2018 Newsmakers: Jeremy Ferguson
Jeremy Ferguson says he and his wife Raelenna Ferguson began having a stirring in their hearts for people, service opportunities and community nearly a decade ago. Through overseas mission work, being foster parents and participating in other community endeavors, they began to notice racial, socioeconomic and geographic divides in their Cape Girardeau community. Jeremy says he realized he lived in the same community, went to the same parks and grocery stores and his kids went to the same schools as other people within the community, yet he didn’t really know his neighbors. He noticed, too, that many times these barriers were racially- or economically-based.
“If you don’t actually stop and talk and hear about what’s happening in the lives of people right here in our own hometown, you’re never going to hear about it,” Jeremy says.
He realized getting to know people was the key to building a stronger community, so he and his wife began envisioning a central space in Cape Girardeau where people from all backgrounds, cultures and socioeconomic statuses could cross over lines and come together to create relationships.
Over a two-and-a-half-year period, this dream has become reality. Its name is One City, at
610 Independence Street in downtown Cape Girardeau. Its mission is to build relationships through fine arts programming for kids, job training classes and community gatherings.
People in the community are already uniting over its mission: the building, formerly a Salvation Army thrift store and more recently a storage space, was sold by the owner to One City for much less than the fair market value. Multiple employers have already expressed interest in hiring people from One City’s job training classes. In addition, One City has involved people from multiple churches in Cape Girardeau on the leadership board, so the organization is not affiliated with any particular church.
During the week, Jeremy is the owner of Executive Property Management, a property management company that has grown during the past decade under Jeremy’s leadership from 50 units to more than 625 units. Jeremy says the key has been slow, steady growth and treating property owners and tenants with respect and integrity.
It is treating others with this dignity, Jeremy believes, that builds trusting relationships capable of transforming communities.
"I try to live this in all areas of my life, from raising my five kids to managing my staff, to all my clients and to all those I come in contact with through One City,” Jeremy says. “Relationships — truly getting to know people and showing up — are the keys to making Cape Girardeau better and to building a sense of unity within our own community.”