Business Notebook: Anniversary of an American classic, new businesses and programs to help look to the future

As a kid growing up in Chester, Illinois, nothing was more refreshing on a hot summer day than a root beer float. When I was in high school in the late '60s and early '70s, I remember family trips to Cape Girardeau and stopping at what I considered to be the mecca of root beer, Popp's A&W Drive-In on North Kingshighway. A&W, after all, was home of THE best root beer in my opinion and Popp's was the place to get it.

Those memories came to mind when I read an item on the internet about the 100th anniversary of A&W restaurants. According to the online story, it was June 20, 1919, in the northern California town of Lodi where an entrepreneur named Roy Allen served the first frosty mug of A&W at a stand during a parade honoring World War I veterans. His secret recipe of herbs, bark, spices and berries was a hit and a 10-ounce mug of the concoction sold for a nickel.

Popp's A&W Drive-In is gone, but A&W still has a presence in Cape Girardeau, combined with the Long John Silver's at 25 S. Kingshighway.

Speaking of restaurants, there's a new one coming to West Park Mall in a few weeks. My Marie Restaurant will offer a "Caribbean Creole soul food" lunch buffet in a space once occupied by Pasta House Co. and Tandoor Indian Grill & Bar. The restaurant's targeted opening date in July 26. I'll have more details in the weeks ahead.

Also in the weeks ahead, watch for the opening of a new Hallmark store in the Town Plaza Shopping Center. Dana Grace expects to open the new Hallmark outlet later this summer where Carol's Hallmark Store was before it closed earlier this year. Watch for more details in the Southeast Missourian's business pages in the coming weeks.

Before you read the rest of this week's business column, I should pass along this "full disclosure" that Kathleen Wolz is my wife ...

Program looks at Generation Z

The Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce will host a free program later this week about the skills, habits and needs of the latest generation in the workplace, "Generation Z." Guest speaker will be Chelsea McNeely, director of online programs at Southeast Missouri State University.

The program will be from 8 to 9 a.m. Thursday at the Jackson Civic Center and is part of the chamber's Business Leadership Series sponsored by The Bank of Missouri. Breakfast will be provided. Register by contacting the chamber at (573) 243-8131 or at

Southeast to host LaunchU business startup training

The Economic and Business Engagement Center at Southeast Missouri State University will host a LaunchU class this summer for aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs.

Enrollment is now open for the next class, sponsored by EboMD, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays from June 28 to July 19 at the Economic and Business Engagement Center, 920 Broadway in Cape Girardeau.

The class is a hands-on program that coaches entrepreneurs through the business planning process to determine business feasibility, including the actual development of a professional, Small Business Administration-approved business plan, pitch and financial forecast.

"Participants will learn strategies from our facilitators and guest speakers, talk with like-minded individuals to explore their business ideas and have a business plan ready to present for potential lenders or investors," Jakob Pallesen, director of Southeast's Small Business and Technology Development Center, said in a news release.

At the end of the course, class participants will compete, presenting a pitch before a judging panel comprised of local business professionals. EboMD is providing $500 in cash prizes to the top pitch competition winners.

For more information about the class and how to register, call (573) 986-6879.

People on the Move

Greg Luehmann

Greg J. Luehmann has been named vice president of MRV Banks and will work in the Cape Girardeau and Sikeston, Missouri, markets.

Luehmann comes to MRV Banks with more than 35 years of banking experience and 20 years of experience as a former bank president. He also spent three years on the Regulatory Affairs Committee for the Missouri Bankers Association including a year as chairman.

"I've known Greg for many years and because of that I'm already familiar with his impressive banking resume," Doug Watson, president and CEO of MRV Banks, said in a news release. "Greg spent years working at banks throughout Missouri before taking over a troubled bank in our state and through his guidance he was able to turn it into one of the most profitable banks in the country. The bank increased its shareholder value significantly during that time. I have no doubt he will be an excellent fit for MRV Banks."

Meagan Ward

Meagan Ward has joined SouthastHEALTH as an advanced practice registered nurse in collaboration with Dr. Chelsea Grigery, a SoutheastHEALTH pediatrician at Southeast's Sikeston clinic.

SoutheastHEALTH chief operating officer Maria Sudak said the new clinic location is "convenient to the growing number of First Option clients in the Sikeston area" and explained in a news release First Option "is a health plan established by SoutheastHEALTH to provide self-insured employers of all sizes a cost savings health benefit solution."

Ward holds a Master of Science in nursing and received her family nurse practitioner training at Walden University in Minneapolis. She has 18 years of experience in pediatric nursing and 10 years of experience working as a newborn nurse. She holds SAFE-CARE provider certification through Missouri KidsFirst, a program that maintains a coordinated medical response to child abuse and neglect in Missouri. She has been trained by board certified child abuse pediatricians and can perform forensic evaluations and comprehensive medical care for children who may have suffered physical or sexual abuse.

Her professional affiliations include the International Association of Forensic Nurses, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and Advanced Practice Nurses of the Ozarks.

Awards and recognitions

Southeast Hospital has received the American Heart Association's "Get With the Guidelines" Heart Failure Silver-Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award is in recognition of the hospital's efforts to assure heart failure patients receive the most appropriate treatment based on the latest Heart Association recommendations.

According to information supplied by the hospital, Southeast earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure patients. These measures include evaluation of the proper use of medications and aggressive risk-reduction therapies as well as pre-discharge patient education.

"Patient care is our number one priority and SoutheastHEALTH is dedicated to improving the quality of care for our patients with heart failure by implementing the American Heart Association's 'Get With the Guidelines' initiatives," SoutheastHEALTH president and CEO Ken Bateman said in a news release.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 6.5 million adults in the United States are living with heart failure. The association says many heart failure patients can lead full, enjoyable lives when their conditions are managed using best-practice guidelines.

Vast Broadband, headquartered in Sikeston, Missouri, has been named 2019 Independent Operator of the Year by Cablefax Magazine. The company provides broadband internet, television, telephone and "smart home" services to residential and business customers in parts of South Dakota and Southwest Minnesota.

The award was presented earlier this month in New York.

"It is a great honor to be named Independent Operator of the Year," Jim Gleason, Vast Broadband's CEO, said in a news release. "It's an award that every employee at Vast has earned through their relentless commitment to provide the best products and services across our markets."

The annual award recognizes a National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) and America's Communications Association (ACA) member company whose operating excellence has made a difference for its business and residential customers over the past year.

Kathleen Wolz

Kathleen A. Wolz, a partner in the Cape Girardeau law firm of Cook, Barkett, Ponder & Wolz, 1610 N. Kingshighway, was elected last week to serve as president of the 32nd Judicial Circuit Bar Association, consisting of lawyers in Cape Girardeau, Bollinger and Perry counties. She was also elected last week to a two-year term on the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys during the MATA annual conference held at the Lodge of the Four Seasons at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Wolz is a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University and attended the School of Law at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. She is licensed to practice in Missouri and Illinois.

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