CHAMBER NEWS

Business leaders and site selectors make decisions about where expansions will occur. Just imagine the number of factors they are considering and the number of locations that might fit. Think about buying a new car…all the options you have when you start. Make, model, color, new, old. Do you want an SUV, do you want a car, V4 or V6, is gas mileage important, is space important…the list goes on and on.

For a business, the list is far greater, they are looking at the cost of building, access to labor, ability to transport goods and many other issues. Internally they will determine what is most important to them so they can eliminate regions. For instance, some businesses may decide cost of building is the most important thing and they simply can’t be in a region that is at a high risk for earthquakes. When we receive the application from that business and check the box indicating our earthquake zone, we are immediately eliminated from consideration. No questions asked and nothing we can do. There are countless things they consider and the Cape area has to line up well with their needs to move to the next stage.

Once we’ve made it through with a business, we sometimes have an opportunity to meet face-to-face. We feel really good at that point because we have a strong community with a lot to offer. In fact, many businesses that decide to move to the Cape area have some sort of tie to the community. They know someone who has spoken highly of the region or they work with a business here. Those connections, connections with all of you, make a real difference in recruiting businesses. It’s all of us who shape southeast Missouri’s story and you never know who is listening.

If you know of any business that is considering moving to the Cape area, we would love to talk with them. Contact us at 335-3312 or sburner@capechamber.com

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When disaster strikes, there is one little known organization that helps things run smoothly behind the scenes.  

In light of recent storms, I wanted to share some information about a local group: The Community Organizations Active in Disaster or COAD. This group has representatives from community and faith-based organizations such as Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, hospitals and more. They meet regularly to talk about topics most of us just ignore…the what do we do if scenarios. And I have to tell you, as someone who has the privilege to sit in on these meetings, it is both terrifying and incredibly reassuring.

However, it’s most encouraging to see them in action. When the Perryville tornado hit, the COAD was activated, helping support the emergency manager with tasks like volunteer management, donation management, sheltering and feeding victims. In fact, our COAD was so effective in their role, the leader of the affiliated state-wide organization said we should be a model for other communities throughout the state. So to all the organizations and individuals that make up the COAD, THANK YOU for your work.  

The local COAD is led by Kyle Schott, regional director of the Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri.

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On March 7, 2017, Element 74 celebrated a big milestone in the history of their organization by cutting the ribbon on a recent expansion. They started in 2000, founded by Chris Edmonds as sole owner and operator. From the beginning, Element 74 built their brand around providing exceptional customer service.

Over the years, they have continued to add employees and have been consistently dedicated to employee development, experiencing very low turnover rates.

Company growth has demanded expansion of staff. In fact, in the year 2016, they grew 20% alone, going from 15 to 20 employees and have continued to add. They now sit at 22 employees with no signs of slowing down.

In order to accommodate the new employees, Element recently expanded their facility from 2,200 to just over 3,500 square feet.  In the beginning, they serviced clients in Cape…now they work with clients internationally.

Their mission is to partner and collaborate with businesses and organizations to achieve their goals through smart digital solutions, while establishing lasting relationships built on trust and success.

Aside from all this, Element 74, Chris Edmonds and so many of their employees have been and continue to be dedicated to the Chamber and to Cape. Whether it’s service on a local board, hosting a Southeast student for a job shadowing experience or the many other things they do, Cape is very lucky to have them.

Here’s to continued success and growth! 

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connectCAPE

Less than 20% of Southeast Missouri State University graduates will make their life and career in the Cape Girardeau area. Increasing that number, is an important priority for the Cape Chamber.  

Talented workers come from many areas and all walks of life and it’s important to ensure strong workforce pipelines across the board. However, one of our best regional pools of talent is the 12,000 or so University students right here in Cape. After spending five years working for Southeast, where I had the incredible opportunity to meet thousands of alumni all over the world, I can confidently say the more of these alums who live in our area, the better off we will be. The better off our economy will be.  

In order to increase the percent who stay, the Cape Chamber and the University are working together to build a program called connectCAPE, with the basic idea of getting students connected with businesses. We have hosted a few small events and recently branched into the next phase, a job shadowing program. We started small with just 10 students, but we hope to match many more students and businesses in the fall. Having more available talent will result in more jobs coming to our community.

We understand many students will move on from Cape Girardeau and we of course want them to find the right path. However, it would be a shame if a student graduates from Southeast without ever having a chance to see what the business communities in Cape and Jackson can offer.

Of course this program only works if it benefits students, which is truly at the heart of the effort. Giving students earlier access to more real-world settings will undoubtedly add value to their education.

Ultimately, this is a win-win-win, which makes it a priority. Students are better prepared to enter the workforce and make career choices. The University is providing better support to students. Businesses in our area are able to access more talent. It is small today, but we will continue to water the seeds and foster the growth as long as the outcomes continue to look promising for all. 
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carGO is such a bright spot in Cape for several reasons. First of all, they are filling an important need in our community. Transportation is a quality of life issue and having a ride-sharing service is a strong improvement. There are many examples of customers from foreign exchange students at Southeast to elderly Cape residents. But perhaps the most compelling use case is a visually impaired couple who have use the service more than a dozen times. This allows them the freedom to quickly run out and grab lunch or do some shopping. Just an incredible story.   

Secondly, they are bringing jobs and extra income. This type of work is known as the “gig economy,” basically a marketplace that utilizes short-term contracts or freelance workers. It’s critical we embrace this new economy as the world moves more in this direction. There are currently more than 60 carGO drivers.

Finally, what’s really exciting to me, is to see viable, scalable businesses STARTING in Cape. carGO isn’t the only example, but it’s a good one. They have over 1,600 customers who have downloaded the app and delivered over 500 rides. They are considering adding additional services in the future and expanding to other similar communities. 

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MAGNET Helps Create Jobs

Our region has worked hard over the years to bring in new businesses and keep the ones we have. All in an effort to help bring jobs. In fact, since 1992, an organization called Cape Girardeau Area MAGNET has led the way.

MAGNET is funded by Cape Girardeau County, the cities of Cape, Jackson and Scott City, and the Cape Chamber. These five entities came together to create a regional approach to business growth.

Statistics show that approximately 80% of our job growth comes from existing businesses. Through MAGNETs Business Retention and Expansion program we help these job creators navigate governmental issues, connect them with new potential employees or even help them expand.

But it’s really more than working with individual businesses, it’s identifying key trends that help shape strategic decisions in our region. For instance, after meeting with area logistics companies, we could see there was a shortage of Commercial Drivers Licenses, CDLs. Since that time, we’ve connected several people around this issue and continue to make progress toward decreasing this shortage. This is just a small example of how MAGNET is working to improve our region and pave the way for our existing businesses to create more jobs. 

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Jackson Spec Building

The Jackson Industrial Development Committee, or JIDC, recently embarked on a journey to add more inventory with the construction of a spec building located on six acres in the city limits of Jackson, Mo. It is a 50,000 square foot facility with 30-foot ceilings completed in 2016. 

There are a few key elements to the spec building that make it attractive to businesses. Many modern companies need facilities with high ceilings that much of our aged infrastructure is unable to accommodate. The 30 foot ceilings will be adequate for most businesses. 

Additionally, the spec building is really a blank slate. The foundation and arteries already exist and the guts can be added specifically as needed by the new tenant or owner. Most businesses like the idea of having a new facility, built to suit, that can be ready to go much quicker than if they were starting from scratch. 

There are potential new businesses considering our community every day. The Jackson spec building is one piece of inventory that makes our region more attractive for consideration. There are of course many other buildings available in the region. Ultimately the goal is to connect a potential business with a facility that matches their needs…then and only then will we have a chance of bringing those jobs to our region. 

 
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