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COUNT ON IT. The U.S. Census Bureau is coming to count southwest Missourians for the 2000 census. The federal agency is moving into offices in the Newberry Building on the southwest corner of Park Central Square. The building has been owned by John Morris Properties Inc. for about 12 years. Census Bureau occupancy is projected for July 1, with a lease through the end of July 2000. The 20,000-square-foot first floor will house up to 70 office personnel at its peak, according to Census Bureau officials. Up to 1,000 field employees will be supervised out of the office as they tally up the population in a 15-county area. Last time around, for the 1990 census, the bureau was located in the same space. In fact, it's the last tenant in the building that once housed Newberry's, a dime store. Nesbitt Construction Inc. is performing the remodeling of the office. Bill Nesbitt said he recalls coming to the square after class let out at Central High School and making a beeline for Newberry's.

TRAVEL MART. Great Southern Travel announced it will open a 7,000-square-foot Travel Store at 3424 S. National in August. The location will also become corporate headquarters for Great Southern Travel. Infill for the building is now under way, said Mark Norton, managing director for Great Southern. The location will be unique, with a retail luggage and travel accessory element, a theater for viewing videos on vacation destinations, a kids' travel center and a group meeting area. Norton said such stores have opened elsewhere in the country, and Great Southern decided it was time to bring the concept to Springfield. "We feel it's time people have a place to go where they can shop for vacations and enjoy it," Norton said. The Travel Store will be open 70 hours a week. Up to 50 people will work at the Travel Store. Norton said the new location will necessitate increasing staff by about 25.

MORE RIGS. Prime Inc. has bought 745 new tractors for its refrigerated divisions and 197 new tractors for its flatbed division. The purchases will result in a net gain of 331 tractors for the Springfield trucking firm. The new purchases are Freightliners. Also, Prime is adding 826 refrigerated trailers and 264 new flatbed trailers, for a net gain in its fleet of 356 trailers when the purchasing and replacement is complete.

MORE MO BANKS. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance

Company is now in the bank business. The company announced State Farm Bank, a federal savings bank, is now open for business to customers in central Illinois and St. Louis. The company's release said plans call for expansion into the remainder of Illinois and Missouri within the next two years. There will be no branch offices of State Farm Bank. Rather, business will be conducted through company agents. Internet access for customers is planned as soon as the end of this year. The bank's focus is on consumer financial products, the company said. The institution will offer deposit products, loans and ATM debit cards. Initially, checking accounts will be offered only to employees, agents and agents' staffs. The bank was chartered in November 1998 as State Farm Financial Services, FSB.

TAKE NOTE. A survey conducted for Office Team revealed that most bosses think it would be a fine idea for employees to ask them out to lunch to discuss work-related issues. Responses from 150 executives showed that 83 percent think it appropriate for an employee to ask a supervisor to go out to lunch. "As a more participatory and friendly atmosphere takes hold in the workplace, barriers to open communication and sociability seem to be gradually fading," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Employees today can feel more confident about approaching their supervisors for uninterrupted time offered during the lunch hour especially since managers are increasingly preoccupied with business demands and may appreciate the initiative taken by their staff."

SLICE OF NICE. Ozarks Rally For A Cure, a nonprofit organization, will hold its second annual golf tournament June 5 to benefit breast cancer research. All proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society's Local Angel Fund, which provides mammograms for women in southwest Missouri. The 1998 tournament raised $1,700 for the Komen Foundation and $2,800 for the Local Angel Fund. The two-woman scramble will be at Hidden Valley Links in Clever. Check-in time is 12:45 p.m. with a shotgun start at 1:30 p.m. The entry fee of $60 per person includes cart and green fees. For more information, please contact Connie Alberty at 743-2860, Scotti Siebert at 866-7231 (ext. 309) or Patty Tice at 887-8889.

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