How do you grow a community? That's a legitimate and timely question facing Sikeston. Granted, we're not alone in our quest for an expanded population. But every community focuses their actions on their own personal set of wants and needs.
Sikeston is no exception.
The assumption is that to grow our population you first need jobs to attract new residents here or to keep an out-migration from sapping the local population.
Yet the competition for new jobs is intense. Having available land is important as is having a competent workforce. In our favor, too, is the prospect of long-term lower utility rates - which have been a key ingredient for our past success in attracting jobs.
There's another less obvious and harder to define issue. Quality of life.
Now when you say quality of life, the term means different things to different people. Quality of life includes up-to-date medical facilities, a top-tier school system, entertainment and leisure time opportunities, low crime and attractive affordable neighborhoods.
Those of us who have called Sikeston home for more years than we care to count are often guilty of accepting less than we actually want because, well, this is home.
Home is like your family - you often look past the warts and primarily see the good. Why? Because it's family. And with family we sometimes accept issues and circumstances that we may not like. But we accept.
But put yourself in the place of a newcomer or a future prospect as a resident of our community. And looking through these new eyes, what do you see? And will you "accept" what you see or will you reject what we have to offer and look elsewhere?
These are questions are asked virtually every day by those who work tirelessly to expand and improve our community.
You know the background. Sikeston has steadily lost population over the past 25 years. And regardless of the reasons, no community wants to experience a declining population. So a number of local folk are addressing this issue, asking the questions and seeking the right answer.
We still have a long way to go.
The missing ingredient is an engaged population. People willing to offer suggestions and then equally willing to work toward solutions.
I have often been disappointed that city council meetings attract such a small turnout. Not that attending one council meeting will change anything, but it helps when several voices are engaged in solutions instead of leaving the heavy lifting to a few.
I am convinced that changes are coming that will improve our community and help us reach the goal of regrowing Sikeston.
But that task would be easier and more effective if more voices chimed in with suggestions and solutions.
The ball's in your court!