Group works to restore Cairo - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Group works to restore Cairo

CAIRO, IL (KFVS) -

Since its days as a military post, Cairo has been a center of commerce and trade, but that hasn't been the case recently.

Now, a new group is working to restore Cairo to the economic force it once was.

When you're traveling through Cairo, what stands out are the empty buildings; many simply falling apart. But instead of seeing the remains of what used to be, imagine what could be.

That's the message of a firm brought in to help revitalize the small town.

The GCR firm worked to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Now it's working with the people of Cairo to draw in new business and bring new life to a town many have deserted.

At a public meeting on Thursday night, the firm presented some statistics detailing the decline of Cairo's economy.

Most people who live in Cairo, work outside the city; and many of the people who do work there commute in from elsewhere.

Folks living in Cairo say they want to preserve the historic integrity of the town, but also encourage new businesses and create job growth.

So how does that happen?

"One of the things we want to talk about it how the land can be repurposed," said project manager Dwight Norton. "That's a part of all cities history's. I mean this is an old city, not a new city. This city has been through many changes and many transformations. And this does not have to be the last one. Cities evolve and emerge and reimagine themselves constantly."

This public meeting is the first step in developing a comprehensive plan for the city detailing what the public wants to accomplish and how to reach those goals.

Experts say a revitalized Cairo wouldn't just improve conditions in that town, but also the region by drawing in more people along the corridor connecting Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri.

This is the beginning of a six-month process.

The next step comes Saturday, June 14 as volunteers canvass the city to evaluate the condition of homes, buildings and property in Cairo.

A final report is expected in October.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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