Lucas Presson

Lucas Presson is the assistant publisher of the Southeast Missourian.

Despite a difficult year progress was still made in Southeast Missouri

After the year weíve been through with the COVID-19 pandemic, how do you define progress?

Most years when we publish the Progress edition of B Magazine, our thoughts go to new construction projects and areas of growth. We have had some exciting projects ó a new behavioral health hospital finished, a veterans hospital on the way, new county courthouse in Jackson and construction of the new Cape Girardeau City Hall to name a few.

But after the last year, thereís another way to think about progress.

COVID-19 numbers, which skyrocketed month after month, have plummeted. Part of this good news can be attributed to distribution of effective vaccines ó a product of Operation Warp Speed. And after phased eligability the last few months, everyone in the state of Missouri is eligible to receive the vaccine. Thatís progress.

Even as I write this in early April, there are schools around the country that continue to only teach virtually. Not in Southeast Missouri. After the spring 2020 semester where schools met only in virtual format and major events were canceled, this school year area students returned to the classroom and with minimal disruption. Online-only options were made available to students more at risk to the virus or who simply felt safer at home due to the pandemic conditions. Overall, the spread of the virus was minimal within schools. Kids stayed in school. Many who started in the virtual format began to return as the year progressed. Sports were played and events were held. At Southeast Missouri State University a hyflex model was used and, along with other precautions, contributed to the universityís successful school year. Thatís progress.

Many businesses were hit hard financially by the pandemic. And some are still in recovery mode. But overall the economy has recovered well. In fact, one of the biggest challenges now for businesses is finding employees. While the latter is nothing to dismiss, the reality that businesses are doing better as we come out of the pandemic is welcome news. Thatís progress.

This edition of B Magazine will also look at a number of non-pandemic related areas of progress. Consider these stories: the City of Cape Girardeau is streamlining processes for developers; Southeast Missouri State University is getting into the aerospace field with its professional pilot program; and we spoke with area leaders about how they define progress.

Additionally, there are stories about area businesses and nonprofit organizations and how theyíve navigated the pandemic, grown or are positioning themselves for the year ahead. Itís interesting and reflects well on the leadership in Southeast Missouri.

Yes, itís been a challenging year. But there has been progress.

Lucas Presson is publisher of B Magazine and assistant publisher of the Southeast Missourian.