Entrepreneurship Thriving in Scott County

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 21, 2011 — After six weeks of evening classes, 21 aspiring entrepreneurs graduated recently from the Operation JumpStart small business training program held at Southeast Missouri State University-Sikeston. 

The participants learned to develop the components of a viable business feasibility plan, and all have the opportunity to submit their plans in late June in competition for seed grant or start-up capital for their business concepts. 

The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Southeast Missouri State University conducted the training, which was sponsored by the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce (SACC).  The microenterprise development program was additionally funded in part by the Delta Regional Authority, a federal-state partnership whose directive is to improve the quality of life for those living in 252 counties and parishes in the eight-state Mississippi River Delta Region. 

Missy Marshall, SACC executive director, encouraged graduates to join their local chambers of commerce and explained that chambers can and will be their ‘voices’ in the community.  Marshall said the SACC is a very busy chamber with about 600 members, which sponsors numerous events and activities, and handles up to 20,000 phone calls a year.  The SACC responds to many questions about small businesses in the area, and Marshall said the chamber will only endorse their chamber members’ businesses and that in itself is ‘free’ advertising.    

Lowell Fish of Chaffee, Mo., plans to start a handyman business soon.  He said, “The class was a tremendous help to me.  I gained lots of information and feel much more prepared to start my business.”“The JumpStart model consistently produces businesses that are still in operation at an astounding rate of 92 percent after two years,” according to Gina Harper, training coordinator for the program.  “Some of the participants drove quite a distance to participate in the program.”  Harper said participants represented seven counties: Butler, Cape Girardeau, Scott, Mississippi, Bollinger, New Madrid and Wayne.  “That really tells us that the demand for entrepreneurial training remains widespread in the region,” she added “which is why our Center continues to seek funding to expand the program.”

Operation JumpStart has been instrumental in assisting more than 625 individuals who have started or expanded more than 250 small businesses in Missouri, Tennessee and Illinois, Harper said.

Twenty-one people, representing seven counties, recently graduated from a six-week Operation JumpStart class for aspiring new business owners conducted in Sikeston by the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University.

The CIE 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 about Operation JumpStart or the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial support services it offers, visit www.semo.edu/cie.