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Shad Burner

Cape’s regional hub status has long been an important part of our identity, one we must work to maintain in the years ahead. 

Growing up in Bernie, Mo., we made trips to Cape a few times a year. We shopped for clothes, books, cars, ate at the restaurants and enjoyed much of the retail offerings in town. It was an hour-long drive for us and this was certainly something many people from the area did on a regular basis.

When we look at our visitors today, retail is a major driver, but we also have people traveling to town for healthcare, entertainment and education among other things. Additionally, our business community attracts thousands of workers who commute to Cape every day. Our population actually balloons from 40,000 to around 100,000 each day.

These visitors generate a great deal of tax revenue that provides funding for critical services in Cape Girardeau. However, with the rapid shift to online shopping, Cape risks losing some of these individuals who travel here to shop as I did as a kid - individuals who now have many more options available to them online.

Moving forward, it is more and more important to ensure we are improving and expanding the services that bring people to Cape. Whether it’s offering world-class health care and top-quality higher education or entertainment that gets people talking and reliable passenger air service, the resulting visitors will remain a critical part of our local economy. 

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In economic development, our number one goal is for our community to have more jobs. So, how exactly does that happen?

Politicians always talk about job creation as if the government is responsible. I can tell you this, there is only one group truly responsible for job creation and that is businesses. In my roles as an economic developer, I certainly don’t create jobs, but rather simply work to clear the way for those jobs to be created.

A great example of job creation in Cape over the last year is the AT&T expansion of 150 jobs I’ve talked about on this show before. We have always worked to build relationships with AT&T, to maintain a business-friendly political climate and to help ensure they have a supply of qualified workers, but ultimately, those jobs were created completely the company itself.

One of the things we do is monitor the number of jobs being created in our community. The best report we’ve found shows that there were 418 net new jobs in the Cape Girardeau area in 2017. That’s not explosive growth, but it’s solid. That said, one report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated the Cape Girardeau area actually lost about 2,700 government jobs, which is just crazy. Considering there are only about 6,300 government jobs in our region, there is just no way we lost 1/3 of all those jobs with no major closures in 2017. I share this to show the challenge we face in actually tracking these numbers accurately.

So, what’s most important is that we continue to do the things that pave the way for job creation and forget about the rest. If you or your company has experienced anything preventing you from growing and adding jobs, I’d love to know about it. Reach out any time. 

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Some leaders say “what if we train our people and they leave?” Others say, “what if we don’t train our people and they stay?”

 Happy 2018 to all of you! As we enter a new year, like many, I find myself thinking about professional development. The saying about training isn’t new, but it is certainly still relevant. And there’s really no better time to think about professional development than the beginning of the year.

At the Chamber, we believe strongly in the value of training. Kim Voelker and I will be spending some time in Tucson this week at the Institute for Organizational Management. Aside from the fact that Tucson is not a bad place to be this time of year, the insights we’ve gained from this program are immeasurable.

After starting the program in January last year, we decided to work through at an accelerated rate. We will be third-year students this week and plan to graduate this summer in Madison, Wisconsin. We have met hundreds of leaders from Chambers and Associations all across the country and some from around the world.

From strategic planning to membership strategies and legal coursework, this program is the most comprehensive educational program in our industry. The classes are taught by the leading Chamber professionals from around the country, including, John Mehner, the Cape Chamber CEO, who taught courses in the past and completed the program several years ago.

As you move into 2018, don’t forget to take a step back from all of your day-to-day and think about what you and those around you can do to learn and grow this year.

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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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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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