Advance was a city formed in large part due to the construction of the Old Frisco Railroad in northern Stoddard County. The railroad was completed in 1884. The owner of a cotton plantation, Captain W. H. Whitwell (of Mexican War fame), dedicated 60 acres that would become the City of Advance. By 1911, Advance was a growing railroad town of 621 people with lumber and cotton as major industries.
Advance is in a predominantly rural area which has a decent supply of available labor. Advance has a fully developed industrial park with several sites that remain ready for new businesses.
The small city has its own Police Department and a volunteer fire department. The Water and Sewer systems are municipally-owned. Electricity is supplied by the SEMO Electric Cooperative. Natural gas is supplied by Ameren Missouri.
The Advance R-4 Public School district is located in the center of the community, and has an elementary school, middle school, and high school. Vocational programs are offered on the local high school campus and at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center.
Advance has four city parks with a total of 32 acres of open land, landscaped areas, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, volleyball courts, basketball courts, picnic shelters and playground areas.