Nixon visits SEMO to announce business grant program

Thursday, February 9, 2012
Gov. Jay Nixon speaks at Southeast Missouri State's Aleen Vogel Wehking Alumni Center on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012, following an announcement of more than a $170,000 investment for Southeast's Operation JumpStart program. Behind Nixon sits Southeast Missouri State University President Kenneth Dobbins. (Kristin Eberts)

Gov. Jay Nixon joined the Delta Regional Authority's federal co-chairman and Southeast Missouri State University's president Wednesday morning in Cape Girardeau to announce a new initiative the parties say will generate job growth in the region.

The Delta Regional Authority will contribute $145,500 and the university will contribute $25,000 to Operation Jumpstart, a program through the university's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship that trains people to become small-business owners, develop business ideas and compete for small startup grants. According to a news release from the university, its $25,000 contribution to the initiative will provide grants to entrepreneurs.

Nixon, who is the state's co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, emphasized the importance of small startup businesses in creating jobs and increasing exports from Missouri.

The grants will allow Operation Jumpstart courses to expand in Cape Girardeau and into Piedmont, Sikeston and Charleston. The courses will be offered at night for six weeks beginning in early March.

"I encourage folks to take advantage of this opportunity," Nixon said.

He also expressed confidence the initiative is a good use of public money that will be successful in creating jobs.

Nixon visited Cape Girardeau last year to help announce the kickoff of the 2011 Operation Jumpstart program through the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which trained 65 people and helped launch 17 businesses using grant funds from the Delta Regional Authority. This year's grant, known under project name JumpStarting Missouri Communities Post-Flood, targets 14 area counties affected by last year's flooding and has a goal of training 80 people and creating 25 businesses and 35 jobs. According to a report on the economic aftermath from Mississippi River flooding in 2011, small businesses are most likely to be affected, and 93 percent of Missouri businesses are considered small.

The Delta Regional Authority's federal co-chairman, Chris Masingill, said his organization is investing in the initiative to continue creating a support structure that provides technical resources and training so would-be entrepreneurs have the resources they need.

"This will give more people not only the opportunity to create their own businesses, but to work for themselves and provide good-paying jobs," Masingill said.

The Delta Regional Authority invests in public infrastructure, transportation, workforce development and business development in a region that includes 252 counties in parts of eight states. Investments come through the authority's States Economic Development Assistance Program.

University president Dr. Ken Dobbins and Masingill pointed to data showing that since 1992, more than 80 percent of all new jobs in Missouri came from companies with nine or fewer employees.

Dobbins said the university is at the forefront of forming partnerships to create jobs in the region and that partnerships between the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and communities in recent years have prompted more than 300 startup businesses and 800 jobs. Past and current initiatives and programs through the center rely on federal and state agency grant funding.

Following the news conference where the grant announcement was made, Nixon toured the center.

Sign-up information and online registration for Operation Jumpstart courses can be found at www.semo.edu/cie. Registration is open for the Jumpstart courses and various other training from the CIE. Deadlines vary by location of courses, and early registration is encouraged.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

926 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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