What will happen on the local business scene in 2004?
A few local business leaders offered me some predictions last week, on subjects ranging from new retail developments to the state of the economy.
Take them for what they're worth -- which is a whole lot more than if they were coming from me. (In the past, I invested in Enron and WorldCom and once predicted that Sears would move to the mall. No Nostradamus, I.)
Jackson Chamber of Commerce executive director Ken Parrett said to expect more growth in the already prosperous Jackson business climate.
He said a "large retail store" has recently committed to coming to Jackson and an industrial interest is expressing strong interest. Expect announcements in 2004. (He wouldn't name either yet.)
John Mehner, Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said to expect noticeable additions to the retail landscape and other positive announcements for Cape Girardeau. He also declined to be specific. (These chamber chiefs sure are coy.)
Jay Knudtson, Cape Girardeau's mayor and a local banker, said that he believes Saddam Hussein's capture will have as much to do with affecting the future as anything, with its effect on the war and diminishing uncertainty at home.
"The only thing that would rival it is Osama bin Laden in a body bag, and I think that will occur," he said. "2004 could be a banner year, certainly for CG, and most likely for the nation."
He also promised that people can expect to hear more of those radio spots featuring him and Steve "Fuzzy" Taylor. I predict an ADDY for those First Missouri State Bank spots.
Kevin Cantwell, president of Big River Telephone, said he sees an upswing in business in 2004.
"Being a telephone company, we're a good barometer," he said. "If you see an increase in usage of the phones, usually indicates an uptick in the economy."
Kathy Swan, one of the owners of JCS-Tel-Link, said she also predicts the economy to continue its rebound.
"The economy is juggling all these balls," she said. "The war in Iraq, mad cow disease, the political scene and terror alerts. The economy is such a complex animal. Now we're adding in other factors. But I think we'll survive all that and the economy will be better."
Bill Dunn, president of the Downtown Merchants Association in Cape Girardeau, said new businesses will be coming to the downtown in 2004.
"We're losing some of the old businesses, but that makes way for new blood," he said.
Catherine Dunlap, executive director of Old Town Cape, said downtown's excitement in 2003 will roll over into the new year with the opening of the renovated Marquette Hotel.
"When I got here, demolition hearings were taking place," she said. "Who would have thought?"
News and notes
The K-9 Training Center has moved from Jackson to Cape Girardeau at 423 N. Broadview.
"We needed more space," said Larry Stone, who owns the boarding and training facility for dogs. "I couldn't find what I needed, and I was able to find it here, so we moved. We found a facility that suited us pretty well."
Pop's Pizza has changed hands -- sort of. Cora and Doyle Sample have taken over the pizza buffet at 409 N. Clark from Eric Lambert.
The Landing Place at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport is open. A self-described tough food critic said that the new airport restaurant's food is really good.
Scott Moyers is the business editor of the Southeast Missourian.