CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 5, 2015 – Catapult Creative House, Southeast Missouri State University’s creative arts and industries incubator, will be officially dedicated during Homecoming festivities at 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 16, at 612 S. Broadway in downtown Cape Girardeau.
Catapult cultivates creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship by connecting interdisciplinary teams of students, faculty and practitioners in a rich array of hands-on learning experiences embedded in courses, collaborative projects and extracurricular programming.
“Catapult Creative House’s emphasis is collaboration, helping students look at their project from all angles. An entrepreneur has to understand all aspects of business, from product development, to marketing, management, accounting, sourcing and more,” said Leah Powers, operations manager of Catapult Creative House. “Catapult is connecting students working at Catapult with students from multiple disciplines and professional mentors to offer insight in the development of business. Catapult Creative House already houses five resident studio students and an increasing variety of student product.”
The one-of-a-kind program brings together students from art, business, fashion merchandising, construction management, interior design, hospitality management, entrepreneurship and other academic areas and immerses them in the entrepreneurship experience. The laboratory encourages students to create ideas, innovate and accelerate business start-ups and understand what it takes to become a modern entrepreneur.
Catapult celebrated a soft opening in May in a 13,320- square-foot renovated building in Cape Girardeau’s downtown business district. In addition to student studio and collaboration spaces, the facility provides a retail shop, coffee bar, art gallery, letterpress area, 3-D printing area, photo and paint shops and an art classroom and conference space, all operated by students with faculty oversight.
The dedication will begin with an introduction by University President Dr. Carlos Vargas, followed by Interim Provost Dr. Gerald McDougall discussing Catapult’s innovative academic impact. Also on the program will be Old Town Cape Executive Director Marla Mills highlighting the facility’s impact on the community.
Several Southeast students who have immersed themselves in the incubator will speak as well, including Ashley Lokey, a human environmental studies major, fashion merchandising option, from Hazelwood, Missouri; Terry Davis, a mass communication major, advertising option, and creative writing minor from Jackson, Missouri; and Catherine Hurt, a hospitality management major from Piedmont, Missouri. Lokey will discuss her work in Catapult’s retail space, while Davis will give an overview of the facility’s letterpress, and Hurt will highlight the operation of the beverage bar.
Honorary guest at the dedication will be Charles Stamp, Jr., whose generous gift of $750,000 made the facility possible. Stamp Jr. is vice president, Public Affairs Worldwide, at Deere & Company and a Southeast alumnus.
Catapult Creative House is a $1.95 million venture. In addition to Stamp’s gift, financing has been provided through city and state grants awarded to the Missouri Innovation Corporation, a 501(c)3 established by Southeast Missouri State University, along with additional private donations and University funds.
Located in a two-story building in the heart of downtown Cape Girardeau, Southeast has revitalized a vacant storefront into a launchpad for creative and innovative businesses. This student-run venture will give students from all Southeast disciplines the opportunity to spawn ideas and test business models — leading or participating in creating, developing and selling innovative products and services. The facility offers specialized work space that supports experiential learning opportunities, taking students from the idea and concept stage, to prototyping and product/service development, to commercialization. Practicum credit also may be available to students engaged at Catapult Creative House, depending on their major.
“All students, every student, regardless of major, will have the opportunity to be involved with creativity, innovation, development and commercialization in a student operated venture,” said McDougall. “The mission of the creative arts and industries incubator is to cultivate creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship by connecting students, faculty and practitioners in a multidisciplinary learning laboratory.”
The lab is the culmination of years of work in which students and faculty submitted ideas for the space and sought to work out the center’s logistics and needs. Roots for Catapult Creative House began in 1996 when the Board of Regents approved the establishment of the Center for Entrepreneurship and a minor in entrepreneurship for undergraduate business majors. Since then, the Board named the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, established six focused or specialized minors in entrepreneurship that connect academic programming with faculty and undergraduate students across campus and an option in entrepreneurship under the MBA program. In 2013, the Board established the Institute for Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship to expand non-credit outreach to foster the growth of microenterprise business development in this multi-state region based on the Kaufman Foundation’s Operation Jump Start curriculum.
Catapult Creative House Operations Manager Leah Powers added, “A lot of students have dreams of one day becoming entrepreneurs. This is their chance to explore entrepreneurship and explore business in a supportive atmosphere.”