A few miles from the banks of the Mississippi, a little over an hour drive south of St. Louis sits the unassuming City Of Perryville, Missouri. It is a city that prides itself on its foundation in faith and small-town values. In fact, it is the birthplace of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the historic seat of the American Vincentians (Perryville actually had the first seminary west of the Mississippi). Concordia University was founded in Perryville and there are upwards of 35 small country churches throughout the county. But why is a business magazine covering a Middle-American city with the population of approximately 8,400? Simply, it’s their impressive economic development history. And the fact that, unlike most places in North America, Perryville currently has more jobs than people to fill them.

This is a credit to the collective efforts of the Perryville Development Corporation (a private corporation that owns the city’s industrial park), the City and County. The Development Corporation has, over a number of generations, forged relationships with regional, national and international corporations with a view toward making Perryville an economic hub in Missouri. For example, TG Missouri (a Tier 1 automobile supplier) employs upwards of 1,900 workers. Gilster-Mary Lee, which produces food products, employs another 1,600. Perryville also has Robinsons Construction, Earthworks, Semco, Perry County Memorial Hospital, Bank of Missouri, Roziers, Buchheit’s and a host of other small companies all owned and operated right in the city. Natural resources are abundant and the region has a thriving lumber industry, exporting product all over the world. Spotlight on Business Magazine spoke with Brent Buerck, Perryville’s City Administrator, about faith in the City’s history, economic development, tourism and the high quality of life the small Missouri city has to offer. By John Allaire T o understand the direction Perryville is headed, it’s helpful to take a step backwards and discover its foun- dations. Buerck talks about the City’s roots. “The city itself dates to about 1831 when we were incorporated. Our original settlers were actually from Germany, and the story goes that they were looking for something that reminded them of home. So the Lutherans settled from Germany in the east end of Perry County. That’s where the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod was actually founded. Concordia University also has its roots here. There is a campus in St. Louis and one in Fort Wayne, Indiana as well. That’s where Lutheran pastors go to be ordained, and it all started in Perry County in a little log cabin in a town called Altenberg.”

Around the same time and toward the middle of the county, the land was settled by Catholics who started St. Mary’s of the Barrens, which was the first Catholic seminary west of the Mississippi.

“The foundation of faith is very much a part of who we are,” Buerck explains.

“There’re Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Assembly of God churches and several smaller nondenomination- al services. It’s very much a part of our everyday life here.”

If the foundation of faith explains their roots, it is their forward-looking economic development processes and commitments that will define their future successes.



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