I used to think that I was keeping abreast of the latest news and events happening in Sikeston concerning business and business developments. But I find that I have been badly negligent in this recently.
I just learned that the Union Pacific Railroad is planning to abandon its rail track through Sikeston, which services several industries on the east side of Sikeston. Did I miss this information in the paper and/or other news media? Maybe so. But if it was in the media, you would think that it would bring immediate activity on behalf of the City of Sikeston, the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development office.
At the present time, we have several businesses depending on the rail to move or receive products made or used in their business. While maybe they are not large users of rail, they do employ a number of people that we cannot afford to have them lose their jobs due to the company closing - and the company(s) will close without rail. Then Sikeston has several other empty industry sites - Essex and the Malone and Hyde building that we need to get some type of business in.
Does anyone believe in a minute that by pulling the rail out of Sikeston that this would aid in our getting some type of industry or manufacturing business in Sikeston? There are a great many industrial and service industry businesses still relying on rail to receive and ship. I even understand that some people are naive enough to think that those companies affected could transport their products across town to the railroad and thus be affected very little. There is a city to the north and to the west that would run a rail line into these businesses for no charge if those companies would move to their locale.
From what I understand, the Union Pacific made available in June that they were considering abandonment of the line, then officially notified the city in July 2004 of the intention to abandon the rail east of the diamond in Sikeston. This abandonment is slated for March 1, 2005.
Sikeston can ill afford to lose this track and thus lose opportunities to locate light industry or service type businesses in Sikeston. We are well on the road to becoming a bedroom community to Cape Girardeau, with a great many people buying nearly all of their groceries, clothing and other items in that community now. If we would lose even one business to the loss of this rail, that may be the end for getting the other empty buildings occupied. Plus, can we afford to lose 120-plus jobs because of this alone?
I would like to see the Standard Democrat do a follow-up on this situation. We need to get excited. It may already be too late.