Groundbreaking held for next-generation business incubator

Sunday, September 29, 2013
Charles Stamp Jr., left, and Dr. James Stapleton break a ceremonial wall Saturday to kick off construction of the Creative Labs and Industries Incubator, 612 Broadway in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

In about a year, Southeast Missouri State University officials hope to host a dedication for the next generation of business incubators in downtown Cape Girardeau.

The first step was taken Saturday morning with a groundbreaking -- of sorts -- at 612 Broadway on the Creative Labs and Industries Incubator. James Stapleton, executive director of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast, and founding benefactor Charles Stamp Jr. wielded sledgehammers to take down a short stack of bricks symbolizing the start of the incubator, which officials plan to open next fall.

Stamp donated $750,000 to the project, and Stapleton said late Friday he received a note from the Missouri Department of Economic Development it would release $500,000 through its Community Development Block Grant funds for the project, as well.

The attached buildings at 612 and 616 Broadway will be made into one. The second floor will focus on creative disciplines with artists, fashion designers, software developers, 3-D modeling and printing, letterpress printmaking and web application development, to name a few. Students will get hands-on experience and mix with practitioners with real-world experience.

The first floor will feature retail space and a coffee bar. A three-dimensional rendering of the facility was shown to an audience of about 80 people. Stapleton said a 15-member faculty advisory group and a committee of 15 students were involved in putting the incubator concept together.

"This is very exciting," Stapleton said afterward. "It's been a project we've desired for some time. It's a matter of trying to get all the resources together so we can do it."

Stamp said it was an honor for him to be part of the project. On the brochure for the groundbreaking, there is a photo of Al's 234 Shops, a prestigious now-closed men's store Stamp worked at as a Southeast Missouri State University student.

"I worked for the Oglander family all four years I was there and it added a great deal to my education," said Stamp, who earned a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in economics from Southeast and a law degree from the University of Missouri Law School in Columbia.

Stampe, now vice president of public affairs worldwide at Deere & Co., advised students to get out and meet people in the community. "I am very hopeful this facility and all the activity that goes on here will be another way" the university can bring people together, Stamp said.

What Stamp said what made the incubator attractive to him was it gave students an opportunity to try their ideas before moving into the private sector. "This moves it out of the classroom and into the lab and says 'Let's see if we can prove the economic model we're dreaming about,'" Stamp said.

Plans are to dedicate the center late next summer so it will open in the fall 2014 semester, he said. "It's also part of us, as a university, wanting to make an investment in the downtown Broadway corridor. It will be a really nice addition to the efforts being made along Broadway and it provides a step in the right direction … to continue to improve the downtown area," Stapleton said.

Saturday's event was part of Southeast Entrepreneurship Week, President Kenneth Dobbins said. The week is aimed at reminding people of the importance of entrepreneurship and that it's a mindset of thinking outside the box and being creative.

"It's also a time to celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni, like Charlie Stamp," Dobbins said.

rcampbell@semissourian.com

388-3639

Pertinent address: 612 and 616 Broadway, Cape Girardeau

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