65 New Entrepreneurs Complete Operation JumpStart Training

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 27, 2011 — The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Southeast Missouri State University is pleased to announce the completion of four Operation JumpStart (OJS) small business training classes in Iron, Bollinger, Cape Girardeau and Scott Counties from which 65 individuals graduated. 

During the six week Operation JumpStart training programs, the aspiring entrepreneurs reviewed the basics of planning, marketing, legal and tax issues, and the financial management aspects of owning a business.   The training program combines the nationally-recognized curriculum called “Operation JumpStart: First Step” with certified facilitators, knowledgeable business coaches, small group exercises, weekly take-home assignments and individualized assistance with the preparation of a written feasibility plan.

“The First Step curriculum has been and continues to be a critical component of our Operation JumpStart program, which has had great success assisting micro-entrepreneurs who face many challenges,” said Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“The program was such a blessing to me,” said Kathryn Breitenstein, owner of The Long Way ‘Round in Patton, Mo.  Breitenstein is a local artist, specializing in watercolors or oils, and she renders portraits, landscapes, and animal and history paintings for commission or direct gallery purchase. The Long Way ‘Round also sells reasonably-priced, high-quality, limited edition prints, calendars and note cards. The Operation JumpStart course gave her the confidence boost that she needed to finally make her dream a reality, Breitenstein said.  Breitenstein plans to expand to offer art framing and matting services in the future.

The Operation JumpStart model consistently produces businesses that are still in operation at an astounding rate of 92 percent after two years.   This entrepreneurial training and mentoring program has been instrumental in assisting more than 625 individuals who have started or expanded more than 250 small businesses in southeast Missouri, southwest Missouri, southern Illinois and northern Tennessee, according to Gina Harper, CIE project coordinator and OJS training coordinator.

The First Step curriculum leads entrepreneurs through defining their personal vision and goals to determining whether a business concept is a feasible business opportunity. At the end of this very hands-on course material, participants will have examined their business ideas from every angle and written a feasibility plan, which will help them decide if the business is a “go” or a “no go” before making plans to launch the venture.

“Operation JumpStart will force you to look at all areas of your business plan no matter how unpleasant,” said Jon Jones, owner of Jon Jones and Sons custom instruments, who took the training in Ironton, Mo. “It’s easy to pick out the things you do well, but OJS will allow you to gain an unbiased, realistic view of your business before making costly mistakes.” 

Harper said funding for the Operation JumpStart programming was made possible through various grants received by the CIE from the Delta Regional Authority, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor.  

In addition, a valuable partner to the Center has been the East Missouri Action Agency (EMAA) organization in Park Hills, Mo.  Both EMAA and the CIE have partnered numerous times in the past several years to promote entrepreneurship in EMAA’s eight-county service region.  Since its inception in 2006, Operation JumpStart has graduated 396 individuals from the eight EMAA counties of Bollinger, Iron, Madison, Cape Girardeau, St. Francois, Washington, Perry and Ste. Genevieve. 

Keri McCrorey, executive director at EMAA in Park Hills said, “In a time of economic uncertainty, many entrepreneurs have been able to start their business because of the knowledge and support they have received through the Operation JumpStart program offered by the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.  EMAA is proud and excited to partner with and support the CIE’s efforts to increase entrepreneurial activity in our region with this program.”The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University is one of the most comprehensive entrepreneurship-focused university centers in the Midwest, offering a wide array of academic and outreach programs and services, including: innovation development and research; entrepreneurship education, training and mentorship; and business incubation and development services.  The CIE supports Southeast Missouri State University’s strategic priority to accelerating economic growth and development that improves the quality of lives, communities and businesses in southeast Missouri and the southeast region.

For more information about the CIE and the entrepreneurial support services it offers, contact (573) 651-2929 or visit www.semo.edu/cie.