Lucas Presson

Lucas Presson is the assistant publisher of the Southeast Missourian.

Quality of life, a focus for our region

Concert goers dance and watch band Dawson Hollow perform at Scout Hall. The music venue opened in 2023 and is one of the six live music venues featured in the issue of B Magazine highlighting quality of life. (Photos by Aaron Eisenhauer)

There’s a new buzzword these days among economic developers: quality of life.

What amenities does a community have that contribute to a good quality of life: education, public safety, restaurants, entertainment, parks and recreation, church community. The list goes on.

We’ve certainly seen more of an emphasis on this in recent years. What are the amenities that young professionals and families are looking for when they consider where they want to live and raise a family? There are benefits to living in a smaller community: lower cost of living, improved public safety, less traffic, deeper community ties. But folks are also looking for experiences and ways to connect.

That’s where things like live music, sporting events and recreational opportunities come into play. We dive into these topics in this edition of B Magazine, with comments from both organizers and people taking advantage of the area’s amenities.

Speaking of events, there’s a pretty big one coming up this spring. The “Great North American Eclipse” is set for Monday, April 8. It’s just the second time in seven years for a total solar eclipse to take place over our region — a rare occurrence. The totality duration of this year’s eclipse is expected to double the 2017 edition, with Southeast Missouri positioned perfectly for maximum viewing.

Many people across the world are expected to travel here for the event with several watch parties to help celebrate. We look at how local cities are celebrating the occasion and the impact on area hotels.

If the 2017 eclipse is any indication, this year’s phenomenon should be a solid economic boost for the region. A Southeast Missouri State University study on the impact of the 2017 eclipse for Cape Girardeau County noted the average travel party was 3.36 people; the average length of stay was 1.84 days; average total expenditures was $101.55 per person; the estimated value in new production was $572,015; and the estimated value in labor income was $184,600. It was also estimated between $279,872 to $406,206 was spent in the local economy.

Also worth noting are the study’s recommendations for this year’s eclipse:

Explore event options during the weekend and right after the eclipse to encourage longer stays and increase in total expenditures from tourists.

Encourage businesses to open extended hours during the weekend and on the day of the eclipse, Monday, April 8, 2024.

Explore community-wide eclipse branding with promotion beginning at least one year in advance to ensure maximum impact.

Explore hotel, restaurant and other relevant businesses “packages” for eclipse tourists to generate additional economic activity.

Don’t “scare” locals into staying home during the weekend and day out of fear of the city being too congested.

Whether it’s a special event, an ongoing concert series or somewhere in between, there are plenty of things that contribute to the quality of life in Southeast Missouri. Area leaders are sharing that message more and more. It’s not simply about entertainment, but about recruiting and retaining talent for the region’s workforce.

Lucas Presson is the publisher of B Magazine.