Catapult Creative House to Promote Entrepreneurial Mind-set in Innovative Space

CatapultCAPE GIRARDEAU, Missouri, April 27, 2015 – Catapult Creative House — Southeast Missouri State University’s groundbreaking creative arts and industries incubator at 612 S. Broadway — will open its doors May 1 providing a mechanism to drive the entrepreneurial mind-set of today’s students.

The soft-opening celebration, from 5-9 p.m. in conjunction with Cape Girardeau’s monthly First Friday events, marks the launch of a commercial learning laboratory where creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship will converge, bringing novel products and services with a sustainable twist and local connection to market in a modern commercial marketplace.

Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, said, “New ideas are driving success in our economy. The creative economy is changing the way people live, work and learn – where they think, invent and innovate. Catapult Creative House will provide a model for the future of multidisciplinary and experiential learning by connecting students and practitioners in a variety of creative and innovative disciplines that often work in silos, and immersing them in a space with the technology and creative culture to bring big ideas to life.”

Dobbins says Catapult also helps anchor an entrepreneurial corridor on Broadway, complementing the work of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at 920 Broadway and the soon-to-be Center for Excellence in Mass Media at 325 Broadway, another innovation laboratory in partnership with Rust Communications and KFVS12.

Catapult Creative House Operations Manager Leah Powers added, “A lot of students have dreams of one day becoming entrepreneurs. This is their chance to explore entrepreneurship and explore business in a supportive atmosphere.”

Located in a two-story building in the heart of downtown Cape Girardeau, Southeast has revitalized a vacant storefront into a launchpad for creative and innovative businesses. This student-run venture will give students from all Southeast disciplines the opportunity to spawn ideas and test business models — leading or participating in creating, developing and selling innovative products and services. The facility offers specialized work space that supports experiential learning opportunities, taking students from the idea and concept stage, to prototyping and product/service development, to commercialization. Practicum credit also may be available to students engaged at Catapult Creative House, depending on their major.

Catapult Creative House is the outcome of an interdisciplinary collaboration involving 12 faculty members drawn from eight academic programs from four different colleges.

“All students, every student, regardless of major, will have the opportunity to be involved with creativity, innovation, development and commercialization in a student operated venture,” said Dr. Gerald McDougall, associate provost for Extended Learning and dean of the Harrison College of Business. “The mission of the creative arts and industries incubator is to cultivate creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship by connecting students, faculty and practitioners in a multidisciplinary learning laboratory.”

Catapult artworkFrom Broadway, visitors enter the12,312-square-foot  facility into an art gallery, featuring  student-produced artwork available for purchase. Artwork designed and created by students, including painting, prints, sculpture, ceramics, digital media and photography will be sold. Construction management and interior design majors are building moving gallery walls so the space can be flexible and reconfigured for different exhibits.

The first floor also features a retail shop where unique student-made products –including apparel, fashion accessories, jewelry, paper products, photography services, gourmet drinks and snacks, environmental sustainability artwork and CDs with student produced music – will be sold.

A gourmet beverage and snack bar operated by hospitality management students is located toward the rear of the space. The bar will feature Kaldi’s Coffee as well as various teas, smoothies, specialty drinks and snacks created by students in hospitality management courses.

The east side of the first floor houses a letterpress print shop where students and community members will have access to three rustmedia printing presses: a Vandercook press and a Chandler & Price press, which are the older, traditional models, and a Heidelberg press, more commonly used today.

The Chandler & Price press was built in the early 1950s and previously was located in a building at 13th and St. Louis Avenue in the Old North neighborhood of St. Louis. The building housing the press formerly was owned by Jaymar Co. but recently was purchased by the Old North Restoration Group. Near the end of its existence, the company had only 10 employees on one floor. The other three floors were filled with miscellaneous items, including the Chandler & Price press. The historic press, likely used in its day to print small letterpress items, such as invitations, postcards and business cards, was acquired by Firecracker Press in St. Louis. Southeast alumna Katherine Miller who is employed by Firecracker Press, refurbished the press before it was acquired by rustmedia in Cape Girardeau.

Southeast officials say the presses will be fully operational in the fall and will expose students to print formats from letterpress to digital. Students and community members who are interested in learning how to use the press will have the opportunity to register for classes and, after achieving certification, will be able to create their own pieces.

“While the press room is located in Catapult and available to trained faculty and students wishing to learn how to use these magnificent letterpress specimens, rustmedia will also have access to these unique presses,” McDougall said. “Needless to say, we are grateful to Gary Rust II and rustmedia for making this collaboration possible.”

The letterpress print shop also houses a rustmedia linotype machine for display purposes. The first floor area also accommodates a computer station in which students can access MacBook computers and a 3D printer.

In addition, the east side includes a modular classroom, which may be used by any individuals wishing to teach or host an event in the space.

The second floor focuses on creative disciplines with artists, fashion designers, software developers, 3-D modeling and printing, photography and web application development.

Highlighting the second floor is the “Impact Room,” Catapult’s conference center with a glass wall overlooking the first floor gallery space. The glass overlook doubles as a “whiteboard” for those in the conference center brainstorming and collaborating on ideas. Additionally, the second floor consists of a social space to support collaborative and multidisciplinary interaction, art studio and small commercial photography studio. The photography studio is designed to provide student artists and photographers a place to photograph their subjects and get access to the materials they need. The art studio will host a spray zone complete with a ventilation system designed to rid the space of fumes when students use it for spray painting projects. Resting on a loft space above the art gallery, students will have access to five sewing machines and an embroidering machine along with a drafting table for large projects and interior design mock-ups.

“The second floor is designed to be a creative space, while the first floor is where students can showcase their creations,” said Leah Powers, operations manager for Catapult Creative House.

Business students also will collaborate at Catapult, serving as consultants to student entrepreneurs, providing marketing, accounting and other business support services for start-up ventures, said Dr. Judy Wiles, director of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The lab is the culmination of years of work in which students and faculty submitted ideas for the space and sought to work out the center’s logistics and needs. Roots for Catapult Creative House began in 1996 when the Board of Regents approved the establishment of the Center for Entrepreneurship and a minor in entrepreneurship for undergraduate business majors. Since then, the Board named the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, established six focused or specialized minors in entrepreneurship that connect academic programming with faculty and undergraduate students across campus and an option in entrepreneurship under the MBA program. In 2013, the Board established the Institute for Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship to expand non-credit outreach to foster the growth of microenterprise business development in this multi-state region based on the Kaufman Foundation’s Operation Jump Start curriculum.

EVT-CatapultStudents and faculty from several academic programs offered by four departments across four colleges developed the project concept from the outset. Ten faculty members make up a Faculty Advisory Group that has worked extensively to create multiple academic and co-curricular pathways for students to make the most of the opportunities available at Catapult Creative House. Programs represented include hospitality management, art, interior design, business, commercial photography, construction management, fashion merchandising and music. Planned programming incorporates 24 different courses.

McDougall notes Catapult’s success rests on the shoulders of the students and faculty involved with the project. Southeast faculty members who have committed to working with students in the venue and ensuring the best experience for students and customers include:

Quantella Noto-Anderson – Department of Human Environmental Studies: Hospitality Management

Michelle Brune – Department of Human Environmental Studies: Interior Design

Wendy Cooper – Department of Polytechnic Studies: Photography

Caroline Kahler – Department of Art

Kevin McMeel – Department of Polytechnic Studies: Industrial Engineering

Justin Miller – Department of Art

Lynn Moore – Department of Human Environmental Studies: Fashion Merchandising

Bradley Philips – Department of Polytechnic Studies: Industrial Engineering

Kristin Powers Nowlin – Department of Art

Hannah Sanders – Department of Art

Judy Wiles – College of Business

Chris Wubbena – Department of Art

Catapult Creative House was made possible by a generous gift from Southeast alumnus Charles Stamp Jr., vice president, Public Affairs Worldwide, at Deere & Company. Total cost of the Catapult Creative House venture is $1.95 million. Financing for the project also has been provided through city and state grants awarded to the Missouri Innovation Corporation, a 501(c)3 established by Southeast Missouri State University, along with additional private donations and University funds.

“Charlie’s generous gift allows us to make this next investment in our outstanding entrepreneurship program. He knows first-hand the importance of real-world experiences for students, and the importance of cultivating the talents of aspiring entrepreneurs. We appreciate not only his gift of treasure, but look forward to Charlie spending time mentoring our students,” Dobbins said.

A grand opening of the facility is planned for next fall.

Catapult Creative House will remain open during the summer from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The operation will be open six or seven days a week beginning in the fall.