Ste. Genevieve Welcomes RRCI Program this Summer

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 17, 2010 — The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Southeast Missouri State University recently announced a new community development project to begin this summer in Ste. Genevieve, Mo.  

The program, titled Revitalizing Rural Communities Initiative (RRCI), promotes both youth and adult entrepreneurship.

CIE Executive Director Dr. James Stapleton made the announcement at the March Chamber of Commerce meeting at The Orris in Ste. Genevieve.  The crowd of more than 50 local community and business leaders included many Southeast Missouri State University alumni living in Ste. Genevieve County.  Bill Holland, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, also addressed the group to discuss the longstanding partnership between the University and Ste. Genevieve.

Stapleton presented the goals of the RRCI program.  He reiterated the importance of youth and adults working together, retaining youth in the community and the positive economic impact for communities that support entrepreneurship and retain thriving small businesses. 

Also on hand at the event was Gina Harper, CIE project and training coordinator.

“This is an exciting initiative that will bring high school students, current business owners and would-be entrepreneurs together for a common goal to improve some part of their community,” Harper said.

She said that in other participating counties of the RRCI program, the youth small business project is focusing on the sustainability of a community vegetable garden.  In every county, RRCI brings together high school classroom small business planning; a short-term, summer, paid internship for one or two students; adult mentoring sessions; and the Operation Jump-Start (OJS) small business training program for adults. 

Operation Jump-Start is a nationally recognized six–week entrepreneurship training program that teaches participants essential business planning and preparation skills with hands-on, practical training.  The program has been completed by nearly 700 individuals who have created more than 250 new businesses and hundreds of additional jobs.  The businesses created have experienced an astounding 95 percent success rate after two years.  More than 66 percent are still in business after four years, a figure that far exceeds the national average of 50 percent, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.  

”Operation Jump-Start has proven to be an extremely successful model for assisting founders in critical business planning that leads to the successful start-up and continued operation of new ventures,” Stapleton said.

In Ste. Genevieve County, a 2009 impact study by Southeast Missouri State University’s Center for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) reported that OJS has added about $500,000 to overall sales and revenues.  In Washington County, the figure is closer to $1 million, and in St. Francois County, it is about $4 million, according to the year-old study. RRCI is made possible by grant funding provided to the CIE from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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.

Located at the Southeast Innovation Center, the CIE is one of the most comprehensive entrepreneurship-focused university centers in the Midwest, offering a vast array of academic and outreach programs and services, including: innovation development and research; entrepreneurship education, training, and mentorship; business incubation; business training and development; and network building and community development.

For more information about RRCI or Operation Jump-Start, or if you wish to volunteer as a business mentor or revitalization project assistant, contact Gina Harper at (573) 651-2940 or e-mail gharper@semo.edu.