18 Entrepreneurs Graduating from Operation Jump-Start at Southeastern Illinois College

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 18, 2008 — The Southeast Innovation Center at Southeast Missouri State University is proud to announce the graduation of 18 entrepreneurs from the Operation Jump-Start training course taught by staff at Southeastern Illinois College’s Workforce & Illinois Small Business Development Center (WISBDC) of Harrisburg, Ill. 

For six weeks, Lori Cox and Brandi Straub of the WISBDC have instructed, coached and counseled the participants in all areas of small business development. The culmination of the course material will come in late August when the 18 graduates will compete for seed capital by submitting feasibility plans of their business ventures to a Southern Illinois business committee.   The most viable business plans could be awarded up to $3,500 to be used in the start-up or expansion of their small businesses. 

The partnership between Southeast Missouri State University and Southeastern Illinois College is possible through a grant offered by the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) to expand the Operation Jump-Start business training to more DRA counties.  The DRA is providing up to $20,000 total in seed capital to the Southern Illinois region through this course and business plan competition.

“For the majority of the participants, (the start-up grant) is all that is needed to jump-start their business,” said Brandi Straub, co-instructor and business specialist at the WISBDC. “Not only was this a great opportunity for everyone involved, it will also benefit the southeastern Illinois community.”

Operation Jump-Start is a nationally-recognized, highly successful training model delivered to individuals considering starting or expanding a small business.  The program teaches participants essential business planning and preparation skills with non-academic, practical training.  The model allows individuals to compete for small start-up grants after completing training and a feasibility plan.  The Jump-Start model consistently produces businesses that are still in operation at an astounding rate of 95 percent after more than two years.   The Southeast Innovation Center has been instrumental in training more than 550 individuals who have started more than 190 small businesses.

The Delta Regional Authority works to improve life for the residents of 240 very poor counties and parishes in parts of eight states in the lower Mississippi Delta. Led by a federal co-chair appointed by the President and the governors of the eight states, the DRA fosters partnerships throughout the region as it attempts to improve the Delta economy. Southern Illinois has 16 counties that are part of the DRA in extreme southern Illinois.  Missouri has 29 counties in the southeast portion of the state.  Southeastern Illinois College is located near Harrisburg and Eldorado, Ill., and has an enrollment of approximately 5,000 full- and part-time students. The college is a public two-year comprehensive community college created in 1960 to serve all or portions of eight counties.