Southeast Announces Blakemore Family Business Initiative


Southeast Missouri State University has launched the Blakemore Family Business Initiative through the generosity of an endowment established by J. David Blakemore, a two-time alumnus of the University.

Blakemore who graduated from Southeast with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, double majoring in accounting and management information systems in 2010, and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in finance in 2015, is president of Blakemore Cotton & Grain, LLC.

The Blakemore Family Business Initiative is housed in the Donald L. Harrison College of Business and Computing (HCBC). The initiative’s purpose is to provide an interdisciplinary approach for education, research and support of all aspects of family business ownership, growth and succession planning.

“There is a perception that when someone graduates with a business degree they necessarily go work for a corporation,” said Dr. Alberto Davila, dean of the HCBC. “The reality is that half of the national economy is driven by family businesses, and this is even more so in the region we serve.”

Davila credits the insights and experience of Blakemore for not only bringing attention to the need for more education and research opportunities on family run businesses, but for also creating an endowment to ensure it happens.

“I’m very appreciative that David has brought focus to this aspect of business at Southeast,” said Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast. “I know the research and learning opportunities made possible by the Blakemore Family Business Initiative will help our students and make an impact on our region and state. This will be a lasting contribution and legacy he has made at Southeast.”

J. David Blakemore

Blakemore’s commitment and drive to helping family businesses comes from personal experience. “There are challenges and rewards when working in a family business,” said Blakemore. “I hope this initiative will create a path where students reap greater rewards working in their family business and can minimize the challenges, as there can be great satisfaction and purpose when working in this type of business.”

Some of the activities, research and learning opportunities the initiative will fund include:

  • Research and resources for faculty, students and external community members to focus on family business ownership, growth and succession planning.
  • Faculty Fellows to conduct research related to various family business aspects and issues and to develop curriculum for students in this field of study.
  • Programs by industry experts as part of a dedicated speaker series and/or to participate in a larger regional symposium that would be open to students and the external community.
  • Experiential learning opportunities for students, including participation in conferences relating to this field of study as well as a student intern each semester to engage in projects under the guidance of the dean and Faculty Fellows.
  • Collaborations with other entrepreneurial programs, such as the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Catapult Creative House.
  • Partnerships with student organizations to provide an introduction to the challenges and rewards of family business ownership.

In addition to founding this initiative, Blakemore serves on the Harrison College of Business and Computing Advisory Committee. In October 2020 he was recognized by the Southeast Alumni Association with an Alumni Merit Award, which is given to alumni who have brought distinction to themselves and the University.

Blakemore and his wife, Carolyn, have also established scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students at Southeast. He and his wife live in Campbell, Missouri, and have three daughters and one son. They are active members in the Holcomb United Methodist Church, where he serves as a Lay Speaker.