Letter to the Editor

Letter: Investing in schools will boost economic development

Saturday, May 23, 2020

My fellow Sikeston citizens,

I hope you and your families are doing well and staying safe during these challenging times.

I want to update you on economic development and school buildings in Sikeston. In addition to my position as mayor, I am currently the chairman of the Sikeston Area Economic Development Corporation. While we are all focused on how we survive this COVID-19 pandemic, I want to mention a few things that help us focus on the path forward.

Sikeston is making great strides in economic development. Over the past 18 months, the City of Sikeston has issued $4.9 million in permits for new commercial construction and $10 million for commercial renovations or expansion. All of our manufacturing and distribution facilities have seen growth. Your economic development team has submitted eight separate requests for proposal with potential industries, many of which have not made their final decisions. We have had two site visits from potential industries, one was just this month.

There are a few common elements to these site visits. First, they want to make sure the location fits their needs from a civil engineering perspective. We have one of the best certified, shovel ready industrial sites in Missouri. Then they will want to negotiate the value of the real estate and understand if the community is a match with their organizationís long-term vision. Then the decision makers will visit the community on their own, without our input, to see what we are not telling them.

Letís describe what we hope they see in our community. The potential industry should see businesses that are thriving, a solid medical community and hospital, a great school district and a diverse population with a good work ethic.

We score high in all categories if they drive by Wing Elementary and not Lee Hunter Elementary. As an economic development team, we have invested heavily in our efforts to grow this community to protect Sikestonís future. We will get past this current situation with COVID-19, and we need to be focused on the long-term goals.

Unfortunately, we are in a very competitive market for new industry. For us to be successful, we must have all of those things mentioned aligned. I canít stress enough the importance of investing in our schools. We must have a new Lee Hunter Elementary and C Building on the Senior High School campus.

You have a choice on June 2 to demonstrate to anyone who is watching that we invest in the safety and future of our children and community. Please vote yes on June 2, support Better Schools for Better Communities. Thank you for your consideration.

Steven H. Burch

Mayor of Sikeston