Operation Jump-Start Graduates Awarded Start-Up Grant Funding


Photo of Rob Luna

Rob Luna has received start-up grant funding for his business, Rob Luna Design in Old Mines. Luna is a recent graduate of Operation Jump-Start training offered in Potosi, Mo.



Aug. 12, 2010 – Start-up grant funding has been awarded to two recent graduates of Operation Jump-Start training offered in Potosi, Mo.

Selected for the awards were Diane Norris, owner of ProClean Property Management in Farmington, Mo., and Rob Luna, owner of Rob Luna Design in Old Mines. Both completed Operation Jump-Start (OJS) training in June.

OJS is a six-week small business training course supported by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Southeast Missouri State University.  Throughout the sessions, individuals are taught the basic elements of a viable, business /feasibility plan.  An independent committee reviews those feasibility plans submitted in competition for seed capital by graduates of the training.

Funding for the seed capital grants is provided by East Missouri Action Agency (EMAA) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  In its eight-county region, EMAA’s mission is to assist disadvantaged individuals and promote empowerment and betterment.  The OJS class was sponsored through funding received by the CIE from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Norris said of the OJS program, “I have a business degree, so some things I already knew, but this class gave me a different way of looking at everything.”

She added, “What I realized was that college teaches you to work in or run a business, but Jump-Start teaches you how to start your own business.”

Norris, unemployed for nearly a year, had researched local, needed enterprises, and attended OJS with several different ideas in mind, she said. 

“The First Step FastTrac curriculum walks you through the pros and cons of any idea,” she said, “and based on the help from the instructor, I settled on this idea.” 

ProClean Property Management specializes in cleaning and security services for foreclosed or vacant properties.  Norris said that with the recent changes in the economy, more properties are left vacant with no one to re-occupy the home.  She said she would like to take additional certification classes to specialize in mold remediation and crime-scene cleanup.  For more information, contact Norris at (573) 366-3127.

When Luna and his family moved to Old Mines, he began working part-time in Potosi as a graphic designer for a local company, while still working from home for a few clients.  However, he said he always felt his calling was to expand his graphics business and become completely self-employed. 

“When the economy started to decline,” Luna said, “my architecture clientele dropped off and my business was suffering.  I applied for additional jobs everywhere locally, but when I didn’t get any offers, I knew it was a sign that I just had to make my business work.  And then Operation Jump-Start came along.”

Luna has a graphic communications degree and 10 years of experience working in architectural design and print media.  Luna believes OJS was the key to his new success.  He said that the opportunity to put his ideas and plans in writing was helpful.

“What helped me the most, though,” Luna added, “was the extra knowledge I got from the instructor. He stayed several nights after class with me and would answer all my questions.”

With hopes to open an office soon on Main St. in Potosi, he continues to work out of his home for now. 

“The grant funding was very helpful because now I can take a laptop to my clients and show them my work instead of printing off material and just showing clients a picture,” he said. “The laptop adds a more mobile and professional element to my business.”

Luna is a member of the Washington County Tourism Council and the Washington County Industrial Development Authority.  For more information on his business, visit www.roblunadesign.com.

OJS is an award-winning, nationally-recognized training model.  About 600 entrepreneurs have already graduated from OJS and nearly a third have gone on to start or expand their small businesses.  In September, OJS will be offered in Ste. Genevieve, Mo., at the County Community Center.  Applications are currently being accepted for this class, and community mentors are always needed to assist the new entrepreneurs in the region.

The CIE supports Southeast University’s strategic priority to advance the region’s economic appeal and strength by accelerating local and regional economic growth and development that improves the quality of lives, communities, and businesses in southeast Missouri and the surrounding region.  The OJS program is an award-winning, nationally-recognized training model.  About 600 entrepreneurs have already graduated from OJS and nearly one-third have gone on to start or expand their small businesses.

For more information about OJS, please contact Gina Harper, CIE training coordinator, at (573) 651-2940 or gharper@semo.edu.