Cape Girardeau businesses see boost from return of Southeast students
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - As Southeast Missouri State University students wrap up their first week of fall classes, area businesses are enjoying the boost that comes with those students returning to Cape Girardeau.
“The return of students to campus increases and creates this kind of buzz in the community,” said Rob Gilligan, president of Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce.
He said that buzz is good for local business.
“Our local retail shops have an opportunity to engage and develop new clients, new customers and really build relationships,” he added.
Gabrielle Ruggieri said the college crowd is a big reason he opened his downtown pizza joint, Speck, in 2022.
“For everybody downtown, it is always nice to see students from the U.S. and international students,” he said. “They know good quality pizza and they come and support us all day long.”
He said the students returning last week have already made a difference.
“It’s been a little bit better after the summer, you know, we lose about 10,000 students and then they come back to town,” he continued. “We have their parents visiting them, so it is always good for the Cape Girardeau economy.”
Over at one of the downtown boutiques, Annie Laurie’s, the owner said they love seeing students support their business year after year.
“They call us kind of their second home, so we miss them while they are gone and we are glad to have them back,” said owner Annie Ray.
And Rob Gilligan said the university’s students continue to help the town grow.
“There’s a strong economy and lots of opportunity here, and honestly those SEMO students are a critical part of that, they become part of that workforce, a part of the customer base, and really help drive the regional economy as they bring arts, entertainment, culture and sports to the area,” Gilligan added.
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