13 Graduate from Operation Jump-Start



June 15, 2010 – Thirteen participants graduated from Operation Jump-Start (OJS) June 20 in Potosi, Mo.

Operation Jump-Start is a small business training course that teaches entrepreneurs essential business planning skills and allows each graduate to compete for up to $5,000 in seed capital based on the viability of their submitted business plans. The 13 graduates were from several communities in the service area of the East Missouri Action Agency (EMAA), a co-sponsor of OJS.

The class marked a milestone for both graduation statistics and for the instructor, according to Gina Harper, training coordinator for the class’s sponsor, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University.

“On the first night of class, I always tell the class to look around at each other because, more than likely, all the faces they see that night, they will not see six weeks later on graduation,” Harper explained.  “For various reasons, a few participants will drop out of any class. But this time, each person who started did finish. That kind of dedication is wonderful to see.”

 In addition, Harper said the OJS instructor just completed his seventh year teaching the course for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the students gave him and the overall course a perfect score.

The selection committee also has announced the winners of the business plan competition for the Farmington OJS class that graduated in mid-April.  Those five new small businesses received $20,000 in combined start-up funding. They are: Russ Coleman – Coleman Trash in Potosi; Dorothy Allen – Creative Stitches in Ironton, Mo.; Kiley Pyatt – Con-Tuck Lawn Care in Farmington, Mo.; Phillip Goggin – Medical Software Solutions in Desloge, Mo.; and Jeff Thomas – Steel Construction in Annapolis, Mo.  

“I have a business degree from college in the 80’s and I learned more in this OJS class than I did back then,” said graduate Dorothy Allen. “You can tell the instructor really cares, and I would recommend him and this course to anyone.” 

Allen has offered to mentor others in future classes and to guest speak on the importance of entrepreneurship and the OJS program. Allen is just one of more than 360 graduates since 2003 of the OJS program and its predecessor, Operation Bootstrap, from the counties of St. Francois, Iron, Bollinger, Washington, Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve, Madison and Perry.

The entrepreneurial training program continues to be popular in ‘”the northern part of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s service region,” Harper said.  Because of that, another class will be offered beginning in July in Park Hills, Mo. Applications are required and can be obtained from local EMAA offices.   Applications must be completed and received by June 30.  To participate in the business plan competition, applicants must meet EMAA income guidelines.  Classes begin July 6, and attendees will be notified of acceptance into the course.  Seating is limited, so don’t delay.

Janey Radford, EMAA community development resource specialist said, “We are about helping families reach their highest potential and the long-term effects of a program like this are far reaching. We have been extremely fortunate to have these classes in the counties that we serve. More than just the potential for seed capital, these classes give entrepreneurs the tools they need to be successful, which is of vital importance in today’s economy.”

Funding for OJS has been received from EMAA through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship through the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Small Business Administration.