Cape Chamber roundtable meeting brings up region's development

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Over the past month, Cape Girardeau has been a frequent whistle stop for state officials pushing plans for statewide economic growth. Less than 24 hours after Gov. Bob Holden left town after speaking about job creation, the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce's small business council met at one of its occasional roundtable discussions to narrow the talk to local business needs.

Chamber president John Mehner led the Tuesday meeting at the Career and Technology Center, where about 30 attended. He outlined three tiers to economic development: retention and expansion of existing business; recruitment of new business; and development of the visitor and tourism markets.

Mitch Robinson, executive director of the Cape Girardeau Area Industrial Recruitment Association, spoke to the first two points while Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau head Chuck Martin talked about drawing tourism dollars.

Mehner emphasized the maintenance of a positive business climate with a strong local support system. That is why small business council member Gerri Stone came.

"I'm here to support the chamber and support small businesses," Stone said. After 30 years as a registered nurse, Stone opened Professional Fashion Uniforms, which makes professional apparel. She's been in business for 21 years in Cape Girardeau.

Seated beside Stone, Farris Nabors said he comes to these roundtables to meet other business people in the community. He owns Nabors Construction, which has operated in the city for the last 19 years.

That type of internal as well as external networking was another of Mehner's ways to improve local business climate in Cape Girardeau.

"The whole point of this roundtable was not only to let area business people know what we're doing to meet these needs, but to inform them of what they can do to help," he said.

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