Lucas Presson

Lucas Presson is the assistant publisher of the Southeast Missourian.

A look to the future with a celebration of innovative in Southeast Missouri

On the cover Every industry is evolving through technological advances, and agriculture is not an exception. On the cover, Seth Verseman of Verseman Aerial Applications operates his DJI Agras T40 drone to apply fungicide to a field of soy beans. In this issue of B Magazine, we explore how technological advances such as high-speed planters, GPS-equipped tractors, drones and other equipment have shaped the future of agriculture. (Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer)
Aaron Eisenhauer

As I’m writing this column in the third week of August, there’s a major baseball tournament being held one mile from our downtown Cape Girardeau offices.

Fourteen teams are competing in the Babe Ruth World Series for 16- to 18-year-olds at Capaha Field and Central High School. Along with squads from across the U.S. (Indiana, Alabama, Washington, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, Connecticut, Colorado as well as the Tropics and Fighting Squirrels from Southeast Missouri), there’s international clubs from China, Asia Pacific, Canada and Australia.

Longtime area baseball champion Michael Minner organized this event, which is historic for the area. It’s exposing many players and their families to Southeast Missouri and serving as a tremendous economic win for the region.

You might not think a baseball tournament is innovative. But make no mistake: This tournament is a big deal. Thousands of people attend the games, many who spend money at local restaurants and stay in local hotels. Minner and his team of organizers were certainly innovative — and quite ambitious — in bringing this world-class event here.

You need people who think big. Those who say, “What about…?” And then put a plan together to make something positive for our region happen. There are other events and developments that took similar leadership. These are important to celebrate and support.

So often people look to the major metropolitan centers of the country as places of innovation. But there’s quite a bit of that happening in our own backyard in Middle America.

Pick an industry, and you’re bound to find a story about smart people doing groundbreaking work to improve efficiencies, outcomes or both.

What’s the next big thing?

In this edition of B Magazine, we take a look at the future. As technology changes, how does our region adapt? Even more so, how are we leading?

You’ll find stories about how farmers are utilizing technology in smart ways.

There’s a story about Codefi and the 1st50K, a rural innovation program that’s helped a number of innovators move the ball down the field and connect fellow startup CEOs with other leaders in the same space, mentors and venture capital companies. And winning the competition’s prize money doesn’t hurt either.

We talk with the superintendents for two of the largest public schools in the region about what’s new and how they are leading their districts forward.

Speaking of education, there’s a review of some of the most popular and fastest growing majors at Southeast Missouri State University.

And circling back to the topic of technology, we asked people spanning a range of ages some questions about technology and its impact on their lives.

We also shine a spotlight on another community in our area. Josh Ayers, editor of the Dexter Statesman newspaper, shares some of the innovation and good happening in Dexter, Missouri, on the city’s 150th anniversary. We dive into the “why” behind the city’s nickname “Rib City” with a story on Dexter’s diverse barbecue scene. And retired Dexter resident Ronnie LeGrand shares how he became a horseshoe throwing champion.

Here’s to the innovators. The ones driving positive change. The ones willing to play ball instead of sitting on the bench.

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