CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 2, 2013 – Southeast Missouri State University and the City of Cape Girardeau have been awarded a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to renovate a building and parking lot at 612 Broadway as part of the Creative Labs and Industries Incubator program. Representatives of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast broke ground Sept. 28 on the project Upon completion, the project will house businesses within the creative industries, including architecture, art, design, fashion, film, music, publishing and software. The incubator will provide a collaborative environment for entrepreneurs to test marketability of products and services, fostering innovative business ideas and creating high-quality jobs. The Creative Labs and Industries Incubator is a new, one-of-a-kind program that cultivates creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship by connecting interdisciplinary teams of students, faculty, and practitioners in highly-integrated laboratories to design novel product and service concepts and test business models through a modern commercial marketplace. “The Creative Labs and Industries Incubator provides an exciting new space to connect interdisciplinary creative teams of students, faculty, and practitioners, turning a revitalized vacant storefront into a launchpad for creative and innovative businesses,” said Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the Center and assistant to the president for Strategic and Entrepreneurial Initiatives. “This unique approach brings together artistic and creative talent to spawn new ideas in an environment with the tools to design and develop innovative products and services, and a commercial marketplace to test business models. We are grateful for the support of the Department of Economic Development and the City of Cape Girardeau. Together with the University and our benefactors these investments will create new businesses, jobs and a unique destination in an increasingly rejuvenated downtown.”
Stapleton developed the new concept to improve on current incubator approaches that offer little more than inexpensive rent. The new program will be located in the heart of downtown Cape Girardeau that connects the University’s main campus with its River Campus. Laboratory spaces will include a variety of creative studios for 3D modeling and printing, app and Web development, graphic design, painting, fashion and printmaking. The commercial market will provide an innovative retail destination that includes galleries, print shops, workshop and venue spaces, an impact room and more. Cape Girardeau City Manager Scott Meyer said, “It’s an exciting development,” particularly, he said, for students in Southeast’s Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts. “It gives those students an outlet to do what they love as a business and make a career of it,” he said. Meyer referenced a job study in the Delta region recently completed by Stapleton. The study found the largest job growth in the Delta among existing businesses and entrepreneurs, he said. “They are the ones that are growing,” Meyer said. Entrepreneurial businesses are “a big part of a really growing economy. So that’s why we are targeting those types of businesses. A lot of the businesses are self-made here in our community. That’s what we like to see.” Funding for the project came from the state of Missouri’s annual CDBG allocation. The CDBG program, administered by the Missouri Department of Economic Development provides grants and loan funds to cities with a population under 50,000 and counties under 200,000 to assist in a variety of public works and economic development projects. The project also has been made possible in part by a generous gift of $750,000 to the University from Charles Stamp Jr. Stamp Jr. is vice president, Public Affairs Worldwide, at Deere & Company, a position he has held since September 2002. In his role, Stamp leads a department that manages government and public affairs to provide the company with timely and actionable plans that address issues of risk and opportunities that exist worldwide within key markets and among key audiences. Stamp joined Deere & Company in 1999, as part of the company’s acquisition of InterAg Technologies, Inc., where he was president/chief executive officer. He has also served as president, John Deere Special Technologies Group, and president, Agricultural Division – Global AgServices. Stamp is a native of Missouri. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Southeast Missouri State University and holds the University’s distinguished Alumni Merit Award. He received a Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri School of Law in Columbia in 1974. He practiced law from 1974 until 1981 in Sikeston, Mo. He entered the agribusiness industry in 1981 as president of Meyer Agri-Products, which later became a division of Butler Manufacturing Company, where he served as vice president of Butler’s Agri-Products Division. He then served as president of Capital South Investors and as a partner of Capital Partners, Ltd., which founded InterAg Technologies, Inc. Stamp is a member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He has served as Chairman of the Board of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and is a Life Honorary Director of AEM. He has also served as a trustee of the Farm Foundation. Stamp is a member of the Missouri Bar Association. “Charlie’s generous gift allows us to make this next investment in our outstanding entrepreneurship program. He knows first-hand the importance of real-world experiences for students, and the importance of cultivating the talents of aspiring entrepreneurs. We appreciate not only his gift of treasure, but look forward to Charlie spending time mentoring our students,” Dobbins said. The University hopes to name the facility to honor Stamp at a dedication and grand opening next fall, when the facility renovation will be complete. The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University is one of the most comprehensive entrepreneurship-focused university centers in the Midwest, offering a wide array of academic and outreach programs and services, including: innovation development and research; entrepreneurship education, training and mentorship; and business incubation and development services. The CIE supports Southeast Missouri State University’s strategic priority to accelerate entrepreneurial growth and development that improves the quality of lives, communities and businesses in southeast Missouri and the southeast region.