Cape Chamber of Commerce hosts Regional Advocacy Meeting

Leaders from across the region met today in Cape Girardeau to band together and have a bigger voice to advocate for people across Southeast Missouri
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 4:18 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2023 at 6:19 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Leaders from across the region met today in Cape Girardeau to advocate for people across southeast Missouri, using their collective voice.

The Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce hosted more than forty people for what they called ‘an advocacy conversation.’ Their goal is to identify issues in the region as a whole to hopefully make change at the state level.

“You have a bigger voice if you act as a region as opposed to individual communities trying to speak for themselves,” Dave Soto said.

Soto is the President of SOTO Property Solutions. He’s also one of the leaders that took part in conversations on the Rural Development Committee. One of their main takeaways is defining what rural means.

“All of southeast Missouri is really rural if you compare it to St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield,” Soto said.

Marcie Lawson is the Sikeston Regional Chamber President. Her committee spent the morning discussing economic development.

“We’ve got these challenges, we’ve got these challenges, but collaboratively our challenges are probably very similar,” Lawson said. “Communities who are wanting to grow, wanting to bring jobs, but we don’t always have the funding to have the huge, mega sites.”

Other topics included transportation, where leaders decided the region needs better access to transit services.

The healthcare committee discussed labor shortages, specifically in their industry.

Education leaders talked about underfunding across the region.

And almost every group hit on a lack of childcare options.

“It’s really important that we kind of get out of just what we’re focused on and see what is going on in the entire region,” Lawson said.

After talking through these thoughts and ideas together, the leaders want to speak to their communities.

“Bringing those to the different communities, saying yes or no--these are what we want to focus on, and then taking those to our legislators,” Lawson said.

And they hope by creating this bigger voice, legislators across the state will understand how their votes impact southeast Missouri.

“We need to make sure that we’re still recognized and that we do get some legislative action that takes care of our issues,” Soto said.