Business Notebook: State's employment picture is 'mixed bag'; job fair set for Show Me Center

Missouri's economy, and specifically the state's employment picture, continues to be a mixed bag of good news and bad news.

The bad news is that over the last four months, more than 700,000 Missourians have filed initial claims for unemployment benefits, the vast majority of them doing so after losing their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The good news, if there is such a thing, is that the weekly pace of unemployment benefit filings appears to be slowing with "only" 17,527 new claims filed during the first week of July, according to the Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations. That was the fifth straight week of fewer than 20,000 claims and a far cry from late March and early April when the number of weekly claims peaked at more than 104,000.

The state's economy began reopening in early in May as retailers, manufacturers and other businesses across the state began rehiring employees they laid off during the first month and a half of the coronavirus outbreak.

Despite a recent increase in coronavirus cases, the state's economy has continued its gradual rebound under Gov. Mike Parson's Show Me Strong Recovery plan.

Last week, the governor announced roughly $125 million for workforce and higher education incentives to support the state's COVID-19 economic recovery.

The funding includes:

* $80 million to help Missouri's universities and colleges safely open in the fall by reimbursing them for costs associated with returning to in-person instruction and campus life. These funds will come from Missouri's share of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

* $23.6 million for the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, which is part of the CARES Act and will be allocated to public colleges and universities to support various technology, facility, personnel and services related to COVID-19.

* $10 million to support expansion of the state's remote learning infrastructure by enhancing internet connectivity throughout Missouri through the CARES Act.

* $9.7 million for job training programs to help displaced workers "skill up" and return to the workplace or train for high-demand positions in information technology.

* $1 million for to be distributed to the Missouri Office of Workforce Development and local workforce development boards for the resumption of in-person job search assistance at job centers throughout the state.

'Drive-through' hiring event planned at Show Me Center

A first ever "drive-through" job fair and hiring event is set for later this month on the parking lot of the Show Me Center on the Southeast Missouri State University campus. The event will take place from 4 until 6 p.m. July 30.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be a "no contact" event with job seekers staying in their vehicles as they receive information on job opportunities and the application processes at various participating companies.

The event is sponsored by the Cape Girardeau Job Center, the Workforce Development Board and the Career Services office at the university.

For more information, contact Becky Murphy at the Cape Girardeau Job Center, (573) 979-8851, or Debra Thompson with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act business outreach and regional training office, (573) 979-8920.

Ameren launches new COVID-19 relief fund

Ameren Missouri has introduced a new energy assistance program for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations in the state that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $500,000 assistance program, created in partnership with United Way, was announced last week and is open to qualified commercial and not-for-profit customers with 50 or fewer employees.

"We understand the hardship that many of our small businesses are facing today to keep their doors open and provide valuable goods, services and jobs in communities throughout the state," said Tara Oglesby, vice president of customer experience at Ameren Missouri.

Businesses and not-for-profit customers may apply for assistance online at Customers whose applications are approved will receive a one-time $250 bill credit.

Since March, Ameren Missouri has provided more than $5 million in energy assistance and other COVID-19 charitable contributions to support customers and communities in need.

Patton retires, Nguyen assumes dental practice

Jeffrey Patton

After many years of serving the dental needs of patients in Cape Girardeau and the surrounding area, Dr. Jeffrey Patton has announced retirement from his dental practice, effective March 27, and that his practice has been professionally assumed by Dr. Dennis Nguyen.

Dennis Nguyen

Originally from Wichita, Kansas, Nguyen received his dental degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. He and his family moved to Cape Girardeau from Joplin, Missouri, where he practiced more than four years.

He is a member of the American Dental Association, the Missouri Dental Association, Southeast Dental Society, Chicago Dental Society and the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). He currently serves as a board member of the Missouri AGD and has served in other positions with the organization, including president and vice president.

The practice, now known as Cape Girardeau Dentistry, remains at 2906 Breckenridge Drive in Cape Girardeau. The practice's staff and phone number, (573) 334-8798, remain the same.

Floral and gift shop sets grand opening

CHAFFEE, Mo. -- After postponing its grand opening several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, D Duncan Floristry & Boutique will host four days of "red carpet" opening activities starting July 29.

The opening will feature Champagne, hors d'oeuvres, local pastries, $1,000 worth of giveaways and a chance to win one of three one-year floral memberships (which D Duncan refers to as "flowerships"), each valued at $500.

The business, located at 149 W. Yoakum Ave. in Chaffee, has been open since January, but the coronavirus outbreak forced the opening celebration to be delayed.

Owners Dustin Duncan and Justin Scheper said they have been overwhelmed by the support their business has received over the past six months and the opening activities are their way of thanking the community and their customers.

According to Duncan, the boutique is a continuation of his family's business legacy in Chaffee.

"After 15 years in corporate retail, the timing was right for me to realize my own dream, one that could tap into my creative design centricity," he said. "The bonus was opening a floral design studio and boutique on the same street where my grandpa had the Chaffee Bakery/Duncan Donuts 45 years ago. To know that I'm continuing his legacy along side his work ethic that my mother passed on to me makes all of this a bittersweet and serendipitous moment."

Hours for the grand opening will be 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. July 29 to 31 and 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Aug. 1.

Both the Chaffee and Cape Girardeau chambers of commerce will officiate ribbon-cuttings during the grand opening. The Chaffee Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting will be at 11:30 a.m. July 29, while the ribbon cutting hosted by the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce is set for 10:30 a.m. July 31.

Those attending the opening activities are encouraged to wear face masks, practice social distancing and use hand sanitizer that will be provided upon entry.

More information about the business and its grand opening can be found on D Duncan's Facebook or Instagram sites, online at or by calling (573) 887-3171.

Electrician training class registration scheduled

An electrician apprenticeship class, sponsored by Independent Electrical Contractors of Southeast Missouri, will begin next month at the Cape Girardeau Career & Technical Center (CTC).

Registration for the class will take place from 3:30 until 6:30 p.m. July 22 and 23 in room 110 of the CTC.

Those interested in signing up should bring their high school or college transcripts and a $100 application fee.

Area bankers attend first board meeting

Jay Knudtson

The state's newly-formed Banking and Savings and Loan Board convened recently, marking the first time the board has met since the banking and savings and loan boards were combined earlier this year.

Harold Miles

The board includes Jay Knudtson of Cape Girardeau and Harold Miles of Advance, who were appointed to the panel earlier this year by Gov. Mike Parson.

The State Banking and Savings and Loan Board considers appeals pertaining to certain decisions made by the Missouri commissioner of finance with respect to the chartering of new banks, approval or disapproval of bank branches and the relocations of banks or branches. The board also considers proposed regulations pertaining to banks and makes recommendations related to banking laws to the Missouri General Assembly.

At the panel's first meeting, held in late June, Miles was selected to serve as board chairman.

Miles has been president and CEO of the Bank of Advance and president and director of Miles Bancshares Inc. since 1992. He has served in several capacities with the Missouri Bankers Association, including board member, treasurer and chairman. He also previously served on the American Bankers Association's Government Relations Council, the Advance School Board and has been vice president of the Stoddard County Industrial Authority.

Knudtson is executive vice president of First Missouri State Bank in Cape Girardeau and is part of the executive team that launched the bank in 2002, currently serving as the bank's chief lending officer and as a director on the bank's board. He served as Cape Girardeau's mayor from 2002 to 2010 and recently concluded his tenure as a member of the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents.

Plaza Tire gives building to Charleston schools

CHARLESTON, Mo. -- Plaza Tire Service, headquartered in Cape Girardeau, recently donated a building and land in Charleston to the Charleston School District.

The property, on South Main Street in Charleston, includes a 2,500-square-foot structure on about a half-acre. The combined value of the building and land is approximately $250,000.

Mark Rhodes, Plaza Tire president, said the school district plans to use the building as a maintenance facility for district vehicles.

"The Plaza Tire Service building donation is a welcome addition because it allows us a space to store equipment and provide maintenance on special projects," said Bobby McKenzie, the district's director of facilities and transportation.

Awards & recognitions

Alyssa Phares-Fee

Alyssa Phares-Fee, senior director of sales and strategy with Visit Cape, has earned the Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) credential from Destinations International, an association of travel and tourism professionals based in Washington, D.C.

Destinations International's CDME program prepares senior executives who want to advance their careers to blend theory with experience and application of knowledge to help industry leaders thrive in a constantly changing environment. The program focus is on vision, leadership, productivity and business strategy implementation.

"The accreditation of CDME will signify to potential planners that Visit Cape has an experienced professional taking care of them," said Visit Cape executive director Brenda Newbern. "Alyssa's accomplishment improves the marketability of Cape Girardeau and represents that she will provide the highest quality of service possible."

Chamber notes

The Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce will host a business after hours gathering from 5 until 6 p.m. Tuesday at The Canvas (BOLD), 1922 Independence St. in Cape Girardeau. Social-distancing guidelines will be practiced and face masks will be required.

Commercial building permit

The city of Cape Girardeau issued a building permit last week for construction of a Chili's restaurant at 3093 William St. on the southeast corner of William Street and South Mount Auburn Road. According to the permit, the building owner is RAD Investments Inc. of Cape Girardeau and the restaurant's contractor is Jerry Kachel Builder Inc. of Spring, Texas. The cost of construction is listed as $1,250,000.

Business license applications

Joshua Liley of Cape Girardeau has submitted a business license application to operate River's Edge Funeral and Cremation at 749 Enterprise St. in Cape Girardeau. The business has a projected opening date of Aug. 1.

Susan Stone of Cape Girardeau and Samuel Duer of Dexter, Missouri, have filed a business license application with the City of Cape Girardeau to open an office of Grace Reliant Health Services LLC at 2845 Independence St. The business, which opened in Jackson in 2012, provides caregiver services to individuals with disabilities as well as home health services throughout Southeast Missouri.

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