The country and the state may be sloshing through a recession, but the economic downtwist hasn't halted commercial growth in Cape Girardeau.
The city's building permit records show businesses undertook fewer but larger construction and renovation projects this past year.
As of last month, the city had issued 96 commercial permits for construction work totaling $32.2 million. During the same period the previous year, the city issued 165 permits for projects totaling $18.6 million.
The Cape Girardeau School District is building a new high school at a cost of $17.5 million.
Even without the new high school there are indicators of sound business growth.
The new commercial construction includes two $1 million projects -- a Best Buy consumer electronics and appliance store and a Logan's Roadhouse restaurant -- both on William Street near Saint Francis Medical Center.
Dexter Bar-B-Que is building a $500,000 restaurant at 236 S. Broadview adjacent to Applebee's restaurant.
The commercial growth doesn't surprise Dr. Bruce Domazlicky, director of the Center for Economic and Business Research at Southeast Missouri State University.
Building projects aren't decided overnight. "One of the things about investments like that, they are more long-term investments," he said.
It's not surprising that Cape Girardeau is landing new restaurants, Domazlicky said. Americans eat out even in a recession.
Bruce Vancil said the recession hasn't dissuaded him from plans to open his third Dexter Bar-B-Que restaurant. His new 7,200-square-foot restaurant is under construction and should open in March.
Vancil said Cape Girardeau benefits from being a medical and shopping center for the region.
"If any town around here is recession-resistant, it is going to be Cape. It just looks to me like there is a ton of business in that town," he said.
Drury Development, based in St. Louis, is the developer on both the Best Buy and Logan's Roadhouse projects.
Construction is under way on the 8,000-square-foot Logan's Roadhouse at 3012 William at the northwest corner of the intersection with Silver Springs Road. The 30,000-square-foot Best Buy store is being built just to the west of the new restaurant at 3026 William.
Best Buy is leasing the land and building from Drury. Logan's Roadhouse is leasing the land from Drury but will own its building.
Best Buy, based in Minneapolis, Minn., has 477 stores in 44 states, including a dozen in Missouri. The recession hasn't halted Best Buy's expansion plans.
"We are on a terrific growth spurt right now," said Connie Stelter, a company spokeswoman. Best Buy plans to open 60 stores a year through 2003.
Stelter said the company's expansion reflects the growing demand for consumer electronics products.
Logan's Roadhouse, based in Nashville, Tenn., isn't worried about the recession either.
It operates 80 company and 10 franchise restaurants in 15 states. Logan's Roadhouse, which offers peanuts to customers and encourages them to throw the shells on the floor, is opening about 15 new restaurants a year. The one in Cape Girardeau will be its first in Missouri.
* Serves barbecued ribs, sandwiches and chicken
* 236 S. Broadview, next to Applebee's
* 7,200 square feet, seating for 244
* Restaurant is under construction and should open in March.
* This will be owner Bruce Vancil's third restaurant since founding the business in 1983. The other two are in Dexter and Sikeston.
* Serves varied menu, including steak, chicken and seafood
* 3012 William at Silver Springs Road intersection
* 8,000 square feet, seating for 277
* Restaurant with bar is under construction, should open in March
* This will be the first Logan's Roadhouse in Missouri.
* Founded in 1991, Logan's Roadhouse has 80 company and 10 franchise restaurants in 15 states. CBRL Group Inc., the parent company of Cracker Barrel, bought the restaurant chain in 1999.
* Consumer electronics and appliance store
* 3026 William next to Logan's Roadhouse
* 30,000 square feet
* Construction expected to begin in the next few weeks; store should open in July or August.
* Company is the top retailer of personal computers, consumer electronics and entertainment software in the nation.
* Based in Minneapolis, Best Buy has 477 stores in 44 states.
Started as an audio component systems retailer, it became Best Buy in 1983.