Leadership Cape Projects inspire creative thought: Some 100 projects proposed in 20 years

Many of the ideas generated throughout the past 20 years of Leadership Cape team projects have come to fruition, including the addition of a family-friendly water park which became Cape Splash.

Monday, November 4, 2019 ~ Updated 8:03 AM

What do a local baseball team, food trucks and a children's museum have in common? Each one has roots in a team project developed as part of Leadership Cape.

The seven-month-long Cape Chamber program marks 20 years of team projects in 2019.

In the program, class participants visit businesses, schools and other organizations each month to learn how their community works. From city development and education to mass media and government, participants are exposed to leaders from various industries. Some leadership theory is mixed in, but overall, the program gives up-and-comers an inside look at their community and how they can get involved.

Team projects are part of the leadership component. The 30-plus participants are put into groups with a mix of personalities and leadership styles. Five to seven individuals develop an idea and pitch it in front of the chamber's First Friday Coffee gathering.

If you talk with Cape Chamber Vice President Kim Voelker about the team projects, you'll likely hear a consistent statement: "It's about the process."

At a recent class recap meeting, participants said they were initially apprehensive about the team projects, but by the end of their project, they had learned how to work with different individuals. Those differences range from the planners who wanted to meet every week to the free-spirited folks who work best under pressure.

Groups are not required to design a project that will move forward; the chamber makes that clear. The reality, though, is that many of the groups pick an idea that could happen.

"They all want to be involved with something that is going to happen, going to take place," Voelker told B Magazine.

Many ideas from the program have been implemented in Cape Girardeau. Even if they aren't implemented, however, they give the community an idea of what people are thinking about.

What's trending?

A look at the list of Leadership Cape group projects shows 97 project ideas since 1999. Nearly 30% have some connection to downtown Cape Girardeau.

Voelker said this gravitation to the downtown area is not surprising.

"People tend to gravitate toward the downtown area," Voelker said. "They want to see a lot of activity happening that's walkable, that's safe."

Youth, teens and mentorship have come up multiple times as the focus of team projects. Voelker said another repeated theme is community and entertainment -- and particularly, family entertainment.

Team makeup plays a role in the selection of team projects, as does passion from individual group members. But for projects to be successful, Voelker said it has to be something that improves quality of life.

Some ideas might not move forward, but they can still serve as an "outlet for creativity," she said.

"I think if you take a look at the list of all the projects, the things that have actually happened or in some form happened, when we present these projects, [the City of Cape and other entities are] excited about it," Voelker said. "They attend these presentations. Or they follow up to see what things were actually presented, because especially if you're a businessperson or entrepreneur, it might be a great opportunity for you to sit in the room and say, 'That's a great idea.' And [the teams have] already done some of the leg work."

The projects that became reality

Cape Catfish

This summer, Cape Girardeau enjoyed collegiate wood bat baseball at Capaha Field, thanks to the addition of the Cape Catfish, a new team in the Prospect League.

While a minor league baseball team has been discussed numerous times over the years and presented in 2004 by a Leadership Cape group, the Catfish -- though not considered a minor league team -- didn't move forward until investor Andy Patel and banker Jim Limbaugh made the decision to give it a chance.

The Catfish manager was Steve Larkin, brother of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin. Longtime Southeast Missouri State University head baseball coach Mark Hogan was hired as the general manager, and former Southeast associate athletic director Cindy Gannon was also brought on board by the leadership team.

Thousands filled the stands, right field home run deck and grass hillside along the first base line for 30-plus home games and playoff contests. By all accounts, it was a big win for Cape Girardeau.

Food Truck Friday

Another event with its genesis in Leadership Cape is Food Truck Friday, a group project Jamie Phillips was part of in 2014. As the project and event manager at rustmedia, Phillips now spearheads the event each May in the rustmedia parking lot in downtown Cape Girardeau.

"When we presented our project in 2014, food trucks were a new concept to our area, and one of the biggest obstacles they faced was finding a place to set up," Phillips said. "Having seen similar events be successful in larger cities such as Nashville, St. Louis and Austin, our team thought, 'Why can't that happen in Cape?' Our hope was that having an organized event would help the food truck community grow while providing a family-friendly atmosphere where residents could come together and interact."

The event has become one many people in the community look forward to.

"Seeing the growth of food trucks and the camaraderie among the trucks combined with the ample space behind 325 Broadway made the creation of Food Truck Friday by rustmedia and The Scout a no brainer. We've done it four times now, and each time, the community and downtown business owners have embraced it."

Discovery Playhouse

Perhaps one of the most ambitious projects completed with ties to Leadership Cape is the Discovery Playhouse.

Brittney Lee, vice president and chief financial officer for First Missouri State Bank, was part of a 2006 team that pitched the idea of the Discovery Playhouse children's museum.

Lee said several members of her group had small children at the time and felt this was something Cape Girardeau was missing.

"[It was] kind of one of those things we had seen in other communities, and it was something we felt would be good for Cape. And obviously, it was," she said.

The Leadership Cape projects might still be most valuable in teaching group members how to interact with each other. After all, it's about "the process," as Voelker said. But there's certainly another clear advantage to this type of crowdsourcing: these group projects effectively serve as mini-innovation labs that can give Cape Girardeau, Jackson and the surrounding communities ideas for the future. That's a creative way to develop both dynamic leaders and innovative ideas.

1999DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATIONSteve TaylorRecognize efforts from the downtown merchants and others to form a Main Street program in Cape Girardeau.Today, Old Town Cape is a thriving organization, awarded the Great American Main Street Award in 2015 by Missouri Main Street Connection.
1999CITY SIGNAGEBruce LoyEvaluate the current informational and directional signage to demonstrate the benefits of improving the informational and directional signage for our city.Through the efforts of this group, the Convention & Visitors Bureau, MoDOT and the city of Cape Girardeau, there are directional signs in the city of Cape Girardeau.
1999TEEN OPPORTUNITIESCheryl MothesAssess the opportunities available to the youth in Cape Girardeau. Then develop avenues in which to implement the conclusions of the findings.The recommendations of this group were to create a Teen Advisory Board. Yet formed.
1999HUMANE SOCIETY VOLUNTEERSChris HutsonEstablish strategies and timelines for implementing a volunteer program for the Humane Society.Parts of this program were implemented shortly after the presentation.
1999NEW YEARS CELEBRATIONLoretta SchneiderIntroduce First Night in Cape, a New Year’s Eve family friendly celebration centered on the arts and entertainment. 
2000AREA VOLUNTEER CENTERClint KarnesDevelop a centralized volunteer center to provide motivated manpower.There now exists the Volunteer Intergenerational Center, better known as VIC in the City of Cape Girardeau.
2000FAMILY AQUA PLEXLaura HinkebeinDevelop an aqua plex center, to include water slides, beach entry and playground area, a lazy river, adjacent picnic and playground, and a leisure lap pool.Cape Girardeau now has Cape Splash.
2000YOUTH ACTION 2000Lowell PetersonIncrease youth programming and recreational activities, introducing a central bulletin board and a central committee to share ideas and information openly and effectively.Parts of this have been addressed to include public transportation and a citywide community calendar for all age groups.
2000YOUTH MENTORINGPaul ShortEstablish a program that emphasizes a cooperative mentorship effort with area school systems and other youth service organizations.Elements of this project are found in the Big Brothers Big Sisters and Boys & Girls Clubs of Cape Girardeau.
2000COMMUNITY CALENDARKevin EssnerDevelop an online community calendar as an event planning tool to inform our community of upcoming events.Implemented by the Southeast Missourian with semoEventscom.
2001SKATEBOARD PARKMatt HopkinsIdentify and develop a skateboard park as part of Parks and Recreation.A skateboard park is now located at Missouri Park and near Arena Park.
2001TAKE ME TO THE RIVERCheryl KlueppelIncrease signage directing people to the tourist attractions in downtown Cape Girardeau.Through the efforts of this group, the Convention & Visitors Bureau, MoDOT, and the city of Cape Girardeau, there are directional signs in the city of Cape Girardeau.
2001SPEAKERS BUREAU Develop a local Speakers Bureau for specific speakers and topics.Implemented by the Southeast Missourian.
2002LEWIS & CLARK CELEBRATIONBetty MartinSeek support for the city of Cape Girardeau being a recognized site on the anniversary of the Lewis & Clark Discovery Exploration.Accomplished during the country celebration of the Lewis & Clark Discovery Exploration tour.
2002SPORTS COMMISSIONBecka HollisEncourage a targeted approach towards recruiting youth and adult sporting events for Cape Girardeau.The Convention & Visitors Bureau, in partnership with Parks & Recreation, has developed a publication outlining all of the sports facilities and available resources. And the Convention & Visitors Bureau now attends regional sports shows to recruit sporting events.
2002CAREER & TECHNOLOGY CENTER AWARENESS CAMPAIGNMaria ChildressIncrease awareness of the available training and educational opportunities at the new Career & Technology Center.Ongoing marketing continues to promote the many resources of the Career & Technology Center.
2002EDUCATION RESOURCE WEBSITEAdam Kidd Developed for businesses at www.capeareatraining.com
2003DIVERSITY SCOUT REACHLydia DeweesIntroduce an awareness campaign to increase participation in Scouting programs among minority, low-income and hard-to-reach family groups. 
2003RIVERFRONT AMPHITHEATRETim ArbeiterDevelop a floating amphitheatre on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. 
2003RENAISSANCE COURTHOUSENancy GrandDevelop the Cape Girardeau Common Pleas Courthouse as an elegant shopping / restaurant / meeting complex. 
2003DOWNTOWN TRANSPORTATIONJeff BruneIncrease foot and bicycle traffic, and a possible trolley system, for Old Town Cape through a program called TIRE (Transportation Initiative for Riverfront Enhancement). 
2004OUTDOOR FAMILY CINEMABill ColePropose an outdoor family-friendly cinema along the riverfront, to grow a downtown community for business and culture.Outdoor movie on select days take place during the summer in Downtown Cape.
2004JUNIOR MAIN STREET PROGRAMJeff MartinDevelop a Junior Main Street Program to take a role in revitalizing downtown and to empower youth in the community to develop activities that appeal to their peers.Old Town Cape Board now includes a youth board where parts of this project are implemented.
2004RIVERFRONT JAZZ FESTIVALJosh HaynesDevelop a jazz festival. To include concerts, riverboat tours, local artists and downtown entertainment. 
2004MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALLDawn DauerAttract a Minor League baseball franchise in Cape Girardeau.The Cape Catfish had their inaugural season in 2019.
2005BARKIN' PARKAngie UmfleetProvide a park setting for dog owners to socialize and exercise their dogs off-leash in a safe environment.Dogtown opened in 2013 in Kiwanis Park and is operated by the City of Cape.
2005RECREATIONAL TRAIL DEVELOPMENTNaTika RowlesDevelop the Cape LaCroix Recreational Trail between Osage Community Center and Shawnee Park by adding benches, barbecue grills, lighting fixtures, water fountains, integrated fitness stations and more.Trail extensions have been completed and some components such as fitness stations have been implemented.
2005LIVING IT UP DOWNTOWNHeather BrooksPromote residential and investment opportunities in the downtown area that converts commercial buildings into privately-owned living spaces or condos.New apartments and condos continue.
2005DISCOVER CAPEJim DufekIntroduce a locally-produced magazine-style television show that shares stories.Several Discover Cape shows have been developed and continue.
2006GALAXY PARKTrae BertrandConstruct Galaxy Park, a place for people of all ages to view the night sky. Complete with a pavilion, telescopes and several lookout spots for viewing. 
2006HANDS-ON SCIENCE CENTERKim KelleyDevelop a hands-on science center in Cape Girardeau with funding opportunities. 
2006DISCOVERY PLAYHOUSEBrittney LeeDevelop a Discovery Playhouse - A Children’s Museum with plans for a permanent location.Completed and open for business.
2006THE GAME OF GOLFCraig BohnsackGrow a youth golf program that develops values, possibly utilizing the First Tee Program.Implemented by the Cape Girardeau Jaycees.
2007COMPLETE STREETSEllen CarlsonRetrofit and design streets better shared by motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.Several bike lanes have been added to city streets.
2007CAPE AUDIO GUIDED TOURSarah VickeryProduce audio tours of the Cape Girardeau area’s attractions in digital formats.Completed and available.
2007RIVER’S EDGE TRAIL & BICYCLE Introduce a bicycle rental program and the completion of a downtown trail.Trails almost complete. But yet to add bike rentals.
2007COMMIT TO CAPEGary Howard, Jr.Introduce a program that shares the benefits of buying locally.Ongoing.
2008FIRE ADVISORY BOARDMike RamseyDevelop a Fire Advisory Board for fire and emergency services, similar to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. 
2008SECOND CHANCESBelinda AshleyEducate employers on the benefits of hiring ex-offenders.The U.S. Probation Office continues in this endeavorwith presentations on federal bonding and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to area businesses.
2008LANDSCAPE COUNTYJason BandermannEncourage local high schools to adopt particular interchanges on I-55 for landscaping and beautification. 
2008RIVER STEAMBOAT PILOT WHEELAmanda HamConstruct a riverboat pilot wheel at the riverfront to be used as a backdrop for visitor photos. 
2009LOCATOR KIOSKNicolette BrennanGive downtown visitors signage that point them to nearby attractions.Information in parking lot at Broadway and Water Streets added.
2009DOWNTOWN RIVERBOATSarah SummersPlace a riverboat on land in the downtown area to be used as a banquet facility and offices. 
2009DOWNTOWN FARMERS MARKET  Ongoing on Saturday mornings during produce season.
2009CAPE WINE WALKCasey HertensteinFeature products of area vineyards that bring participants into shops and raise money for the Discovery Playhouse Children’s Museum. 
2009MELAINA’S MAGICAL PLAYLAND Develop a playground equipped for children with disabilities.Located at North Cape County Park.
2010MARDI GRAS DU CAPEAlan KridelbaughDevelop a Mardi Gras event that celebrates Cape Girardeau’s French heritage. 
2010CAPE JUNIOR LEADERSHIPJoyce HunterDevelop a junior leadership program that helps students prepare to become future leaders.Components implemented with Cape Chamber's "Capable" program and connectCAPE.
2010IMPROVING CAPAHA PARKJustin AlbrightDevelop an ice arena with specator seating in Capaha Park, to promote figure skating and hockey. 
2010PASSPORT CAPEAshley BeggsIntroduce a booklet with pages of local attractions, hotels and restaurants. Visitors receive a stamp when visiting each and special discounts at participating merchants. 
2011A TASTE OF THE HEARTLANDTrent SummersEstablish an annual regional, cultural, family-oriented festival in downtown Cape Girardeau.River Campus Summer Arts Festival introduced.
2011RIVER’S EDGE THEATRE AND DANCETeresa WilkeProvide a summer theatre and dance program. A cultural and artistic experience for university students and artists.River Campus Summer Arts Festival introduced.
2011CAPE FREE WIFIJordan DruryDevelop free wireless internet access to attrract businesses and recreational activities in the city.Select access provided as part of the Tech District downtown.
2011THE BEST OF CAPEKristin DanielCreate a website that shares area events with residents of Cape Girardeau. 
2011CAPE HAVENTaylor BurdinProvide comfortable and affordable lodging to patients and families seeking medical treatment in Cape Girardeau. 
2012EXPLORATION CENTERRandy KlugeDevelop a 3-in-1 family exploration center with an aquarium, IMAX theatre and exhibit hall in downtown Cape Girardeau. 
2012CITY AMPHITHEATREGarrett OzbunDevelop an Amphitheater downtown to host local musical acts, festivals, holiday celebrations, graduations, movie nights, weddings and more. 
2012RIVER CITY BOTANICAL GARDENSJulia ThompsonDevelop a botanical garden as a year-round, multi-purpose attraction for the tri-state region appealing for all ages. 
2012AQUARIUMLisa SeyerDevelop an aquarium to educate and entertain. 
2012DELAWARE DOG PARKIsaac Venable & Tina McRavenProvide a public space for off-leash dog owners.Dogtown opened in 2013 in Kiwanis Park, operated by the City of Cape.
2013FAMILY FUN CENTERStacy Lane & Jason FlohrsDevelop a year-round multipurpose outdoor pavilion for ice skating, sand volleyball and more at the Osage Center. 
2013ADOPT A SIREN PROGRAMMark StarnesIntroduce city sirens to provide alerts signals.Several sirens have been installed.
2013CAPE 20/20 RIVERFRONTRyan GibsonDevelop a boardwalk that runs from the Isle Casino to the Wall of Fame with a sports theme to recognize local athletes, both amateur and professional. 
2013SPEAKERS BUREAULucas PressonDevelop a local Speakers Bureau to introduce speakers and topics.Implemented by the Southeast Missourian.
2013RENOVATED BROADWAY THEATREAlyssa LageTo repurpose the historic Broadway Theatre on Broadway. 
2014RIVER CITY BIKE SHAREAshton PhillipsIntroduce a bike share program to the Cape community. 
2014FOOD TRUCK FRIDAYSMolly HoodIntroduce a food truck Friday with an open downtown festival feel.Implemented by the Southeast Missourian, theScout.io, and rustmedia.
2014SAFETY TOWN CAPENate SaverinoDevelop a “Safety Town” facility that instructs safety around the home and roads. 
2014HEARTLAND CO-OPNicholle HinklePromote the sale of products grown or produced within 150 mile radius of Cape Girardeau, supporting the area’s entrepreneurial efforts. 
2014VOLUNTEERS NEEDEDJeff HotopCreate a website that matches volunteers with volunteer opportunities in Southeast Missouri.RSVP/VIC is a resource for volunteer opportunities in our area.
2015MARQUETTE SYNERGY CENTERAudrey LorchUse the existing building on the Broadway Corridor as a functional makers' space. 
2015SEMOEPICENTERMason DeJarnettUse technology to attract new tech business and industry to our area.Marquette Tech District developed.
2015THE PIER GIRARDOTHeather ShortProvide an elevated event space along the river with dramatic views of the Mississippi. 
2015THURSDAY NIGHT LIVERyan DewrockIntroduce a free, family-friendly evening on the third Thursday of each month, with street closings, music, family activities and downtown merchant activities. 
2015RIVER CITY CENTERSandy HastingsDevelop the RCC, a downtown building with an expo hall, meeting rooms, glass foyer for receptions and a 500-seat theater. 
2016FARM TO TABLEAlex JacksonIntroduce a Farm to Table Fundraiser to benefit the Cape Riverfront Market. Local farms, chefs, area businesses and community members host a harvest celebration in Downtown Cape Girardeau.Old Town Cape held this event in October 2016 at the River Campus.
2016FIBER OPTICS CAPE COUNTYOla NordstromBring fiber optic service to every home and business in Cape Girardeau County. 
2016PLAY THRU CAPERyan BandermannCreate a family miniature golf course that promotes the hiddenattractions of the Cape downtown. 
2016ARC – ADULT RECREATIONTeresa KysorDevelop a state-of-the-art entertainment and recreation center for older teens and adults. 
2016HANG TIME ZIP LINESRyan ShasserreDevelop a multi-station, tree-to-tree, zip-line experience 
2017KEYS TO CAPERob WardDevelop a mentorship program that connects employers with potential employees.Cape Chamber implemented the connectCAPE job shadowing program.
2017GETTIN’ ROWDY AROUND CAPEBrad SmithIntroduce a tour of of life-sized Rowdy statues throughout the Cape community to raise funds for charities and scholarships. 
2017FUSION CULINARY CENTERAlex OgburnDevelop a culinary center where cooks of all ages and skill levels find programming that educates, entertain and enrich lives through cooking.Fudio to open Nov. 2019.
2017SOLARISJustin GreeneDevelop a rooftop space of the H&H Building for event rental and/or a unique place to have an evening drink.Top of the Marq restaurant in the Marquette building fills this need.
2017BEATS ON THE BANKKara GendronDevelop a music and arts festival in Downtown Cape Girardeau to benefit Old Town Cape.Shipyard Music Festival was established in 2018 by theScout.io, the Southeast Missourian and rustmedia.
2018ON THE GREEN Create a space for outdoor concerts, movies on the lawn, weddings and/or gatherings, plus a new farmers’ market. 
2018ROLLIN’ ON THE RIVERGreg VaughnProvide the Cape Girardeau and surrounding areas with a multi-genre, multi-age music festival. Bring people together through the arts in a family-friendly fashion to boost a sense of community and economic vitality in Cape Girardeau.Shipyard Music Festival was established in 2018 by the Southeast Missourian, theScout.io and rustmedia.
2018AGRICULTURAL INNOVATIONDennis KinkeadDevelop an agricultural center as a place where urban Midwesterners can learn how to raise their own gardens, harvest, prepare and save their own food, for people of all ages and experience. 
2018THE PLAY STATIONTaylor LawsProvide a family-friendly entertainment venue that is fun and safe.Dogwood Social House was opened in late 2018.
2018HARMONIE PARKGunnar KnudtsonDevelop a multi-use complex as a retail and event space with parklike areas that enjoys expansive views of the Mississippi River. 
2019DOWNTOWN AMBASSADORSSarah LaVentureDevelop a program that promotes a secure and welcoming environment to all residents, visitors, businesses and organizations that live, work and play in the downtown CID. 
2019SCOOTIN’ THROUGH CAPEStephen SchottImplement a smart, affordable electric scooter rental company. 
2019TOWN CENTRALBlake LingleDevelop a hub for youth resources, community, mentorship, learning and camaraderie. 
2019CAPE CULTURAL FESTIVALDarren BurgfeldDevelop a festival that celebrates cultural diversity in our community and showcases food, dance, music and art from a variety of cultural backgrounds. 
2019SHOPCAPEStephanie BlestCreate an online marketplace to encourage community retail growth in our hometown stores by delivering local shopping solutions.