Business Notebook: Publications rank SEMO State, Cairo port could be container hub

Southeast Missouri State University has again been recognized among the top 100 "best regional universities in the Midwest," according to the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Colleges" rankings for 2021.

Southeast, which was ranked 78th among the Midwest's best regional universities in 2020, improved to No. 76 in the 2021 rankings, tied with the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. Only one other Missouri public institution, Truman State University in Kirksville, is listed ahead of Southeast and Central Missouri, with a ranking of No. 7.

U.S. News & World Report also listed Southeast and Central Missouri as the 16th best public schools among Midwestern regional universities. Truman State is ranked No. 1 in that category.

In addition, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Southeast 38th among Midwestern universities for "social mobility," making it the highest-ranked Missouri public institution in that category. This category measures the success a university has in enrolling and graduating disadvantaged students who have been awarded Pell Grants.

U.S. News & World Report bases its rankings on a variety of academic quality measurements and factors such as student-faculty ratios, average federal loan debt of graduates, application requirements, tuition and financial aid policies, student body demographics and campus life.

In addition to its U.S. News & World Report rankings, Southeast announced last week it has been recognized among the best regional universities in the Midwest by The Princeton Review.

Southeast is one of 158 schools, and one of about a dozen public and private institutions in Missouri, to be named a "Best in the Midwest" school by that publication. Schools chosen by The Princeton Review for its "Best in the Midwest" listings are located in 12 states — Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Port could become hub for new style shipping containers

The new river port under construction in Cairo, Illinois, could become a national logistics and distribution hub for the rapidly-expanding intermodal container shipping industry, thanks to an agreement among the port developers, Plaquemines Port Harbor & Terminal District and American Patriot Container Transport.

The agreement, announced last week by the Alexander Cairo Port District, has the potential for making the new port along the Mississippi River on Cairo's west side "a model for 21st Century inland waterway shipping and a key logistics terminal for the newest inland waterway vessels that are larger, faster and more efficient than anything on U.S. waterways today," according to the port district.

The Alexander Cairo Port near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and the Plaquemines Port, located at mile 50-55 on the Mississippi, have both agreed to provide intermodal container-handling services for American Patriot Container Transport's next-generation container shipping vessels.

American Patriot's new vessels can transport up to 2,375 20-foot containers (TEUs), the equivalent of six trainloads of cargo or 2,375 semi-trucks, and can reportedly travel upriver three times faster than traditional inland tows, providing faster shipping times and cost savings of up to 45% compared to other options.

By maximizing cargo capacity and running on liquefied natural gas fuel, American Patriot says its vessels can reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact of shipping while decreasing rail and truck congestion and logistics costs.

Plaquemines Port, located in Louisiana near New Orleans, announced last month it is developing a state-of-the-art container terminal capable of handling up to 22,000 TEU class container vessels moving goods to and from international markets via the Gulf of Mexico. The Cairo port will serve as a link between the Midwest, the new Plaquemines terminal and global markets.

Missouri job growth slowed in August

The pace of the Missouri labor market's recovery was "essentially flat" in August, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC).

Employment, seasonally adjusted, decreased by 1,200 jobs last month compared to July levels. The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by a tenth of a percentage point from July to August.

According to MERIC, Missouri's adjusted unemployment rate has been either equal to or below the national jobless rate for 66 consecutive months. The national unemployment rate for August was 8.4% while Missouri's rate last month was 7%, compared to July's 6.9%

The estimated number of unemployed Missourians was 215,249 in August, up 3,825 from July's revised estimate of 211,424 jobless workers.

"Due to ongoing impacts of COVID-19 shutdowns, the August 2020 rate was still more than double the August 2019 rate," MERIC said in an email last week.

The rate had reached a record low of 3% starting in July 2018, before edging up a tenth of a point in November 2018 and again in December 2018. The rate, according to MERIC data, remained at 3.2% through April 2019 before decreasing a tenth of a point in May of last year.

It began a slow increase, reaching 3.4% in October where it remained for the rest of the year. The rate held steady at 3.5% in January and February before the start of the coronavirus outbreak, which caused Missouri's unemployment rate to peak at 10.2% in April.

MERIC's full report is available at

State accepting Fast Track applications

Grant applications are being accepted for Missouri's 2020-2021 Fast Track Workforce Incentive program.

Fast Track is a financial-aid program providing tuition assistance to adults age 25 or older as well as those younger than 25 who have not been enrolled in an educational program for at least two years.

Grant recipients receive financial assistance to work toward a certificate, degree or industry-recognized credential that fills a "high need skills gap" in the state.

The program was launched in August 2019 at several public colleges and universities throughout the state, with the first awards distributed in January of this year.

The Missouri General Assembly recently expanded eligibility to students enrolled at private not-for-profit colleges and universities, and in March, the state's Coordinating Board for Higher Education voted to expand the number of eligible programs for the 2020-2021 school year.

According to Zora Mulligan, Missouri's commissioner of higher education, expanding fast track to include private institutions and the addition of more high-demand program areas will create more opportunities for adult learners.

In the program's first year, the average award was $2,189. Allied health, education and computer science were among the most popular program areas among grant recipients.

Fast Track grant applications are available online through the state financial aid portal at

DRA investing in several area projects

The Delta Regional Authority last week announced an investment of nearly $540,000 in three area projects intended to boost economic development and improve quality of life for residents in Cape Girardeau and Perry counties.

The projects include a digital workforce training and employment initiative program in Cape Girardeau, replacement of an emergency communications radio tower in Jackson and upgrades to a road in Perry County.

"These investments highlight the importance of local and regional public-private partnerships in realizing the long-term success of infrastructure, business, and workforce projects to spur job growth and ultimately improve business competitiveness in the region," said DRA federal co-chairman Chris Caldwell in announcing the grants.

The Marquette Tech District Foundation in Cape Girardeau will apply $170,650 of DRA funds toward a $370,650 workforce training initiative providing software engineering training, internships and entrance into a national "rural source employment" network. The project is expected to create 24 jobs and train approximately 150 individuals.

The DRA is providing $55,442 to Cape Girardeau County to help fund demolition of an existing emergency communications tower and relocate emergency communications equipment onto an existing water tower. Total cost of the project, which is expected to improve public safety communications in Cape County, is $73,042.

Meanwhile, Perry County will use $311,080 from the DRA as part of a $390,252 project to pave and install stormwater drainage on Perry County Road 910. The road project is expected to create three new jobs while retaining 16 other positions.

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to promote and encourage economic development throughout the lower Mississippi River basin and Alabama Black Belt region. DAR invests in projects supporting infrastructure, workforce training, and business development in 252 counties and parishes in an eight-state region.

Design firm rebrands as Dille Pollard Architecture

Michael Pollard

Effective this week, Dille Traxel Architecture has rebranded itself as Dille Pollard Architecture LLC, thanks to the addition of Michael Pollard as the firm's managing partner.

Pollard was previously the firm's senior project manager and has more than 30 years in the architecture and design profession. Before joining Dille Traxel in 2014, Pollard was a principal-in-charge at a Kansas City architecture firm.

A full-service commercial architecture firm, Dille Pollard offers architectural, planning, interior design, programming and graphic services and has offices in Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

The firm's staff includes licensed architects, interior designers and consultants that bring a broad range of experience to every project.

The firm was launched in 2003 by Brett Dille and Ben Traxel. Its Cape Girardeau office is at 266 S. Mount Auburn Road.

The future home of Golden Rule Insurance Consultants, 2519 E. Jackson Blvd. in Jackson.

Insurance firm buys former BART building

Golden Rule Insurance Consultants has purchased the former BART (Bootheel Area Rapid Transit) building, 2519 E. Jackson Blvd. in Jackson.

According to Tom Kelsey of Lorimont Commercial Real Estate, the building's new owners will remodel the building over the next few months before it is occupied.

BART discontinued operations earlier this year.

SEMO schedules virtual career expo

The career services office at Southeast Missouri State University will sponsor a "virtual" career expo from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Sept. 30.

Potential employers and those seeking positions may find more information about the event through a link at

Simulcast to focus on leadership development

GlennView, in partnership with Montgomery Bank, will present a half-day leader development simulcast titled "Live2Lead" on Oct. 9 at the Montgomery Bank Conference & Training Center in Jackson.

Among program speakers will be leadership expert and bestselling author John Maxwell, FOCUS Brands president and COO Kat Cole, businessman and comedian Steve Harvey, former president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. and Boeing Commercial Airplanes Alan Mulally, and New York Times bestselling author and pastor Craig Groeschel.

Registration fee for those attending in person is $149, which includes lunch and an online personality assessment. Discounts are available for members of the Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Farmington, Poplar Bluff, Sikeston and Ste. Genevieve chambers of commerce.

For those participating online, the registration fee is $79.

To register or for additional information, visit

Shawnee College offering food sanitation course

ULLIN, Ill. — Shawnee Community College will offer a two-day course in food service sanitation next month.

The course will be held from 5 until 9 p.m. Oct. 19 and 20 at the SCC Extension Center in Anna, Illinois.

Upon successful completion of the ServSafe examination, course participants will hold food handler's certifications valid for five years.

To register or for additional information, contact an ACC adviser at (618) 634-3200, ext. 3397, or contact the college's Anna Extension Center, (618) 833-3399.

Awards & Recognitions

For the second year in a row, and in recognition of its efforts to boost economies throughout Missouri and Illinois, Ameren Corp. has secured a spot on the list of "Top Utilities in Economic Development in 2020" by Site Selection magazine.

Judged alongside energy companies across the nation, Ameren's contributions in Missouri and Illinois were evaluated on several criteria, including job growth and business expansion through competitive incentives and customer-focused programs.

The complete list of utility companies recognized by the publication may be found in the September 2020 issue of Site Selection and on This is the fifth time Ameren has earned the magazine's recognition, having previously been named to the list in 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2019.

Cape Radiation Oncology has been awarded a three-year radiation oncology accreditation following a recent review by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

The ACR is the nation's oldest and most widely accepted radiation oncology accrediting body, with more than 700 accredited sites and 30 years of accreditation experience. Its seal of accreditation represents the highest level of quality and patient safety and is awarded to facilities that meet specific practice guidelines and technical standards.

Cape Radiation Oncology is affiliated with Saint Francis Medical Center.

Saint Francis Healthcare System's inpatient rehabilitation program has been named a 2020 Guardian of Excellence Award winner by Press Ganey, a nationwide patient satisfaction and performance improvement organization.

The award recognizes top-performing health care organizations that have scored at or above the 95th percentile in terms of patient experience.

According to a statement from Press Ganey, the award reflects the Saint Francis inpatient rehabilitation program's "deep commitment to listening to the voices of their patients and our shared mission to reduce suffering and improve the safety, quality and experience of patient-centered care."

People on the Move

A pair of board-certified physicians has recently joined the Saint Francis Healthcare System's emergency department.

Anne DeLonais

Dr. Anne DeLonais received her medical degree in 1997 from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. She completed her residency at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland between 1997 and 2000.

Adam Swafford

Dr. C. Adam Swafford earned his medical degree in 1998 at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Oklahoma City, where he also completed his internship between 1998 and 2000. He completed his residency at York Hospital/Penn State University in York, Pennsylvania, in 2002.

Both DeLonais and Swafford are board certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine.

Chamber Notes

Each October, factories across Missouri open their doors to students as a way to showcase manufacturing careers, but this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is taking the annual tradition online with a "virtual" event.

The 2020 Manufacturing Day is set for 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Oct. 2 on the Missouri chamber's Facebook page and will give students an opportunity to see how products are made and learn about a variety of manufacturing occupations.

Anyone — including students, classes and individual members of the public — is welcome to log on anytime during the event and stay connected for as long as they like. The program will be broken into segments featuring a different manufacturer every 20 minutes.

Featured manufacturers will be Boeing, Emerson, Kawasaki, Koller Craft, Pfizer, Polytainers, Toyota and more.

Registration is free and teachers are encouraged to sign up and participate with their students. Students may also sign up individually.

More information and registration details are available at

The Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce will conduct a ribbon-cutting at 2 p.m. Tuesday to mark the opening of Sedona Bistro, 1812 Carondelet Drive, Suite 101, in Cape Girardeau. The new soup, sandwich and salad eatery occupies the former location of Beef 'O' Brady's.

The Cape chamber will also mark the 20th anniversary of Cape Girardeau Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri with a ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m. Thursday at the BBBS office, 1610 N. Kingshighway, Suite 305, in Cape Girardeau.

Commercial building permits

The City of Cape Girardeau Inspection Services Office has issued a commercial building permit to B.L. Harbert International LLC for the interior build out of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs new medical facility at 711 S. Mount Auburn Road. According to the permit, the project has a construction cost of $8,139,152.

A commercial building permit has been issued to Michael Pryor of Cape Girardeau to replace a storage shed for meat smoking with a new portable building at True-Que, a barbecue business at 402 Good Hope St. Construction cost is estimated at $7,000.

A commercial building permit was issued recently to Centenary United Methodist Church, 300 N. Ellis St. in Cape Girardeau for installation of a portable building on the church's parking lot at a cost of approximately $2,000.

A commercial construction permit was issued recently to Howard Kinder, 1903 N. Kingshighway, to construct a commercial-grade carport on his property in connection with his automobile business.

Business license applications

Joseph Hartley of Cape Girardeau filed a business license application earlier this month to open Studio, a haircutting and coloring salon at 1606 Independence St. in Cape Girardeau. The target opening date for the business is Oct. 20.

A business license application was filed earlier this month by Renee Flye of Cape Girardeau who plans to operate Flye's Southside Car Wash & Detail at 231 S. Ellis St. in Cape Girardeau. The business will offer vehicle hand-washing and detail service.

Murielle Gaither of Cape Girardeau has submitted a business license application to operate Venku at 627 Good Hope St. in Cape Girardeau. The business is an online marketplace that works with clients to "find and book top-rated adventures like hunting, fishing and camping from vetted hosts." The business opened Sept. 1.

Rodney Pobst of Cape Girardeau filed a business license application earlier this month to open Midtown Cape LLC at 1444 Independence St. in Cape Girardeau. The business will serve liquor by the drink and will feature video games, billiards and mechanical-bull riding. According to the application, the business will open in October.

Steven Watkins of Cape Girardeau submitted a business license application last week to operate The Forge on the upper level of a building at 509 Morgan Oak St. in Cape Girardeau. The Forge is an event venue offering a meeting space with soft drink, beer and wine sales. Watkins also filed a business license application to operate Ironman Forge, a custom cutlery and ironworks fabrication facility, on the lower level of the building at 509 Morgan Oak St.

Kalsoom Jutt of Cape Girardeau filed a business license application last week to operate in a kiosk at West Park Mall, 3049 William St. in Cape Girardeau. The business deals in gold and silver jewelry.

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