CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 1, 2011 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development has awarded the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) a $71,000 grant to assist small businesses impacted by severe flooding earlier this year.
The CIE is calling the initiative Operation ReStart. The grant was formally announced today at Southeast Missouri State University.
Many businesses in southeast Missouri have suffered either directly from flood waters
or indirectly from decreased sales due to other businesses and residents flooded in
2011. The CIE recognized this opportunity to help and will deliver the following services:
Outreach counseling to flood-impacted businesses to reduce the number of business failures in the region;
Outreach counseling to rural businesses to help them maximize the use of broadband to create economic opportunities and expand their markets hurt by flooding;
Offering Operation JumpStart entrepreneurship training in Poplar Bluff, Mo., a city hit hard by flooding, beginning in July to assist those interested in starting new businesses to fill market gaps created by business failures;
Expansion of online resources to help business owners navigate through business interruptions;
Offering webinars on recovery tips after business interruptions, outdoor recreation-focused businesses and expanding broadband market opportunities. Webinars are scheduled for April 18, May 9 and June 13.
“We are very excited to work with the University on this initiative to help businesses in the region recover from the flood and to explore market expansion through the Internet,” said Phyllis Minner, area USDA Rural Development specialist. “Our office is also interested in how Southeast can help stimulate some outdoor recreational businesses because of the wonderful natural resources our area has to offer.”
The USDA Rural Development has provided the CIE funding in the past that has helped dozens of individuals, communities and businesses. At today’s grant announcement, the CIE invited two of those individuals to speak briefly about how former initiatives have been helpful.
Greg Batson, Dexter area manager for USDA Rural Development said, “We were excited to hear first-hand from the ultimate beneficiaries of our programs, the rural business owners in southeast Missouri. Our office is proud to support Operation ReStart to further assist small businesses.”
Today’s announcement was part of a larger event to celebrate the grand opening of ACCION Delta which is providing new microlending possibilities to rural southeast Missouri businesses. Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and associate professor of management at Southeast, said, “We thought it was a great fit to announce this USDA grant at the same time we are celebrating the grand opening of ACCION Delta. The USDA is a strong partner of ours, and ACCION is a new partner, both of which share our mission to initiate and sustain microenterprise activity in southeast Missouri.”
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 economic growth and development that improves the quality of lives, communities and businesses in southeast Missouri and the southeast region.
For more information about this media event or entrepreneurial support services offered by the CIE, contact (573) 651-2929 or visit www.semo.edu/cie.