We love celebrating new business at the Cape Chamber! In 2018 alone, Cape Girardeau welcomed more than 250 new businesses, and we think it's time you get to know some of our Chamber members that have recently opened their doors to our community. 


Get to know Blackbird Monogram & Gift with Owner, Nikki Burton 
A: 1812 Carondelet Ave Suite 104, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
P: (573) 999-1482



When was your business established?

February, 2018


What services does your business offer?

We are a full service gift shop offering a wide selection of unique gift items including clothing, accessories, children's items, gourmet foods, pet and home décor. Our items include free personalization and free gift wrapping.

What did you do before? Are you juggling multiple careers?

Before founding Blackbird Monogram & Gift I worked fulltime doing Home Stagings and Interior Design for a firm in Columbia, MO. During that time I also opened and managed The Nest Boutique, a jewelry and accessory store located in Columbia, MO.

How big is your staff?

Currently we are a staff of 1 (Me), with the support of my husband Cole Burton in his down time. I am blessed to have family support and will be looking to hire some part time individuals in the coming weeks.


What are your plans for your business' future?

We have only been open a couple of weeks in the Cape Girardeau Community, however I do hope to expand within the coming year, I may have a few more ideas up my sleeve.


What's your most memorable moment with this business?

I would have to say learning the personalization side of the business. My husband and I purchased all this equipment to do custom embroidery and scan & cut vinyl, and then looked at each other and said "now what?". We have taught ourselves everything we know and have been having a blast doing a bunch of custom jobs for our clients.


What would you say to someone regarding the importance of shopping small/local?

This is a topic I am super passionate about, we need to support our brothers and sisters in our communities, keep our tax dollars local! Shopping small, ensures a thriving community which is so important for everyone. I know the convenience of shopping online appeals to many, but let’s not forget the value of making connections with those individuals you do business with. To me the relationship is everything, but there is a lot to be said for the sensory experience of shopping local, by being able to touch, feel, smell, and in some cases taste, what your buying.


What advice do you have for someone starting out in business?

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. As a new business owner, I think it’s important not only to prepare yourself for the increased growth in your business, but also for the down times in business. Business is a marathon not a sprint, planning ahead for those obstacles will help you overcome business challenges.

What's the best thing about having a business in Cape Girardeau?

Cape Girardeau is a great community, I feel the people of this community are thirsty for more locally owned shops and restaurants to go to. While this area offers a wide variety of shopping, Cape was in need of a unique place that offers a variety of giftable products that can be personalized for a more intimate shopping experience.

How does the Cape Chamber help you?

I believe the Cape Chamber builds a sense of community amongst local business owners. I look forward to making many new connections with members that can help me grow and take my business to new heights.


What is one thing someone reading this can do to help your business?

Come shop with us! Tell your friends and family about us. We would love to help personalized needs, including logos! Come in and let us assist in picking out that perfect gift for that special someone in your life.

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For more information, contact: 
John Mehner, CCE, IOM 
President & CEO, Cape Chamber
220 N. Fountain St.
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
(573) 335-3312 |

Cape Chamber Board of Directors Takes Position on Proposition Y

Cape Girardeau, MO, March 5, 2019 – At the March 5, 2019 Board of Directors meeting, board members of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously in support of Proposition Y – a No-Tax-Increase Bond Issue being brought before voters on April 2, 2019.

Proposition Y is the third phase of the Cape Girardeau Public Schools’ comprehensive plan and is an investment in Educational Facilities and Resources that can have a real and significant Community Impact, including:
• $4M renovations to Alma Schrader and Jefferson Schools
• $4M new aquatics facility – size and plan to be determined
• $1.5M for a new, centralized Pre-K
• $850,000 roof, HVAC, and parking lot repairs

A Yes vote on Proposition Y positions our young people for the careers of tomorrow. The Cape Chamber Board of Directors encourages all to “VOTE YES” on Proposition Y on April 2, 2019.


About the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce

The Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce strives to be the lead advocate for business, serve as the primary catalyst for a vibrant economy that stimulates and retains jobs, and be the champion to create strong communities for the Cape Girardeau region, resulting in an enhanced quality of life.

For more information about the Cape Chamber, visit

Comments 0 Rating: Be the first person to rate this post. defines “hub” as the effective center of an activity, region, or network.

We often talk about the Cape/Jackson metro as a regional hub. But exactly why do we say that and what does it really mean. Let’s dive deeper.

We are the largest city between St. Louis and Memphis north and south, and between Clarksville or Evansville and Springfield east and west. Our daytime population often approaches 100,000 as we become a bevy of activity.

Several things drive this regional hub status. Education is one reason. Southeast Missouri State University leads this category but is also supported by other regional draws including the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center, Metro Business College, Southeast Missouri Hospital College of Nursing, and private high schools.

Healthcare facilities are also a major factor. Led by Saint Francis Healthcare System and SoutheastHEALTH, our area also has Landmark Hospital, a VA Home, and several other retirement and assisted living facilities. Others are on the horizon including a new VA clinic and a psychiatric hospital.

Shopping options are plentiful and result in more than $1.4 billion dollars of retail sales for our county. And the hospitality, restaurant, and recreational activities are diverse, strong, and recognized as industry leaders in their own way. Midamerica Hotels, Drury Hotels, and the new SportPlex have all received national recognition.

Think about this the next time you complain about traffic and parking. Pause, smile, and be thankful we are the regional hub of Southeast Missouri.
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February’s First Friday Coffee featured a program focused on Purpose Built Communities – an approach being modeled in Cape Girardeau’s south side to revitalize the community.

“PORCH stands for People Organized to Revitalize Community Healing. The south side is a part of the community that has been left out. It’s been abandoned. It’s time to change that,” says Dr. Tamara Buck, Vice Chair of PORCH.

“It’s time to bring [south Cape] back into the fold, and we want to do so in a way doesn’t just uplift the south side, it makes all of Cape Girardeau better and that ought to be the goal – to make all of Cape Girardeau worthy of respect. Worthy of discussion.”

“We don’t want the culture of the south side to change, but we do want to lift it up, so it is a safe and healthy place to live, just like the rest of Cape Girardeau.”

Read more below for a summary of the program.

What is Purpose Built Communities?

Purpose Built Communities is an assemblage of internationally recognized leaders of business, former Mayors, policymakers, philanthropists, community quarterbacks, directors of nonprofits, developers, education experts, finance and asset managers, grant writers, affordable housing directors, real estate executives, corporate officers, community planners, attorneys, consultants, and much more. This “dream team” of innovative thinkers is driven by a collective desire to transform communities, improve the lives of residents of underserved neighborhoods, end a cycle of intergenerational poverty, and set a new course for cities across the country.

Learn more at

How did the Purpose Built Communities concept find its way to Cape Girardeau?

About two and a half years ago, Cape Girardeau City Manager, Scott Meyer got a call from Earl Norman.

Norman said, “I read the Wall Street Journal – this Purpose Built thing – I don’t know what it is, but check it out.”

With skepticism, Meyer agreed and got in contact with the organizers of Purpose Built in Atlanta, where the program began. Shortly after, Norman flew Meyer, Mayor Rediger, and Councilman Joe Uzoaru to Atlanta to look at the program. Recalling this visit, Meyer shared, “20 years ago, Purpose Built started and it really, really works. So that, to me, was very intriguing and inspiring. We were impressed. We then asked Purpose Built to come to Cape Girardeau.”

How is Purpose Built being implemented in Cape Girardeau?

The Purpose Built initiative is being modeled in Cape Girardeau as the P.O.R.C.H. Initiative. A committee of residents is quarterbacking this effort, and their vision is to return the south side of Cape Girardeau to a united, hopeful community of motivated residents who prosper, support each other and live their dreams.

The work they do as a not-for-profit organization is aimed at providing a holistic approach to solving some of our community's biggest challenges. They help ensure their partners are empowered by creating opportunities for individuals and communities, and they are doing this by taking on the Purpose Built model. The Purpose Built model is a multi-dimensional approach focusing on:

1. Cradle-to-Career Education
2. Community Wellness
3. Mixed-Income Housing

Thus far, Cradle-to-Career Education is being tackled beginning with changes at Jefferson Elementary. In addition to implementing a STREAM education model, the culture is changing at the school. Family associations are being formed and attendance is rising. Additional components of this area to be addressed include early childhood learning, vo-tech, employment opportunities, and more.

Many efforts have already been made to improve community wellness and safety. The police department has reworked patrolling in south Cape and has changed how they enforce in the area by building relationships with the people in the neighborhood, establishing an anonymous tip line and implementing a neighborhood roll call. Additional wellness and safety improvements made include a bright light program, an alley sweep and neighborhood development initiatives. Further improvements regarding the development of business and healthcare in the area were also mentioned as a necessity for this program.

Mixed-income housing “lifts up the whole neighborhood,” according to City Manager, Scott Meyer. “If you concentrate poverty, then all people see is poverty, and they will perpetuate poverty.” Taking the south side from a community of renters to a place where there are some rental units, some senior housing, and some homeownership is important to revitalizing the community.

“Please let me be very clear about this,” says Dr. Tamara Buck, Vice Chair of PORCH, “Purpose Built Communities is not about gentrification. It is not about fixing up an area of the city so we can move the current residents out. What we are talking about doing going back to that porches model that those elders talked about in the video. Improving the housing that exists there, and tearing down the deteriorating structures and building new. And then, providing education to the residents who are there as renters, so that they can [develop a pathway to ownership and become home owners]. That’s going to be an important part of this thing.”

PORCH is working with developers and community members on how to go about this.

How can you help?

“If you want to help, reach out. There is work to be done,” says Dr. Buck.

Email –

To view the full First Friday Coffee program, please visit the Cape Chamber’s Facebook page. A quick link to the video is available here.

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October Unemployment Numbers

The latest statistics are out and Cape Girardeau is at or below record numbers for our area.

We recently received October unemployment numbers - as they tend to run about 30 days behind. According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), Cape County has a 1.9% unemployment rate. We have a workforce of 40,925 and 40,135 of them are working. Scott County's unemployment rate has dropped to 2.4% and Perry County is at 1.7%.

We understand the discussion concerning the accuracy of defining the workforce for the purpose of determining unemployment. We also understand this number says nothing of underemployment. However, this process is consistent, so the comparisons are valid for drawing some conclusions. These numbers support what we’ve heard from our local businesses - the labor market is tight and getting tighter.

One side effect of a tight labor market is increased wages. Employers tell us this is a very real situation in the Cape / Jackson metro. While this is good for workers, it may bring challenges for employers. As we continue to monitor the health of our local economy, one area we will be keeping a close eye on is inflation.

In addition, at the Chamber, we continue to focus on making sure our youth understand all available options upon graduation from high school through programs like connectCAPE. In the coming year, we will also continue to enhance our website,, as we ramp up the recruitment of people to our area.

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It is a difficult thing to define but a very important component of a vibrant community.

Quality of life is a much used phrase in the marketing materials of just about every area. But exactly what is quality of life and how do you measure it? And are there basic components that matter to everyone?

Several indicators are widely recognized in determining quality of life. They are: education, the economy, public safety, natural environment, health, social environment, government, and recreation / culture. These are important to all community members regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or religious beliefs.

It is important to be able to measure quality and success and, in today’s world, it is easier to do now than ever. Job growth, crime statistics, graduation rates, education opportunities, air quality, and recreation programs are just a few categories where numbers are readily available.

So how do we stack up in the Cape/Jackson metro? Very well, I’d say. Time does not permit me to review our successes and opportunities in each of the eight categories, but let’s mention a couple.

The economy is doing well. Access to all types of healthcare is tremendous. City and county government are strong and fiscally responsible. The University adds a lot of cultural opportunities. Air and water quality in the area are very good.

Take some time to notice the happenings in these specific areas so you can comment about our local quality of life.
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Redevelopment is a very important piece of an area’s economic development success.

In many ways, the Cape area is experiencing a renaissance. Certainly everyone is familiar with the redevelopment of the former Marquette Hotel, H&H building, and the old car dealership adjacent to the north. Those buildings now are home to a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, Baristas, the Chamber of Commerce, the CVB, Old Town Cape, Codefi, and many other businesses. But have you noticed what’s happening at the Town Plaza? Some new ownership has brought exciting changes to this mid-town location.

Andy Patel purchased many of the buildings and much of the land on the northeast side of the Plaza and is redeveloping the former Venue into a family entertainment center called Dogwood Social House. Along with food and beverages, it contains a large video arcade, a several lane bowling alley, simulation games, karaoke rooms, a cigar lounge, and much more.

Jack Ford purchased the former Sears building and moved his Slumberland Furniture store there. In addition, Laughing Gas Comedy N2O will be opening soon on the west side of the building close to Midori. And you can’t miss the other new additions to the Plaza. Harbor Freight, Planet Fitness, and Athletico Physical Therapy have opened in the last year. And recently both Krispy Kreme and Rosati’s Pizza have announced they’ll open soon.

Thanks to those who believe in our community and take risks. We are redeveloping nicely and we look forward to even more.
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Shop Local First
Holiday shopping season is upon us. November and December are huge months for the retail industry. Each one of us plays an important role in the success of our retail businesses. We realize it is convenient to order from Amazon or some other mega online retail source. But before you do so, please consider what the local shops have to offer.

A wide array of products and specialty items are available in the Cape Girardeau metro area. We have many national retailers and a tremendous mix of local, one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques. All of these places are staffed by your friends, neighbors, church members, and community risk takers. These folks would love an opportunity to do business with you, and it is so important to give them that chance.

You see, when you shop in the local area, you are supporting the jobs and livelihoods of all of these people. And also very importantly, your sales tax dollars support local governments which provide critical services including roads, police, and fire.

Ultimately, all we are asking is to please take a minute and consider directing your holiday spending to area businesses as much as possible.
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The newest segment of economic development is alive and well in the Cape Girardeau area.

For a long time, economic development was all about recruitment of new business and industry – period. Then the importance of business retention and expansion was realized and tourism entered the discussion resulting in economic development efforts being described as a three legged stool.

In the last decade, a fourth major area of prominence has made its way into these conversations. Entrepreneurship is a critical focus for all successful job creation efforts. Creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem and supporting start-ups plays a prominent role in long lasting job creation.

The Chamber is invested in local efforts along these lines. We work closely with Southeast Missouri State University which now has a major in Entrepreneurship and also operates Catapult Creative Center. Giving students both in class teaching and hands-on learning opportunities is reaping benefits.

Codefi is a private co-working space solely focused on providing the infrastructure and support needed to develop and maintain the environment necessary for entrepreneurs. Through Codefi’s efforts, the area has benefitted from 40 start-ups resulting in more than 130 jobs and more than $14 million in equity investments. The Chamber is a significant investor in Codefi and their programs.

This piece of economic development is here to stay and we are looking forward to our continued partnerships.
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The 2018 Membership Blitz kicks off at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, September 18. Meet the ambassadors who are teaming up to recruit new members and learn some of their favorite parts of Chamber membership!




Team 1

Amanda Geske, Banterra Bank | Chamber member for 1 year
“I love the membership driven newsletter, Member News! I find it incredibly easy to follow and stay up to date on the latest news and events my fellow members have going on.”

Michelle Jones, Banterra Bank | Chamber member for 14 years
“I am proud to say I was with the Women’s Network committee from the start! I love this group because you can meet other women from other businesses that you may have not ever met in your circle. Also, it’s a great way to network with business women in the community. The morning coffee and the luncheons are great and the ones I have attended I have always taken something back. I might be a little biased but I love the women on this committee! I feel privileged to be a part of it.”



Team 2

Brandy McIntire, FOX 23 KBSI/MY 49 WDKA Compulse Digital | Chamber member for 4 years
“I serve on the Cape Chamber Board of Directors and I have to tell you that it has really been a wonderful experience to get to get a behind the scene look at how this board helps shape the organization and make decisions and recommendations for the members’ prospective interests. The Cape Chamber Board has helped me meet more prominent people in the community and has helped to build those connections that help me in my profession as well.”

Zane McClard, Southern Bank | Chamber member for 8 months
“Cape Girardeau is a tight knit community. I feel that it is important for local businesses to support the Chamber to be involved in the community – customers notice!”




Team 3

Brenda Newbern, Visit Cape | Chamber member for 2 years
“My favorite networking event is First Friday Coffee. It gives me the opportunity to sit at the table with 7 other people and connect. I love getting to sit with someone and have a conversation about what they do and how I may assist them. Sometimes Visit Cape is already promoting their business and we are both working towards a similar goal, even though we have never met! And if I need to make a connection with a current business, odds are they will be at First Friday Coffee and I have the opportunity to connect. It is also the place where I feel if someone wants to get involved and meet the movers and shakers I can bring them to the FFC and offer them the opportunity to be successful!! It's a tool all in and of itself!”

Becky Welch, Candlewood Suites/Courtyard by Marriott | Chamber member for 5 years
“The Cape Chamber is an investment not only into our business, but also the economy of the Cape Girardeau area. The Chamber has assisted us by offering networking, low cost advertising, training, information resources, and other opportunities. It has allowed me to get to know our local businesses to see what products and services they offer.”



Team 4

Bridget Miller, Isle Casino Cape Girardeau | Chamber member for 3 years
“My favorite program offered by the Chamber is Chamber Young Professionals. This is a great way not only for our young professionals to network, but to get some insight and advice from professionals who have been working in different industries for a long time. I wish there was a program like this when I was just starting out. I think it is just so beneficial and well worth the time to join Chamber Young Professionals.”

Ellen Carlson, Sinclair Broadcast Group/FOX23 | Chamber member for 10 years
“I joined and continue my membership with the Cape Chamber because I find a great deal of value being a Chamber member. I have found that attending the multitude of events the chamber puts on to be great networking tools. I have gotten to know so many people and have formed lasting friendships and business relationships.”



Team 5

Carole Kinsey, MidAmerical Hotels Corp. | Chamber member for 8 months
“Being new to the area, becoming a member of the Cape Chamber helped me to learn the city and meet great people. The Chamber does an excellent job connecting businesses together to help us all.”

Beth Keller, Saint Francis Healthcare | Chamber member for 25+ years
“I think it is important for business to support the Chamber because they are really the back bone of your communities. They have your back when you need support, they are a great resource when you are looking for something or someone, and they promote your businesses as well. The networking that you gain and just a feel of the community vibe is so important especially for a newer business and they provide that. I’m in a couple different Chambers in the surrounding area and they are all a bit different but again, they are where it’s happening! The mission of the Chamber should be important to you because they are the ones representing you and your community in so many ways!”



Team 6

Debbie Pensel, First Midwest | Chamber member for 3 years
“I frequently visit the News & Events section of the Chamber’s website to update my calendar with Chamber events and I utilize the membership directory to see who the contact person for a business is for calling efforts. It’s a great tool!”

Heather Short, First Midwest | Chamber member for 10+ years
“I believe businesses should not only support the Cape Chamber, but be actively involved. A few of the many reasons why it’s important to maintain a membership with the Cape Chamber include that Chamber membership helps build your business relationships in the community with several networking opportunities, offers your business exposure through their publications and they refer potential customers to their members."


Team 7

Tiffany Barr, Ray’s Plaza Banquet Center | Chamber member for 3 years
“I think the Chamber Young Professionals is a great group offered by the Chamber. It's helped me grow as a young business leader and get out of my comfort zone. Plus, it's also a great way to make new friends and build long lasting business relationships.”

Kim Voelker, Cape Chamber | Chamber member for over 15 years
“I became involved through a previous employer and quickly realized the value of being a member of the Chamber. I served as an ambassador for several years and participated in Leadership Cape. Most Chambers are typically viewed as organizations that just offer networking events but our chamber also puts a lot of effort into economic and workforce development. The work we are doing is essential to ensuring our region continues to thrive.”


Team 8

Greg Vaughn, Media Leaf | Chamber member for 2 years
“Leadership Cape is an incredible opportunity for local business people to gain access to everything “Cape”. Through this program, the Cape Chamber helps you dive deep into the education system, local industry, media, policy making, healthcare, history, infrastructure, police and fire departments, plus more. You are granted access to the things that make the city work...Things many citizens don’t normally see or even think about. Through the program you learn a lot about yourself and how to understand other personality types in the workplace. You learn how to listen, when to talk, and how to come together as a team to complete a project. Regardless of your background or profession, I highly recommend the experience!”

Alan Schoen, Pepsi MidAmerica | Chamber member for 4 years
“Pepsi MidAmerica has been a member for years but I felt our participation was lacking. I have worked to increase our participation because I believe a strong and active Chamber is beneficial to all. The Cape Chamber has helped me make contacts and form business relationships that continue to be beneficial to Pepsi as well as me personally.”


Team 9

Megan Frank, Credit Bureau Services | Chamber member for 1 year
“Having a ribbon cutting with the Cape Chamber is such a great experience! Not only do you get to celebrate a milestone with your team members, but you also get to include the community! Plus, social media is a huge marketing tool currently and a ribbon cutting allows you to share these milestones with everyone!”

Michele Litzelfelner, Cape Chamber | Chamber member for 30+ years
“The Chamber supports and advocates for all businesses in the area, not just their members. Why would a business not want to support an organization that works to create a better quality of life for our community and region through advocacy, business retention and expansion, economic development and a stronger workforce to name a few?”


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Make the Most of Your Membership

Through Chamber membership, you can broaden your business contacts and referrals, enhance your leadership and professional skills and participate in projects that positively affect our area.

Learn More


First Friday Coffee
First Friday Coffee

Network with nearly 300 business leaders each month

Ribbon Cutting
Ribbon Cutting

Announce your opening, anniversary or ground breaking

Women’s Network
Women’s Network

Engage with hundreds of key female business leaders

Business Visit
Business Visit

Visit 1-on-1 with Chamber staff about your business needs