Accelerating Entrepreneurship in the Delta Grant Winners Announced

cie2CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 5, 2012 – The Delta Regional Authority and the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) are partnering on an initiative to create more small businesses and more jobs in the 252 counties and parishes in eight states that make up the federally designated Delta Regional Authority.

The objective of the multi-year project is to increase the capacity for communities to train, support, and mentor aspiring entrepreneurs, and to accelerate the number of new ventures created each year throughout the region. The cornerstone of the project is the nationally recognized Operation JumpStartSM entrepreneurship development program offered by the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University.

“Last year we hosted a series of entrepreneurship symposia in each Delta state,” said Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the CIE. “We provided certification training to over 200 individuals from 120 organizations. These organizations are now poised to begin facilitating Operation JumpStart SM programs in their communities. It has been a wonderful experience to develop these partnerships. And we can’t wait to see the new businesses that will result from these efforts.”

The second phase of the project is to provide support and technical assistance to the new Operation JumpStart SM affiliates so they can begin delivering the program to aspiring entrepreneurs in their communities. A request for proposals for grant funding was announced earlier this year, which attracted nearly 30 applications from organizations throughout the region. The applications were blind-reviewed by an outside panel and awardees have been selected.

The grants being awarded to 10 organizations averaged $18,453. These funds will be used to pay for training materials, course facilitators and other expenses to deliver the Operation JumpStart SM program. Classes will be offered between April and August of this year throughout the Delta. The initiative is anticipated to provide training and support to more than 300 aspiring entrepreneurs who are expected to immediately start nearly 100 new businesses.

Funding for the initiative is being provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s PRIME program and the Delta Regional Authority.

“Access to training and resources is crucial to developing successful small businesses and creating good-paying jobs for the people of the Delta region,” said Chris Masingill, the Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority. “This program is one in a series of initiatives we are supporting to accelerate entrepreneurship and continue building our economy of the future. We are excited to partner with Southeast Missouri State University on this phase of Accelerating Entrepreneurship in the Delta.” The awardees are: Grambling State University – Grambling, La. Holmes Community College – Goodman, Miss. Microbusiness Enterprise Corporation of Ascension (MBECA) – Prairieville, La. Mid-South Community College Foundation, Inc. – West Memphis, Ark. Mississippi Action for Community Education, Inc. – Greenville, Miss. Murray State University – Regional Business and Innovation Center – Paducah, Ky. Ozarks Small Business Incubator – West Plains, Mo. Shield, Inc. – Memphis, Tenn. Southeastern Illinois College – Workforce and Illinois Small Business Development Center – Harrisburg, Ill. St. Mary Community Action Agency – Franklin, La. The University of West Alabama Division of Outreach Services – Livingston, Ala. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff – Economic Research and Development Center – Pine Bluff, Ark.

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 accelerate 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.