Two New Clients Join the Business Incubator

Southeast Missouri State University’s business incubator, managed by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), welcomed two new businesses in the last few weeks—Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and Five for Water Foundation, Inc.  The MEP program is headquartered in Rolla, Mo., and its mission is to help Missouri businesses succeed by providing a broad range of hands-on business, technical and manufacturing optimization services, delivered by an experienced, “been there, done that,” staff and a comprehensive network of public and private partners, according to Rob Osborn, area business manager.  Osborn said that the office will house him and two project managers who work closely with Southeast Missouri businesses.The Five for Water Foundation, Inc.’s president is Bill Prost, alumnus of Southeast University.  He has an extensive background in marketing and has owned Prost Marketing for over 20 years.  Prost has completed over 3 years of test research and marketing for a fundraising campaign that partners Rotary International and its 7,700 clubs in the United States with Green Mountain Coffee, Waterbury, VT.  Green Mountain provides 5% of pre-tax profits to launch environmental and social programs in third-world countries like Bolivia, Tanzania and Uganda, among others, he said.  “The multitude of services that the Center offers are a true asset to the community,” Prost said, “and my company (will) benefit from these assets for my nation-wide September 2010 launch.”The business incubator, which opened in April 2006, is located inside the SE Innovation Center and encourages development of new businesses and technologies and provides resources to nurture them through the start-up phase.  Currently, the incubator operates at about 90% capacity with start-up businesses and small business resources.  Other current clients of the business incubator are MB Medical Reimbursement LLC, CENET: Cultural Exchange Network, and the US Small Business Administration.

Most start-up businesses remain in an incubator for an average of three years, according to Gina Harper, building manager. She added that small businesses that get their start in an incubator statistically have an 80 percent higher rate of survival than those locating outside an incubator, according to the US SBA. “We welcome all businesses to apply,” she said. “The goal is to attract businesses in the areas of research, light manufacturing, technology or service.”Harper also said that a suite will be opened in the fall of 2010 deemed the “Start-Up Studio” that will house student-run enterprises. Dr. James Stapleton, CIE Executive Director, has established mentoring and coaching protocol to assist students with idea creation and launch.  According to Stapleton, 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.

“The CIE is one of the most comprehensive entrepreneurship-focused university centers in the  Midwest,” Stapleton explained, “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.”

Those interested in touring the business incubator are asked to call Harper at (573) 651-2940 to schedule an appointment.  Interested start-up businesses also may visit the CIE online at www.semo.edu/cie.