CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 1 -- At a ribbon cutting ceremony on Dec. 1, it was announced that ACCION Delta, a partnership between microlending industry leader ACCION Texas Inc. and the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University, is now providing affordable capital to startups and small businesses in the Missouri and Kentucky Delta region. ACCION Delta’s new regional office is located at the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) in Cape Girardeau.
Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and assistant professor of management at Southeast expressed his enthusiasm for the unique partnership.
“We continue to dedicate ourselves to increasing the capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship in southeast Missouri and throughout the Delta region,” he said. “We are working with federal, state, and local partners to create entrepreneurial systems that will lead to an increased number of new ventures being created in our rural communities. ACCION’s expertise in providing affordable capital to individuals who do not have access to traditional funding sources is an exciting addition to our small business development infrastructure.”
During the ceremony, Janie Barrera, president & CEO of ACCION Texas praised the CIE for its efforts, “We are excited to be working with an organization with a proven track record of entrepreneurship training. Research indicates that at least 1.8 million low-income entrepreneurs do not have access to microfinance products. ACCION Texas Inc. is responding to the growing need, especially with current economic conditions that have made access to credit even more difficult.”
The ACCION Delta target area mirrors the 252 counties that comprise the federally designated Delta Regional Authority. The DRA describes stark disparities between the Delta Region and the nation. As defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, virtually all the counties and parishes in the region are distressed. U.S. Census figures indicate that population levels in many DRA counties and parishes peaked before 1980 and most have per capita income levels at or below the national average. The poverty rate in the region is 55 percent higher than the national rate.
Since 1994, ACCION has made 12,000 loans totaling more than $116 million. ACCION now is lending in eight states – Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas. With the opening of the new location, ACCION, brings its innovative and proven “blueprint” for establishing microlending and small business programs to the Delta areas of Missouri and Kentucky.
Craig Bohnsack will serve as the area’s loan officer. Bohnsack was in the banking industry for more than a decade, with his last position as a commercial lender for a regional financial institution. He holds a bachelor’s degree in financial economics and a master’s degree in business administration, both from Southeast Missouri State University. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (573) 587-0908.
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 accelerating economic growth and development that improves the quality of lives, communities and businesses in southeast Missouri and the southeast region.
For more information about the CIE and the entrepreneurial support services it offers, contact (573) 651-2929 or visit www.semo.edu/cie.