The City of Perryville is known for its economic health, especially considering their rural location. Generally full employment is considered to be around 5%, and the unemployment rate there is around 3%. Many companies are headquartered in the city, and many people work there. But there aren’t a lot of places for them to live within city limits, especially homes that would work for a single family. During the day, the population increases by around 40 percent, which indicates that people are probably making a hefty commute to get to work. I spoke with Brent Buerck, Perryville’s city administrator about this issue and what they’re doing to make that day-to-night time population difference level out.
Buerck: The economic indicators in Perryville are really excellent - among some of the best in the state. You know, we’re growing in terms of jobs and population, and not every county in the state can say that. In fact, a large number of rural counties cannot. We’re seeing that trend here; we have several employers who need employees. We’re in the blessed position of having more jobs than people, and one of the things we’ve been asked as a community to try to do is stimulate housing growth. So we’re looking to put together a plan that would do just that.
Lindsey: And who are you looking to work with on this?
I’m working with the Economic Development Authority, the city council, the Perryville Development Corporation, the County of Perry, and realtors. We’ve met with several different groups already, and we plan on hosting a developer’s luncheon, so to speak, in the near future to kind of lay out our ideas on a path forward.
So, with a growth in job development and not enough housing to accompany that, people are having to come in from surrounding areas to work. Could you elaborate on that issue?
Yeah, we’ve had, in recent years, some great expansions. A lot of TG’s jobs require engineering degrees, certainly college education, and Robinson Construction’s the same way. The Bank of Missouri is headquartered here now, and with their new expansion, they’re pushing 30 bank locations statewide. And they’re headquartered in Perryville. Citizen’s Electric is headquartered here in Perryville. So there’s a lot of really exciting jobs that require degrees and certain types of experience. And what’s happening is, often when folks are coming in, they’re not able to find housing associated with their needs, and so they’ll move their family to southeast Missouri. But they find themselves living in Farmington, Jackson, Cape Girardeau initially, or Ste. Genevieve. You don’t uproot twice. So our thought is if we could increase our housing stock, a lot of these people would be able to actually buy homes here in Perryville where they’re actually working.
And what might the city’s assistance look like?
We’re proposing to extend water and sewer mains to the property lines of a subdivision development, and then natural gas service all the way to each individual house. We think that’ll help make the numbers a little more attractive to get started, and we’re looking for partners that want to build houses.
Okay. And also, Perry County has a lot of farmland. Do you see any potential problems in terms of building on that farmland?
Yeah, I see this as very different in the farmland. We have some of the best farm property in the Midwest, if not the country in the bottoms, and Perryville is not in the bottoms. The properties that we’re talking about are located in the city limits of Perryville, and I’ve had multiple people contact me with 20, 30 and 40 acre tracts, and saying, ‘Hey, if you find a developer, we have property to sell.’ So I think it’s going to be closer to city limits; it’s going to be in Perryville or immediately adjacent to Perryville, and I think it’s going to really help with our housing stock.
I think that’s all I need. I appreciate it.
Have a great day.