Business Notebook: Economic and Business Engagement Center aims to boost economy throughout region

Crystal Jones, director of the Economic and Business Engagement Center, discusses its mission Friday at 920 Broadway in Cape Girardeau.
Fred Lynch

The Economic and Business Engagement Center at 920 Broadway in Cape Girardeau is under the Southeast Missouri State University umbrella, but it serves the 19-county region by encouraging economic development, director Crystal Jones said.

"We have a holistic approach to economic development," Jones said.

The Economic and Business Engagement Center has three arms for development: business, community and workforce.

The business arm, which includes the Small Business and Technology Development Center, or SBTDC, is geared toward helping entrepreneurs get started, and helping businesses grow.

One program, LaunchU, is a four-week course designed to help participants build a feasibility plan and a business plan for a new business, said Gabrielle Penca, project coordinator with the center, who coordinates the LaunchU program.

A poster is seen Friday at the Economic and Business Engagement Center in Cape Girardeau.
Fred Lynch

And if a participant decides not to open a new business, Jones said, that's considered a win, too -- not having to sink the time, expense and emotion into opening a business that might not have been viable is good for the entrepreneur.

The SBTDC also includes an initiative started about a year ago, Jones said: the Agriculture Technology Virtual Incubator, which aims to help producers learn about technology and new techniques available to them -- from Southeast faculty's research to drone technology to remote sensing software.

As for community development, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center arm conducts regional entrepreneurship assessments -- that is, makes note of what is available in a given region and what the gaps are, then makes recommendations on how to maximize efficiency and address any needs.

It is, Jones said, a look at an area's economic ecosystem and ways to help it thrive.

Workforce development falls to Continuing Education, Jones said.

The Economic and Business Engagement Center is seen Friday at 920 Broadway in Cape Girardeau.
Fred Lynch

Traditionally, Continuing Education has offered personal enrichment courses and tours of area historical sites, Jones said.

The plan is to bring more workforce development training programs into play as well.

The center is funded through grants from various agencies, partnerships with businesses, and other sources, Jones said. The Small Business Administration is one contributor, and the Delta Regional Authority is another partner, among others.

For fiscal year 2017, Jones said, 20 new businesses were opened as a result of the center's work.

Additionally, more than 2,100 people attended training sessions in 2017, Jones said.

"We try to give the tools so businesses can develop on their own," Jones said.

Regional Presto-X relocates

Presto-X, a national pest-control company, has relocated its operations offices from Cape Girardeau to a larger facility in Benton, Missouri, at the Interstate 55 interchange, according to a recent news release.

Tom Kelsey, commercial broker with Lorimont Place Ltd., handled the transaction.

The release stated Presto-X provides professional pest-control services throughout Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois, northwest Tennessee and northeast Arkansas. The local service center consists of 14 commercial and residential pest- and termite-control technicians, with a combined 105 years of experience.

Presto-X is one of five brands of Rentokil's North America Pest Control operations, with more than 1,900 colleagues providing regional service to several Midwest and Western states.

Other Missouri offices include St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield.

Ribbon cuttings

Garber's Men's Wear will hold a ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at 2110 Town Plaza Shopping Center in Cape Girardeau.

BOLD Marketing will hold a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. Thursday at 1922 Independence St. in Cape Girardeau.

Business licenses

Michael Folks and Keith Davis applied for a business license to operate Captain D's, a fast-casual seafood restaurant, at 205 S. Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau. Projected open date is listed as Feb. 26.

Amanda Scherer applied for a business license to operate L and A IT Works LLC, d/b/a Computer 21, a computer repair and on-site service business, at 2127 William St. in Cape Girardeau. Opening date was listed as Jan. 1.

(573) 388-3630