Entrepreneurial Training Program Coming to Cape Girardeau, Kennett, Poplar Bluff This Fall


Training offered at no cost thanks to DRA grant


Sept. 12, 2003 – If you’ve ever thought about launching your own business and wondered if your business idea has merit, then the First Step FastTrac micro-enterprise entrepreneurial training program coming to Southeast Missouri this fall is for you.

The 12-session program will be offered on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau and via interactive television courses at the Kennett Area Higher Education Center and the Telecommunications Community Resource Center at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo., beginning Oct. 15. The courses will be delivered from 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Wednesdays through Nov. 24.

First Step FastTrac is an education program created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. The hands-on program uses participants’ business concepts as case studies and allows participants to evaluate and perfect their idea. The program is designed for entrepreneurs with low- to moderate-incomes who are starting or expanding a small business. Participants will work closely with other entrepreneurs, sharing ideas and experiences, and laying the foundation for future business relationships.

Students will explore their business concept, learn how they can market their new business, how to price their products and services, how to develop a budget and where they can find financing for their venture. In the end, students will develop a feasibility plan to evaluate their business concept.

Bill Vickery, small business training coordinator, will serve as the lead instructor for the course. Facilitators will be Buz Sutherland, director of the Small Business Development Center, and Cindy Fisher, Americorps*Vista Entrepreneur Corps.

The program has been developed through the Ewing Kauffman Foundation and will be offered at no cost to participants thanks to a $200,000 Delta Regional Authority federal grant recently awarded to Southeast Missouri State University’s Small Business Development Center.

“Fees for this class generally run from $400 to $500, so this is a tremendous opportunity for interested entrepreneurs,” Sutherland said.

The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is a federal-state partnership designed to remedy severe and chronic economic distress by stimulating economic development and fostering partnerships that will have a positive impact on the region’s economy. The DRA helps economically distressed communities to leverage other federal and state programs which are focused on basic infrastructure development and transportation improvements, business development and job training services.

“Thanks to the grant, we are able to provide specific training for emerging and small businesses and to provide them with some financial loan assistance,” Sutherland said. “This gives us the means to make a significant impact on small business throughout Southeast Missouri.”

The in-depth, comprehensive, entrepreneurial training program will help individuals in evaluating the feasibility of their business concept and get them started in carrying it forward.

“This will give them the foundation to successfully start a new business,” Sutherland said, adding that poor planning is the number one cause of small business failure.

“This will create access to a very successful and proven entrepreneurial training program,” Sutherland said. “It will really stimulate entrepreneurial development in the Delta region and increase the probability for success.”

Of the $200,000, over half will be used to provide entrepreneurial training to residents throughout Southeast Missouri. The remainder of the $200,000 grant will be used for a micro-loan program. Those who satisfactorily complete the program will be eligible to apply for micro loans, up to $5,000, to assist them in getting their new business started.

Seating in the course is limited, so please register now by calling (573) 986-6084.