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On Wednesday, Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger and Southeast Missouri State University president Ken Dobbins announced at a news conference that the city would purchase about 247 acres of prime real estate to develop a business park.
The university owned the property -- once using it as a demonstration farm -- along Interstate 55 at the LaSalle Avenue and East Main Street interchange. Hoping to develop the land for technology and science-related businesses, those plans were ruined in part by the economic crash that began in 2008.
In the meantime, the industrial park land on Nash Road south of the city, once prime for industrial recruitment because of its proximity to rail and river, has been rejected by many companies. Insurance officials have balked at the land, saying the it's too at risk for flooding, even though the park is protected by levees. The city and county have lost out on several large developments as a result.
Wednesday's announcement was a positive step for the region. Cape Girardeau will have land it can market -- particularly for distribution centers, light manufacturing and technology-related businesses, Rediger said. Portions also may be ideal for retail development.
A down payment of $480,000 will be made by The Greater Cape Girardeau Benevolent Association, a group of investors that has been buying and selling property for business development since the 1960s, and previously known as the Greater Cape Development Corp.
The city will make annual payments of $460,000 for 12 years using a portion of revenue it receives from Isle Casino Cape Girardeau. The payments will amount to between 11 percent and 12 percent of the city's annual revenue from admissions fees the casino pays the state based on its projected visitor traffic.
Today's economy is about finding ways to create jobs. This announcement means there will be a much better chance for jobs to come to our region. While it is taxpayer supported, the land was purchased without a tax or bond initiative.
City, university and business leaders are to be commended for working together.