Operation Main Street: Business Success Series Coming to Cape Girardeau Downtown Businesses

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 12, 2011 — The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University (CIE) is co-sponsoring a business assessment and training project called Operation Main Street:  Business Success Series.  Developed in partnership with Old Town Cape, the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, and the “Southeast Missourian” newspaper, the Operation Main Street:  Business Success Series will begin in June.

“The multi-week program, which will be customized for Old Town Cape small businesses, will start with needs assessments, and include mystery shoppers, face-to-face classes, webinars, business and financial counseling,” said Gina Harper, CIE project coordinator and member of the Old Town Cape economic restructuring committee. 

Formed in 1999, the Old Town Cape footprint covers 130 blocks from the Mississippi River to West End Blvd and from Hwy. 74 to North Street, according to Marla Mills, executive director of Old Town Cape.

The streets of the “Old Town Cape” area are lined with various retail shops, restaurants and more.  Mills says she wants these businesses to know her organization supports them and wants to encourage their continued growth and success.

“Strengthening small businesses is part of the Old Town Cape mission,” Mills said, “and we are very pleased to partner on this program to provide some exciting new tools for business success.”

 “This series of training will be beneficial to any OTC business owner who wants to become more competitive, effective, and aware of new opportunities,” Harper said. “Program completion incentives will be provided by our partnering organizations.”

“Building customer loyalty and brand is extremely important in the changing consumer climate,” said Claire Bruce, consultant, Merchapolitan.  Bruce will conduct the needs assessments with participating local businesses. 

 “This program, coupled with other Old Town Cape opportunities like the Façade Improvement program, really give our downtown businesses the tools they need to enhance their image and strengthen their competitive advantage,” Mills said.

“With the addition of future Broadway Street renovations,” she added, “it is perfect timing to create a climate of success in our downtown.  Strengthening existing businesses now will help drive more traffic to our downtown and encourage new opportunities for the future.”

Funding for the Operation Main Street initiative is provided in part from the US Small Business Administration and the US Department of Labor.

The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Southeast Missouri State University is one of the most comprehensive entrepreneurship-focused university centers in the Midwest, offering a wide array of academic and outreach programs and services, including:  innovation development and research; entrepreneurship education, training and mentorship; and business incubation and development services.  The CIE supports Southeast Missouri State University’s strategic priority to advance the region’s economic appeal and strength by accelerating local and regional economic growth and development that improves the quality of lives, communities and businesses in southeast Missouri and the surrounding region. 

For more information about this program or the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial support services it offers, call (573) 651-2929 or visit www.semo.edu/cie.