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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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