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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Right to Work Resources

Missouri Proposition A, the Right to Work Referendum, is on the ballot in Missouri as a veto referendum on August 7, 2018.

A "yes" vote is to uphold the contested legislation, Senate Bill 19, which would enact a right-to-work law to mandate that no person can be required to pay dues to a labor union or join a labor union as a condition of employment.

A "no" vote is to overturn the contested legislation, Senate Bill 19, which would enact a right-to-work law to mandate that no person can be required to pay dues to a labor union or join a labor union as a condition of employment.


To learn more about Right to Work, visit the following resources:


The Cape Chamber Board of Directors has taken a position in support of Prop A and encourages you to cast your vote on August 7.

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The Cape Chamber is pleased to announce the successful completion of the 29th year of the Leadership Cape program – an innovative 7-month program that exposes participants to the opportunities, realities and challenges of our community, while creating opportunities for professional growth.

Leadership Cape is a program led by the Cape Chamber, designed to identify and motivate emerging leaders, and to develop their potential for community leadership roles by exposing them to opportunities, realities and challenges of our area. Individuals who have a genuine interest in leadership, who desire to increase their own levels of involvement, and who wish to broaden their knowledge are encouraged to participate in Leadership Cape.

Class participants develop rapport with key community leaders, leading to long-term essential relationships. Those who participate in a leadership program such as Leadership Cape, benefit from the camaraderie developed among classmates, personal growth from session content, expanded knowledge of community structure, and an understanding of the importance of community involvement.

Kim Voelker, Cape Chamber Vice President, serves as the staff liaison for the Leadership Development committee at the Chamber. Voelker works closely with the committee to plan and execute the monthly classes.

“I have the pleasure of interacting with the participants and getting to know them on a more personal level,” says Voelker, “and that makes it very interesting!”

Leadership Cape Girardeau Class of 2018 graduates include:

Ms. Katherine Amrhein
Southeast Missouri State University

Lt. Rodney Barker
Cape Girardeau Police Department

Ms. Tiffany Barr
Ray’s Banquet Center

Ms. Erica Bogenpohl
Alliance Water Resources

Ms. Gayle Conrad
City of Cape Girardeau

Mr. Brandon Cooper
Moss & Cooper

Mr. Richard Crowley

Ms. Tammy Deimund
Saint Francis Health Care

Mr. Calvin Garner
Community Caring Council

Mr. Zachery Gendron
The Bank of Missouri

Ms. Amanda Geske
Banterra Bank

Ms. Patricia Harrell
Montgomery Bank

Mr. Dennis Kinkead
Southeast Missouri State University

Mr. Gunnar Knudtson
First Missouri State Bank

Ms. Taylor Laws
Cape Chamber

Pastor Jacob May
Christ Lutheran Church

Ms. Samantha Mlot
Old Town Cape

Mr. Todd Obergoenner
W. E. Walker-Lakenan

Ms. Katie Palisch
Realty Executives of Cape County

Ms. Debbie Pensel
First Midwest

Mr. Bruce Pfeifer
Drury Southwest, Inc.

Ms. Whitney Quick
Better Business Bureau

Mr. Larry Rhodes
Commerce Bank

Mr. John Ryan
Spencer Fane LLP

Ms. Mary Schabbing
Saint Francis Healthcare

Mr. Michael Siebert
Coalter Insurance Group

Mr. Greg Vaughn
Media Leaf, LLC

Mr. Mike Warren
Main Street Signs

Ms. Rinda Wiseman

Applications for the 2019 Leadership Cape class will become available at a later date. If you would like to receive notification of the opening of applications, contact Kim Voelker at


For more information about the Cape Chamber or the Leadership Cape program, visit

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Location, location, location – the phrase is paramount in real estate AND in economic development.

The state of Missouri is in a great geographic position with its location in the center of the United States. This should be a huge advantage in economic development. We are rich in many transportation resources including rivers, rail, highways, airports, and river ports. However, our transportation infrastructure is struggling.

Within 500 miles of the state of Missouri is 43% of the U.S. population, 41% of buying power, and 44% of both wholesale trade and manufacturing plants. However, our infrastructure is deteriorating and, in many places, unsafe. We have the seventh largest transportation system but we are only 46th in revenue per mile. We have the fourth lowest gas and diesel taxes in the nation and they haven’t been raised in decades.

But in November, we have a chance to change all that. Missouri voters will be asked to approve a 2.5% gas tax increase for four consecutive years resulting in approximately $410 million each year for transportation in Missouri. Of that, $288 million would go to fund the Missouri Highway patrol and $122 million would go directly toward local transportation projects. The Highway Patrol funding frees up more of the State Road Fund for much needed statewide projects.

This is a responsible way to finally address our need for additional transportation funding. Please remember to vote in November.
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Over the past 18 months, there have been several notable expansions from our existing businesses. These include an almost completed 60,000 square foot manufacturing facility in the Greater Cape Girardeau Business Park by Idyllic Enterprises and SI03, 30 – 35 new jobs at Schafer’s Electrical Enclosures, 150 new jobs from AT&T, and numerous hospitality and restaurant projects. Even several of our new businesses are results of working with existing developers.

Statistics show even though start-up companies and new businesses are gaining in overall job creation, 60 – 70% of new jobs still come from existing business. The Chamber conducts a BRE (business retention and expansion) program continually. This is accomplished through meetings with existing business representatives both formally and informally. We gather information on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of both the area and the company. Armed with this information, we can address issues and advocate on behalf of our business partners resulting in reduced impediments to growth and leading to more stability in our business base and, ultimately, more investment and jobs.

Keep in mind, a complete economic development plan still includes efforts to recruit new business and industry and support an entrepreneurial climate conducive to start-up ventures. But let there be no doubt, growth from our existing business base is critical to success.
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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