Strategic plan discussed at First Friday Coffee

Monday, May 4, 2009

Revitalization was the topic of discussion at last week's First Friday Coffee.

Old Town Cape executive director Marla Mills held another discussion on the plan to revitalize sections of downtown Cape Girardeau. Regardless of how many times such meetings are held the public never seems to tire of learning more about ambitious plans to transform the downtown into an amazing place to work, play and visit.

As part of the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri, or DREAM, Initiative instituted in late 2006 by then-governor Matt Blunt, the strategic plan calls for quite a few ambitious ideas. They include a hotel on Broadway, afarmers market, rehabilitation of existing buildings, a Southeast Missouri State University village, artists village along Fountain Street, a speciality food store, an aquarium and signage directing people to certain buildings and attractions downtown. Mills said that while she thinks a lot of the plans will happen, she admitted some may not come to fruition. She said this plan gives the community an idea to think outside the box.

"One thing that surprised us through this process is that it revealed a lot of local interest and pride in Old Town Cape," Mills told a room full of business leaders at the Show Me Center. "People are waiting for something to happen. ... This provides a vision to transform the area into something we can be even prouder of."

Among the questions raised by the audience attending the monthly Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce event was what would happen if the Mississippi River floods the area where the amphitheater is planned, which is near the wall facing the water. Mills said she doesn't have all the answers but there "are people who have the answers, and we need to bring them to the table."

If you have any ideas or input on the strategic plan, contact Old Town Cape at director@oldtowncape.org. Look for more coverage on this effort as it unfolds.

* New business buys gold and silver for cash: A business that purchases gold and silver and then coverts the commodities into cash has opened at 78 S. Plaza Way. Missouri Gold and Silver, which shares space with Checks Please, will hold a May 12 grand opening celebration with cake, punch and hot dogs.

"We weigh the gold and silver in front of customers and tell them how much money they'll get," employee Michelle Steimle told me. "We're not like the national drive-bys and others in TV commercials where you send off your jewelry and get a few bucks in return.

"We're a local company that is here to help the customer out," she said. "With gold as high as it is it makes sense to try and get the best money you can."

Owned by Grisham Debusk Management, Missouri Gold and Silver is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. The phone number is 651-0002.

* Riverside Regional Library director reflects on first month at new location: Riverside Regional Library has been open for almost a month at its new Jackson location and its director said that response has been overwhelming.

Since opening on April 6 at 1997 E. Jackson Blvd., director Nancy Howland has seen an increase in first-time requests for library cards. Anyone living in Cape Girardeau, Scott, Perry counties or any adjacent Missouri county may get a card for free.

"Patrons have generously commented on how nice they think the new building is," Howland said. "It's so much larger, lighter, spacious, with lots more seating, study tables and parking."

The interior is not quite finished, as the library is waiting on additional shelving and furniture. But Howland expects that to be complete by June.

Howland said the library collection includes thousands of books, movies, CDs and magazines. If it doesn't have a certain item in stock, Howland said another one of their other branches -- in Perryville, Altenburg, Scott City, Benton or Oran -- may have it. A courier delivers items between branches.

Riverside Regional Library's hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Starting June 1, its hours will remain the same on Saturday but will change to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"Patrons have been asking for longer evening hours for a long time and we are finally in a position to make that possible," Howland said.

* University offices move into Innovation Center: Three Southeast Missouri State University offices have moved into the Southeast Innovation Center. The Small Business Development Center and Incubator manager and training coordinator Gina Harper now share suites 301 and 302. Harper's former office on the first floor will now be able to be used as Incubator rental space. The University Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment has moved to suite 104.

When the Autism Center building opens on Washington Street, the center will move into its new facility.

"The shift in offices allowed the Innovation Center to make some needed changes in the business incubator space available to small business owners," Harper said. "It also made sense to give Connie and her future staff the room they needed to establish some necessary programs before their new building is completed."

* Training offered: Regional Counseling and Employee Assistance Services Inc., 2907 Independence St. in Cape Girardeau, is now offering on-site training for all employees. Topics include, but are not limited to, stress management, managing work, home and debt management for all employees. Also, employees testing positive for alcohol and drugs can be referred by the company for substance abuse counseling. Additional topics and cost can be acquired by calling 573-334-7667.

Regional Counseling and Employee Assistance Services is an established 16-year Cape Girardeau company that contracts with business and industry to assist employees so that attendance and productivity are increased. Helping employees cope with personal and work-related issues minimizes the effects on job performance. All counselors are Licensed Professional Counselors, Certified Employee Assistance Professionals and Substance Abuse Professionals for the Department of Transportation.

* Law firm begins construction: Some of you have asked what's going in next to Bank of Missouri at 2480 E. Main St in Jackson. As reported in my March 16 column, the law firm of Lichtenegger, Weiss & Fetterhoff is building its new office at the location. The new building will house the Jackson practice on the second floor while the first floor will have rental space for up to four tenants. Each floor is 6,500 square feet. The foundations have been poured along with the footings and steel superstructure. The next step will be paving the ground floor surface. The firm is currently at 1210 Greenway Drive and plans to relocate by the end of the year.

Business reporter Brian Blackwell may be contacted at 388-3628 or bblackwell@semissourian.com.;

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