run them faster. I’ve always been pretty active and had run a few races in the past, but no serious training. My best time prior to 2016 was around 27 minutes. After a few months of consistent training, I finished my first 5k in under 25 minutes. The night of that race, I decided to go for a much bigger goal: sub-22 minutes sometime in 2017.

In April this year, I was surprised when I finished a downtown Cape 5k in about 23:40. This was the encouragement I needed to kick training into high gear. With growing confidence, I set my sites on the City of Roses 5k on Sept. 15. I’ll spare you the ugly details of the actual race, but ultimately, I hit a proverbial wall halfway. I walked and jogged the second half, finishing in an incredibly disappointing 26:40, which is close to my time before I started training.  

Once the physical pain subsided, I immediately began dissecting the race…desperately trying to understand what went wrong. How did I fail so spectacularly? By the end of the night though, I had already identified the next race and formulated an adjusted training strategy. But more than anything, I actually started to feel pretty positive about the whole experience.

Look, this isn’t my first failure and not even close to the biggest. And yes, I’ve grown from the journey, but ultimately this made me think about failure on a much broader scale in my world. Specifically, what are the roles I’m playing in business and as a parent in creating a culture where those around me are willing to fail? Are they excited to tackle a big challenge, knowing it might not work. Am I there at the end condemning them for getting something wrong, patting them on the back saying “it’s OK,” or instead cheering for them and saying “that was awesome and look at what we know now.” And that’s my challenge to you, how are your words, actions and reactions contributing to your employees, co-workers, children, even your own willingness to take on the next big challenge?    

When we can embrace, even encourage, the right kind of failure, we can help our organizations and our community grow. To dig a little deeper on this topic, here’s a great TED Talk on how Google X celebrates failure:

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Cape Regional Airport

Over the last several years, Cape Air has provided consistent commercial flights, which was a major improvement for our region. They served us well at that stage in the development of Cape Girardeau, but now it’s time to take a step forward.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently approved plans for SkyWest Airlines to provide air service from Cape to Chicago starting this December. This announcement is big news. We are moving from a small propeller plane, to a 50-passenger jet with a flight attendant and a bathroom on board. SkyWest will be fully integrated with American, Delta and United at Chicago O’Hare Airport.

Last year we had around 5,500 passengers out of Cape, down from a peak of 6,500 in 2014. We hope to see those numbers grow significantly with the introduction of SkyWest. However, the economic impact of our airport goes well beyond just the passengers. According to MODOT’s most recent Missouri Statewide Airports Economic Impact Study, the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport is responsible for 202 total jobs with a payroll of $6.3 million and a total economic output of just under $20 million dollars.

Good air service is an economic engine, critical for business attraction and retention and good quality of life for a community. SkyWest is a great leap forward for our area and I encourage everyone to explore flying from Cape for business and personal travel. 

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Finding talent is certainly one of the most frustrating things facing employers. And I’ve found that as we talk about this challenge, invariably the topic of education, schools and children emerge. So today, let’s dive into this a bit.

First and foremost, I’m in constant communication with local educators at all levels. In fact, I’m married to one of them. These people do incredible work with our youth. And let’s not tackle the educational system as a whole today. Instead, let’s look at two specific ways our community and business leaders can get engaged.

First, there is an incredible nonprofit growing right here in Cape called ABCToday. This organization brings schools, businesses, parents, churches and other key partners together around the table all focused on improving student outcomes in attendance, behavior, reading and math. They are still in need of businesses to have a seat around that table. If you are interested in ABCToday, contact Ashley Seiler at

Next, Junior Achievement has a well-developed curriculum designed to teach kids basics about community, finance, government and more. They do this by enlisting volunteers from the business community to go into the classroom for less than an hour a week to teach a pre-developed lesson. I know they are looking for more volunteers right now.

These are just two examples of programs that allow us to get involved. There are more. Ultimately, we can talk about what’s wrong or we can volunteer, we can get into the schools and see the amazing work being done and play a small role in helping our youth be better prepared for life and work.

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