More than 20 new entrepreneur from three counties are graduating from the six-week, small business training program, Operation Jump-Start, offered through the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Southeast.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 15, 2010 — Farmington will host a graduation ceremony today, April 15, for more than 20 new entrepreneurs who have attended the six-week, small business training program, Operation Jump-Start, offered through the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Southeast Missouri State University.
Graduates represent three counties with towns including Bismark, Leadwood, Desloge, Arcadia, Annapolis, Farmington, Park Hills, Potosi, Cadet, Mineral Point and Ironton. For two weeks following graduation, many of the entrepreneurs will work vigorously on their business plans in order to submit them in competition for the possibility of up to $5,000 in start-up, seed capital for their emerging businesses.
To showcase this and other recent youth entrepreneurial activity in St. Francois and Washington counties, another event is planned for May 17 called “Seeds of Success.” The community is invited to show their support for local entrepreneurship by attending this event at 6 p.m. at Mineral Area College. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University and East Missouri Action Agency (EMAA) are co-sponsoring “Seeds of Success”, along with funding from several other agencies dedicated to workforce development.
“Currently, two programs are running in unison in St. Francois and Washington counties,” said Gina Harper, project coordinator for the CIE, “youth and adult entrepreneurship. It’s a partnership that we think every community should embrace.”
Harper explained that in the recent Operation Jump-Start classes, adults have been taught business plan basics such as cash flow, pricing, competition and market analysis, she said. The concepts they have learned can be applied to any type of small business.
In addition, the youth in both Potosi and Farmington High Schools have been preparing feasibility plans for their projects called community gardens. Harper said that currently the garden plots are being tilled and prepared, and planting will begin shortly. The high school students along with community volunteers will manage the gardens this summer and will see the actions in the business plans taking shape.
“With any business,” Harper said, “a business plan is a guide and a map to the activity that should occur throughout the year for the business to be successful. But sometimes, plans change. We want the high school students to understand that adapting to change is one of the keys to success in any business.”
Through funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), EMAA will provide seed capital to those winning the business plan competition. The funding the CIE received from the U.S. Small Business Administration funded the Operation Jump-Startclasses and calls for a youth and adult entrepreneurial partnership in each community. This was realized by the community gardens project, Harper said. Janey Radford, EMAA community resource development specialist, is leading the community garden charge in the 8-county EMAA service area. Funding from ARRA allows Radford to also purchase garden equipment and supplies for each garden.
“The cities of Farmington and Potosi have been extremely positive about the program and they understand the value of pairing youth and adults early and forming an entrepreneurial mindset in the community,” Harper said. “I know Janey has worked exceptionally hard in all the EMAA counties to make everyone aware of the importance of the gardens.”
Radford explained that developing a healthy lifestyle is just one aspect of this project. According to the latest statistics from the Food Research and Action Center, an estimated 894,320 individuals in Missouri receive the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Sometimes families do not have access to or the money necessary to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and are forced to make less nutritional food choices, she said. She sees the gardens in her service areas as tremendously helpful influences on the future of children, including those battling childhood obesity. The benefits of community gardens stretch far beyond the dinner table, she said.
Farmington’s community garden is located behind the Farmington High School. Potosi’s garden is a few blocks from Potosi High School on land donated by local businesswoman, Debby Bust. Volunteers and mentors are still needed to work with the students this summer. To become involved this summer in one of the community gardens or for more information on Operation Jump-Start, please contact (573) 651-2286 or one of the local EMAA offices in Marble Hill , Cape Girardeau, Ironton, Fredericktown, Perryville, Park Hills, Ste. Genevieve or Potosi.