The Missouri Research Corporation (MRC) was established in November 2003 as a wholly owned non-profit subsidiary of the University, Mangels said. The purpose of the corporation in the original Articles of Incorporation was to “further the mission of the University by providing research and educational opportunities for students and faculty through a research institute,” Mangels said. When the MRC was launched, the University was considering creation of a research park at the former University farm property along I-55, and a separate legal organization was recommended as a tool for contracting in these relationships.
In 2003, the University acquired the former First Baptist Church property along Broadway in Cape Girardeau, and their former education building became home to the University’s Missouri Research Corporation, which managed it as a business incubator or innovation center, Mangels said.
The corporation was renamed the Missouri Innovation Center (MIC) in June 2013 to better reflect the activity of the corporation that had developed into entrepreneurial and economic development activity, as opposed to traditional sponsored program activity. The Articles of Incorporation were amended to reflect the purpose of the corporation as “charitable, scientific, and educational.”
In FY2017, the University’s Center for Economic and Business Engagement became a University department and began overseeing the activity of the MIC. Most of the activity of the unit no longer required a separate legal organization, Mangels said. Therefore, all activity except that requiring a 501 (c)(3) status became part of University operations.
Today, the current activity of the MIC has narrowed over the years to management of two revolving loan programs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and funding from the Missouri Technology Corporation for operation of an innovation center. As state funding has declined, the funding from the Missouri Technology Corporation has declined as well, from $155,800 in FY2009 to $24,300 in FY2019 to assist in offering the services of an innovation center.
The revolving loan programs are gap financing programs to help entrepreneurs in the region secure financing for their new or existing small businesses, Mangels said. Loan applications are reviewed by a Loan Review Committee and recommended to the MIC Board of Directors for approval. Nine loans have been issued since November 2014, two have been paid in full and seven are outstanding. Approximately $80,000 in additional funds are available to be loaned through the programs.