It’s often said some can’t see the forest for the trees. As a newcomer to Poplar Bluff and Southeast Missouri, the trees haven’t gotten so thick I can’t see through them.
And though I know this neck of the woods has its share of problems just like everywhere else, it was refreshing to hear someone sing our praises recently.
As Daily American Republic associate editor Donna Farley reported Tuesday on our website and in Wednesday’s newspaper, Empire Comfort Systems is constructing a nearly 140,000-square-foot facility on South 11th Street, with room to double the size of the building in the future.
On Tuesday at the Greater Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Holiday Inn, Empire Vice President of Operations Jay Eaton shared some of the reasons why his company selected Poplar Bluff.
You might be surprised.
The first was how he noticed the billboard south of Farmington on U.S. 67 proclaiming how the highway expansion to four lanes between there and Poplar Bluff was paid for by Poplar Bluff. He was impressed our city leaders and residents took such a step.
“I didn’t know how big a deal that was,” Eaton said of the expansion.
I must admit, I’ve shared with city manager Mark Massingham on occasion how such a move probably wouldn’t happen in most communities around the nation. But here, they took the attitude of “Build it and they will come” and it worked.
Eaton also was impressed with how he was treated on his visit to Poplar Bluff. He said he “booked a regular room” at the Holiday Inn, but was upgraded to a suite.
“When I walked in, I was in shock,” Eaton recalled. “I walked over and I see this mini bar and basket (full of items).”
There was also a teddy bear welcoming him to Poplar Bluff.
“It was a nice touch,” Eaton said.
He also spoke about how incredibly easy it’s been for his company to work with Poplar Bluff officials. And how eager those officials are to help them succeed.
Eaton recalled a story about when they were trying to get the new building closed in before winter so work could begin on the inside. They needed that to happen “because we were on a tight schedule,” Eaton said.
“Steve (Halter, the chamber president) was over there in the corner texting. Then 20 minutes later, here comes the city manager, building inspector and a whole troop of folks.”
I’ve been involved with many different companies looking to locate to a city. Current facilities, land, highways, a total infrastructure package is important. But nothing beats hospitality and going the extra mile to make someone feel welcome.
Eaton proved that Tuesday when he emphasized those points before he even shared the name of his company and its products.
Kudos to everyone involved. Empire could bring as many as 200 jobs to Poplar Bluff in the next five years, and that’s important. People working together and going the extra mile are what made this project happen.
Chris is the publisher for the Daily American Republic. He can be reached at email@example.com .