Chamber of Commerce will get $110,000 yearly for Magnet operation

Friday, December 21, 2012

It will take the entire staff of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce to accomplish the added responsibilities it has accepted under a new contract with the region's economic development agency, Cape Girardeau Area Magnet, said chamber president and CEO John Mehner.

Magnet, a regional economic development organization, will get more bang for its buck, according to Magnet board president and Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger.

"We went more than six months with the chamber doing the interim work with Magnet and that went very well," Rediger said.

Magnet will make quarterly payments to the chamber for a total of $110,000 annually.

The chamber will add at least one full-time position, a business development specialist, but other members of the chamber staff will be responsible for executing portions of Magnet's strategic plan.

"Yes, it's going to be a challenge; however, being able to do this from a team approach just makes a lot of sense," Mehner said. "Each member of the team has strengths and we can use those strengths in different areas. That's just really hard to do with one person."

Former Cape Girardeau Area Magnet executive director Mitch Robinson left in March, after his contract was not renewed by the board. In June, Magnet announced it was postponing its search to replace Robinson. After going through a personal interview process, the search committee and the Magnet board of directors determined the finalist candidates did not meet desired qualifications.

Of the $110,000 payment the chamber will receive, about $75,000 will be allocated for compensation and benefits for the new full-time business development specialist and, possibly, another part-time position.

"The thrust of this additional person will be to keep in closer contact with existing businesses on their issues, opportunities and what we can do to help them grow their business," Rediger said.

Mehner said he is finalizing a job description for the position and intends to fill it in January.

About $25,000 will be spent on entrepreneurial development, which most likely will be accomplished through partnerships, said Mehner, noting that entrepreneurship is an important part of local job creation.

Another $10,000 is budgeted for unanticipated expenses or needed focus areas identified later.

Magnet remains an independent 501(c)3 organization and still will have a separate budget for office operations including phone, office supplies, marketing, travel and an administrative assistant. Magnet offices are housed in the same building as the chamber.

When it comes to successful models for economic development, these efforts are typically handled either by an independent organization with a single director, by a government entity like a city or county, or by a chamber of commerce, Mehner said.

Springfield, Mo., Joplin, Mo., St. Joseph, Mo., and Saint Louis use the same model that Magnet will use.

Magnet receives funds and has representation on its board from Jackson, Scott City and Cape Girardeau, as well as Cape Girardeau County and the chamber itself.

According to a 2010 Form 990 filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the organization had revenue of $247,235 and expenses of $194,866.

More than $238,000 of the revenue was in the form of contributions and grants. Robinson, who led Magnet for 18 years, earned a salary of $89,406 in 2010.

Magnet gets about $67,000 from Cape Girardeau County and from the city of Cape Girardeau, almost $27,000 from the city of Jackson and $6,665 from the city of Scott City.

Magnet also gets $22,468 from the chamber of commerce.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

1267 N. Mount Auburn Road, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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