Business park offers more economic development opportunities

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The city of Cape Girardeau reached final agreement in December to purchase 247 acres of land along both sides of LaSalle Avenue. This land was purchased for $6 million from the Southeast Missouri State University Foundation.

An initial down payment will be made to the foundation and the balance will be paid through 12 equal annual payments. These payments will come from 11 to 12 percent of our annual projected casino funds and will not require any new taxes or money from the city's general revenue budget.

This purchase is a win-win for Cape Girardeau and Southeast Missouri State University. The funds will remain in our community and provide several million dollars in endowed scholarships to future agricultural students at Southeast. It will give our city and area a great economic development tool as we work to attract business and jobs to our area.

The proposed use for this acreage, as stated above, is the development of a business park to create jobs for the area. The city of Cape Girardeau, Cape Area Chamber of Commerce and Magnet have been searching for the best potential site for a business park for several years. We envision this site to attract smaller businesses on the south side of LaSalle and larger distribution-center-type businesses and major employers to occupy the north side of LaSalle.

Frontage property along LaSalle should attract smaller retail and service type prospects. We don't anticipate any "smokestack-type" heavy industry, as there is no access to either rail or barge. We will concentrate those efforts along the Nash Road and SEMO Port areas.

The balance of industrial acreage along Nash Road was sold last year as farm ground. This sale was made necessary when throughout the years we lost prospect after prospect because of the floodplain issue and the Diversion Channel levee just north of Nash Road. The Nash Road Industrial Park has been very successful in past decades, attracting outstanding industries and providing many hundreds of jobs. It just became evident that any future major development would need to be located elsewhere along the interstate.

We are anxious to begin marketing this land to potential prospects. This area has great potential with completed interstate access and also completed streets of LaSalle and Veterans Memorial Drive. Soon we will be working on the balance of needed infrastructure such as water, sewer, electric and gas. These utilities are available near this property but not yet on the property.

Stay tuned for future developments during 2013 and beyond.

An added thought about our new Broadway streetscape:

It was rewarding to witness the initiative of Broadway merchants who put their own individual touch to lighting the new trees along Broadway during the holiday season. I even noticed a mannequin placed on one of the new benches.

Thanks, merchants, for "thinking outside the box" as we all seek to make our new Broadway a destination for citizens and visitors.

Harry E. Rediger is the mayor of Cape Girardeau.

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