BONNE TERRE, MO (KFVS) - Last week on Thursday, May 5, city leaders in Bonne Terre, Missouri were busy cutting ribbons.
They had four ribbon cuttings in just one day to celebrate the a growth in new businesses in the City of Bonne Terre.
Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce President Bill Cotton said last Thursday was a great day. But in addition to the businesses that already exist, there are many more in the construction stage in the city, as well.
"These businesses aren't all that are necessarily new but have made the commitment to stay in Bonne Terre and to do business and to continue working towards the economic growth we're looking for," Cotton said.
Cotton said the reason for this recent uptick in the development of new businesses has a lot to do with location and what the city already offers for family and tourists.
"This is from generally things going better nationwide, but other factors too," Cotton said. "We're an hour drive away from St. Louis. We're close to the Mississippi River. We're kind of centrally located in an area that had a median cost of living. The cost of living is easier here."
Bonne Terre has a population of more than 7,200 people. In the early 2000s it was just a little more than 4,000 people. In just over the last decade it has nearly doubled in size.
"As we look out the window, I'm looking at a world class tourism attraction with the Bonne Terre Mines," Cotton said. "The Space Museum is the only one of it's kind that I'm aware of."
Several business owners who had just opened up shop on Black Berry Lane all had their own reasons to commit to Bonne Terre, but they all said they are inspired for the growth the city offers for their children and the generations to come.
"What needs to be done here for the next generation to be 'I live in Bonne Terre and be proud of it,'" Cotton said. "Some of the steps we're making right now, we're going to accomplish that. Not only for my daughter's generation but for her kid's generation and on down the line."
One business, J. Higgins Plumbing and Septic Company, has been in Bonne Terre for three generations. Co-owner Laura Higgins said her husband's grandfather started the company when he traded his four-wheeler for a plumbing van.
From there, it only continued to grow.
"It was just him and one bag of tools," Higgins said. "Then we started getting more guys on and more employees and we started growing."
David Murphy, owner of Murphy Home Plans, said it's best to give people what they want here instead of traveling to other areas to get what they desire.
"There's a lot of opportunity," Murphy said. "There's a lot of new businesses in town. People have needs and they don't want to go to St. Louis to do business. They want to stay local.
As far as the tourist attractions go, there's now a shop for that, too.
Gateway to Magic Travel Store owner Stephanie Murphy said she feels that tourists are important for growth in Bonne Terre and wants to help people with their needs in visiting the town.
"Hopefully whenever people do travel to come to the mines, they'll see our sign along the highway and know that there is a travel agency here that can help them find a hotel nearby, a bed and breakfast or somewhere to keep them home away from their home," Stephanie Murphy said.
Perhaps most importantly, there is still room for more growth.
And Bonne Terre has that.
"We have all these rentals here attached to our building and we want to grow that and help Bonne Terre grow," Higgins said.
"There's a lot of room for growth and a lot of areas of town where there are spaces for rent," Murphy said. "Anyone can make their dreams come true."
Some of the upcoming businesses will help the people of Bonne Terre in other ways.
"The new Bonne Terre Senior Center, that grand opening is to be held this month," Cotton said. "That is an excellent facility which will be a great asset to our city and to our seniors."
Other projects include renovations at the Bonne Terre Airport, an orchard development, renovations to the Bonne Terre drag strip and renovations to the industrial park as well.
Cotton said he feels they have come a long way in rebuilding investment since the town's mining says.
"Back in the sixties, 90 percent of the people worked in the mines," Cotton said. "And they went home on a Thursday and they locked the doors behind them. And overnight, we had 90 percent of unemployment here in Bonne Terre. It takes a long time to recover from that."
Cotton said they have made a lot of progress since that time and have recovered since then.
"There's a lot of people that devote a lot of amount of time to help the environment here grow and be plentiful," Cotton said. "It means a lot to kind of take a step back and look and see that your hard work is paying off."