CIE Announces SPARK Awards for National Entrepreneurship Week

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Feb. 24, 2011 – In celebration of National Entrepreneurship Week 2011, the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Southeast Missouri State University is pleased to announce three area small businesses as the recipients of the 2011 SPARK Awards for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

Ellen Hogenmiller, owner of Ellen’s Flowerscapes in Ste. Genevieve; Philip Goggin, owner of Pro Software Solutions in Farmington; and Rob Luna, owner of rob LUNA designs in Potosi were selected for their entrepreneurial spirit and achievement.

“The annual SPARK awards are an excellent opportunity for our Center to highlight the successes and accomplishments these entrepreneurs have demonstrated since completing the CIE’s signature entrepreneurship training program, Operation JumpStart,” said Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of Southeast’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Luna and Goggin are both 2010 graduates of Operation JumpStart (OJS), while Hogenmiller was part of a 2006 special topic OJS training class, which had an emphasis on horticulture and agriculture.

Expansion of service area, overcoming diversity and pitfalls, innovative approaches, increases in products or services, and community outreach were all considered when the selection committee recommended the final three SPARK Award winners, according to Gina Harper, project coordinator for the CIE. Now in its third year, the SPARK Award has been given to 12 Operation JumpStart small businesses in the Missouri, Tennessee and Illinois region, that most exemplify entrepreneurial spirit. Each of the recipients of the 2011 SPARK awards were started or expanded after receiving grant funding through the OJS business plan competition, Harper said.

“Each year,” Harper said, “It becomes more difficult for the SPARK award committee to choose only a few winners. All of the nominees for the award deserve some recognition because they are making their mark in being in operation, and continuing to grow after years one, two or more.”

Operation JumpStart teaches participants essential business planning and preparation skills with hands-on, practical training in a non-threatening, adult education environment, Harper explained.

The program has been completed by 550 individuals in the tri-state area who have created more than 200 new businesses and hundreds of new jobs, Harper said. Four additional Operation JumpStart classes are planned for Spring 2011 in Marble Hill, Ironton, Cape Girardeau and Sikeston, Mo. The Marble Hill course is already filled to capacity with several on a waiting list. The other three locations have seats available. For those interested in attending, please contact the CIE at (573) 651-2929.

The SPARK Awards for Entrepreneurial Excellence were announced as part of the CIE observation of National Entrepreneurship Week, Feb. 19-26. National Entrepreneurship Week celebrates the heritage of entrepreneurial leadership in America and encourages support for the growth of entrepreneurship education as a life-long learning process.

The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) 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 advance the region’s economic appeal and strength by accelerating local and regional economic growth and development that improves the quality of lives, communities and businesses in southeast Missouri and the surrounding region. For more information, visit the CIE Facebook page: www.facebook.com/centerforinnovationandentrepreneurship or the CIE website www.semo.edu/cie.