Innovation Center Awarded JumpStarting Missouri Communities Post Flood Grant

by News Bureau on Wednesday, Feb. 08, 2012

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Feb. 8, 2012 – Officials with the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Southeast Missouri State University and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) today announced a $170,556 investment to assist flood-impacted Missouri counties recover by providing training and technical assistance to disadvantaged microentrepreneurs.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who serves as the States’ co-chairman of the DRA; Chris Masingill, federal co-chair of the Delta Regional Authority; and Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University; announced the $145,556 Delta Regional Authority “JumpStarting Missouri Communities Post Flood” grant award to the CIE during a news conference in the Aleen Vogel Wehking Alumni Center at Southeast. The CIE has committed an additional $25,000 in local funds to provide microenterprise grants to entrepreneurs.

The purpose of the “JumpStarting Missouri Communities Post Flood” grant is to create jobs by empowering and preparing individuals to create new businesses. The catalyst for the job creation program will be the Operation Jump-Start program, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial training and mentoring program that has consistently produced sustainable ventures that created jobs and resulted in solid measurable economic impact through Missouri and in seven other states in the lower Mississippi Delta region. Officials say the grant funding is expected to lead to the creation of many new successful small businesses.

The CIE will administer the program, offering entrepreneurial training using its Operation Jump-Start model program. Four six-week classes will be offered in Cape Girardeau, Piedmont, Sikeston and Charleston, Mo. Classes will be offered from early March to mid-September of this year.

“From agriculture to manufacturing to small businesses along Main Street, southeast Missouri is a vital pillar of our state’s economy, and it’s essential that we keep this region moving forward,” Nixon said. “This investment in entrepreneurship and innovation will help folks in southeast Missouri create new businesses and new opportunities to grow the local economy for years to come. I am proud to work with the Delta Regional Authority and Southeast Missouri State University to make these funds available, and we will continue to stand with the people of southeast Missouri at every stage of this recovery.”

Masingill said, “Small business and entrepreneurs are the future of the Delta economy. Technical assistance and successful programs like Operation Jumpstart will help Missouri communities build new business and inspire economic recovery after these devastating floods. It is imperative that we invest in programs like these that help create good-paying jobs for this state and this region.”

Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and assistant professor of management at Southeast, added, “The economy in southeast Missouri has faced a number of challenges in recent years. Among them was the historical flood in 2011, which led to destruction of many small businesses and jobs. The resources being provided by the Delta Regional Authority will allow the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to provide training and technical assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs that will create new businesses and jobs that will begin to fill some of the voids left by the flood. At a time when job creation is so critical to our region, we appreciate the DRA’s and Governor Nixon’s continued support of Operation JumpStart and Southeast Missouri State University.”

Officials today said southeast Missouri has a dire need for jobs and economic growth as well as workforce training, both of which were exacerbated by damaging floods last year.

“An unusual hardship occurred last spring in southeast Missouri,” Dobbins said. “Heavy spring floods combined with elevated amounts of thawing winter precipitation, resulted in historically severe flooding in southeast Missouri and the lower Mississippi Delta Region. This region has been hit doubly hard by flooding and the economic recession, and rural communities are suffering.”

This project addresses these needs by training entrepreneurs to start businesses with a proven model in areas hardest hit economically by flooding,” Dobbins added.

Operation Jump-Start will train individuals in basic skills to become small business owners, guide them in analyzing the feasibility of their business ideas and contribute a pool of funds from which they can compete for small start-up grants.

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 center 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.