With the recent decision to bring the annual Fourth of July fireworks display back to downtown Cape Girardeau, we thought it a pertinent time to discuss the beneficial impacts that events such as this have on the downtown area.
The list of events taking place downtown during a given period is lofty, and includes the fireworks display, Tunes at Twilight, First Friday, Parade of Lights, and The River Tales Classic Car Show…among many others. These events have the capacity to draw thousands of people (local and regional) into the Old Town Cape area that might not have otherwise visited. When combined with the areas multitude of retail, dining, and entertainment options, it’s an obvious winning situation for downtown merchants of every variety.
A recent study conducted by The Maine Center for Economic Policy examined a cities’ economic impacts when comparing local versus chain stores. The city of Portland, ME that was chosen has a population of just over sixty-six thousand people, which is comparable in nature to the Cape Girardeau and Jackson regional area. They analyzed data collected from 28 locally owned retail businesses, along with corporate filings for a representative national chain. The researchers found,
“That every $100 spent at locally owned businesses contributes an additional $58 to the local economy. By comparison, $100 spent at a chain store in Portland yields just $33 in local economic impact.”
The study concluded,
“That if residents of the region were to shift 10 percent of their spending from chains to locally owned businesses, it would generate $127 million in additional local economic activity and 874 new jobs.<”
Cape Girardeau is obviously not Portland, ME, but even if we were to assume a fraction of the benefits they found, we can come to the conclusion that local spending and events are a winning combination for Cape Girardeau. This is why we as downtown merchants, of every variety, should feel the need to champion events such as our recent fireworks display, while also applauding those who chose to patronize local retailers while in attendance. Of utmost importance though, is to come to realization that events such as these can come to a close at a moment’s notice without support from the local community. We don’t like to imagine a downtown free from the sounds of an acoustic guitar at Tunes at Twilight, the uproar of a hot rod revving its engine during the car shows, or seeing the first set of Christmas lights parading down Broadway. We certainly hope that everyone in our area feels the same!