How would you feel if your hometown was called the most boring city in the state?
Cape Girardeau Missouri found out this year when the website business insider published a list of the most exciting and most boring cities in every sate.
Driving across the bridge from Illinois to Cape Girardeau you see a small city nestled in the trees and bluffs on the edge of the Mississippi River.
The first right takes by SEMO’s performance arts center and then to the river front and downtown area.
It’s a cozy downtown area, the sidewalks are look relatively new, most of the buildings are occupied, and there’s a whole array of shops.
Earlier this year the website business insider created a list of the most exciting city in each state based on the metropolitan statistical area information, which is a geographical region with a high population density and has economic ties through the region.
When you compare the all the cities on the list unfortunately one will be in last place, or as business insider says, “The most boring city in the state.”
Cape Girardeau landed in that last place for Missouri and is the smallest city in Missouri on the list.
“At first we we’re a little taken back by the list, being on that list at the bottom was not where we really wanted to be.”
That’s Marla Mills; she’s the executive director for Old Town Cape.
They’re a non-profit organization whose mission is to revitalize the downtown area of Cape Girardeau that includes over 100 blocks and over 300 businesses.
“Our job is to facilitate development and to really kind of be a connector for businesses and customers and anything that can bring people and business downtown.”
So when Mills heard about the list that labeled everything she’s worked to build up as boring, she did a little research to see how this list was formed.
“They rated each community or each area on the number of businesses in 66 areas and of coarse smaller MSA’s are going to have fewer numbers of those businesses, it was also based on information from 2015.”
Mills says that the Cape Girardeau MSA area covers all of Cape Girardeau and Bollinger counties in Missouri and part of Southern Illinois.
Looking at the latest MSA map you can see the Cape Girardeau MSA area in about a 6 times smaller than the St Louis area that was ranked number one.
When you compare the populations St Louis has almost 3 million people compared to Cape Girardeau having fewer than 100,000.
“It’s a misleading list and so we really kind of made ah, I don’t want to say made a joke out of it, but really it kind of ignited the community in a defense of downtown and in defense of Cape Girardeau, so it was kind of did the opposite turning people away, it kind of brought people together to defend the community and say they didn’t believe it was a boring city.”
Just down the road form Old Town Cape’s office I ventured into Discovery Playhouse, an interactive children’s museum with 7,500 square feet spread over two floors.
Executive director Molly Willhelm grew up in the area and at first thought nothing of it.
“I kind of blew it off, like OK it’s going to be something that people are going to talk about, but I tried to blow it off as like not a serious thing.”
But then she thought about it.
“Stuff like that can be serious if it affects tourism.”
Willhelm says before people make a decision about Cape Girardeau from a list, they should come and spend a day in Cape Girardeau they might be missing something
“Now if somebody comes to Cape, they come downtown, they eat at the restaurants, they come to the different attractions that are here and they think it’s boring, great at least you tried it out, you know don’t make that assumption based on statistics of what kind of businesses we have, that’s… That’s not giving you the personal feel you know.”
Emily Middendorf also grew up in the area; she says there plenty to do if you're willing to look around.
“I think that any place can be boring if you make it boring, so you have to like make things fun, so if you sit at home all the time and you don’t do anything, nothings going to be fun, but there always like in the summer you have pools, there’s lots of places to eat, the river is a lot of fun, I love to sit at the river like every morning before work I almost always sit down by the river.”
Abby Jackson also grew up in the area also and has noticed the improvements Old Town Cape has made over the years with Mills leadership
“It’s gotten even more beautiful which I didn’t think would be possible, every once in awhile you can see people playing instruments and stuff like that, the community is really cool, like I don’t ever feel shy to be able to walk up and talk to people and everybody’s just really nice, very family oriented, I wouldn’t be ashamed to raise my family here like my mom did with me.”
Willhelm says they might be at the bottom of the list but she’s not bored at all.
“Cape has a lot of things that big cities do have like lots of attractions, but also still has that hometown like you know your neighbors type of feel.”
Mills says the city is not at all worried about its reputation form showing up on
“No we’re really not boring at all, we’re not and so again we’re taking the list for what it is, it’s just a compilation of numbers and it is comparing apple to oranges.
Not long after this list was published, Cape Girardeau found its self on another list, but this time at the opposite end.
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