There is Much More to Ste. Genevieve than its Fascinating History
Strolling through the streets of Ste. Genevieve, you are bound to see someone in period costume.
The quaint and lively streets in this small town of a little less than 4,500 are full of artisans and tributes to its French Colonial heritage. It’s not a surprise that tourism is one of the biggest money makers for the area.
But, industrial development is strong, and there has been a recent push for businesses to locate to Ste. Genevieve. Parc Ste. Genevieve Business and Industrial Center is a city sponsored development initiative, that translates into opportunities for businesses developing in the area. The center is a mere 5 miles from Route 32 and Interstate 55, a transportation corridor between the major cities of Chicago and New Orleans. The proximity to St. Louis is also a plus for the town’s location.
In fact, Governor Jay Nixon announced in May that the Piva Group, an Italian manufacturer of vinyl windows, doors, and construction products, is opening its first US manufacturing facility in Ste. Genevieve. The manufacturer will be located in a 93,000-square-foot facility and is expected to be in operation in August. More than 100 new jobs are expected for the area, the governor says.
“It is rewarding to bring jobs to Missouri and specifically to Ste. Genevieve, where the workforce has demonstrated an outstanding work ethic and strong values,” Randy LaMotte, President of Piva Group North America, stated in a press release. “This facility will provide the highest levels of quality and consistency in our products and allow us to deliver the best level of service and value available to our customers.”
“Recent developments like the PIVA Window Group announcement and the relocation of ASL Pewter Foundry have provided momentum and attracted interest to our community,” says Sandra Cabot, Ste. Genevieve’s tourism and economic development coordinator.
More than Meets the Eye
Ste. Genevieve is hiding a large economic driver underneath its colonial heritage—Mining.
The largest employer in Ste. Genevieve is Mississippi Lime Company, a limestone and calcium mining company. The company is more than 100 years old. Lhoist, a Belgium company, is also a limestone and calcium mining operation. As a matter of fact, Lhoist is one of the world’s largest producers of pure grade lime. And, Holcim Cement, another top employer in Ste. Genevieve, is one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of cement and mineral components in the United States.
Ste. Genevieve’s history cannot be overlooked when considering the business climate. In the past two years, tourism expenditures in Ste. Genevieve County increased by 4 percent with 500 area jobs related to tourism, according to the Missouri Revenue Service. The business of the past is booming here, and it is a big draw for many businesses like ASL Pewter Foundry.
Making the Past Work
The Hoopers create and sell pewter products through their business ASL Pewter, and walk-in traffic is a vital aspect because of their retail shop and classes they offer.
While searching for a new location for the pewter foundry, the Hoopers visited Ste. Genevieve and fell in love with its history and inviting downtown, in addition to the friendly community, owners Thomas and Patricia Hooper say.
“People were taking pride in their properties,” Patricia says. “There is an atmosphere of people working together for the good of the community.
“There are a lot of people in the town that share a vision for Ste. Genevieve, and that excited us.”
Patricia says Ste. Genevieve’s history was a huge appeal for her and Thomas, who have been working pewter by hand for more than 20 years. The company strongly resonates with tradition and craftsmanship and Ste. Genevieve’s rich heritage seemed like a good fit.
“In ASL’s case they identified closely with our colonial and early American appeal,” Cabot says.
The couple listed off more than 10 things that made Ste. Genevieve their choice for ASL Pewter, which included low healthcare expenses, the community center, a charming and inviting downtown, TIFF incentives, historic roots, and, most important, the community as a whole.
“We are a cog in the wheel, not the only game in town,” Patricia says, adding that the encouragement from the entire county makes Ste. Genevieve the perfect fit for ASL Pewter.
“Our walk-in traffic is up even allowing for the move closure. Year to date, we are ahead. Add that to quality of life, and I’m loving it.”