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efactory Celebrates Banner Year and Announces Partnership with Codefi to Bring Nationally-Recognized Tech Training Programs to Southwest Missouri

Read the recap from our recent event that included a celebration of 2021’s biggest wins along with the announcement of new partnerships and programs.

Heads Up: There’s a lot of great info to take in here! Read the full story or jump to the section of your choosing using the menu below.

Celebrating Success & Economic Impact

Our programs, team, and the businesses we serve accomplished incredible things in 2021. Client companies secured more than $7 million in investment and created more than 300 new jobs throughout Southwest Missouri. Our programs engaged with nearly 1,800 training participants, connected to tomorrow’s workforce through course partnerships and hands-on learning opportunities, and expanded our coworking space to meet increased demand.

2021 also included the launch of exciting initiatives such as Supercharge SWMO and the successful transformation of 4,000+ square feet into a state-of-the-art training and collaboration space known as the Jay Wasson Idea Loft. This impact and energy from 2021 will be magnified in 2022, as our programs enter into new partnerships, announce new programs, and celebrate even more wins for our region and state.

“It’s incredible to take stock of everything our clients and team achieved in 2021,” said Chrystal Irons, Director of the Missouri SBDC at MSU. “From assisting childcare providers across the state to helping employers address real-time workforce challenges, our programs moved quickly to meet the needs of businesses. This important work will continue in 2022 with increased impact through several exciting new partnerships.”

New Partnerships and Programs

At the efactory we believe in dreaming big and setting ambitious goals. We believe in community and momentum. And we believe in the power of partnerships to advance our region and state. 

“I am incredibly proud of our team, our members, our partners and our community for being so entrepreneurial and innovative. Our region has a long-standing history of collaboration and partnerships. It’s something we take to heart at the efactory, which makes celebrating so special. I am more excited for the future and what’s next for our region than ever before,” said Rachel Anderson, Director of the efactory.

Following the successful launch of Innovate SOMO, a Southern Missouri Innovation Network, that took place in Cape Girardeau in April, efactory and Codefi teams hosted a special event in Springfield on May 19th to publicly unveil additional details of our expanded partnership. Nearly 200 partners, members and community stakeholders were in attendance to hear from speakers including: 

Rachel Anderson – Director, efactory at Missouri State University

Dr. Jim Baker – Vice President of Community and Global Partnerships, Missouri State University and Board Member, Missouri Technology Corporation

Chris Carnell – Co-Founder, Codefi Foundation on Rural Innovation, Inc.

Steve Castaner – Economic Development Representative – Iowa & East/Central Missouri, U.S. Economic Development Administration

Chrystal Irons – Director, Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University

Allen Kunkel – Associate Vice President for Economic Development, Missouri State University and Director, Roy Blunt Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC)

Stacy Lane – Director, Codefi Youth Coding League

Mary Rajek – Strategic Advisor – Federal Initiatives, Missouri Dept. of Economic Development

Dr. James Stapleton – Co-Founder, Codefi Foundation on Rural Innovation, Inc.

Zach Young – Senior Software Developer, Codefi Foundation on Rural Innovation, Inc.

The creation of the Southern Missouri Innovation Network (Innovate SOMO) positions our network to expand and accelerate access to the resources that companies and employees need to grow and thrive in the digital economy. 

As part of that partnership and thanks to a Missouri Technology Corporation MOBEC award, we’re excited to launch two nationally-recognized training programs in Southwest Missouri.

“As identified in the Catalyzing Innovation Report released by Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) in February, one of the organization’s strategic initiatives moving forward is to continue to foster regional efforts to provide quality entrepreneurial support services to high-potential, high-growth, traded-sector startups,” said Jack Scatizzi, Executive Director of Missouri Technology Corporation. “Subsequently, MTC awarded MOBEC grants to efactory and Codefi to fund the expansion of entrepreneurial support and workforce development programs across southern Missouri. Both organizations have an excellent track record of delivering regional entrepreneurial support services that help companies grow and create new high-paying jobs within the state, so MTC is excited to see what economic development benefits the formal partnerships can achieve.”

Code Labs: No-Cost Software Development Training Programs for Adults

Code Labs is a tech education and on-the-job training program provided by experienced software developers to adults in communities across Southern Missouri and West Kentucky. The program gives individuals access to the skills, practical experience, and job readiness needed to prepare for high-salary, high-quality software developer jobs.

Driven by the needs of regional employers, the Code Labs program provides employable entry-level skills and real-world experiences with pathways to employment, training, and education options. The program includes courses that cover front-end, back-end and database development, ensuring that graduates have a well-rounded skill-set and are prepared to enter the workforce. The program requires zero coding experience and is offered at no charge to participants. 

Code Labs’ front-end development course in Springfield will be held August 15 – December 16, 2022 on Monday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the efactory. 

Youth Coding League: Coding Education for Students

The Youth Coding League is an after-school program for middle school students (5th and 6th grades) and junior high school students (7th and 8th grades) using Google’s CS First curriculum and the Scratch programming language.

The Youth Coding League provides support to schools with stipends and training for teachers, dedicated Youth Coding League staff, and an innovative, competitive element and dedicated website at YouthCodingLeague.com. And while the software development industry tends to be 80/20 in terms of male/female professionals, Youth Coding League enjoys a 50/50 male/female split in participants.

We believe we can build better things together that will benefit our region and state,” said James Stapleton, Ph.D., Cofounder of Codefi. “We have seen first-hand the incredible impact of these programs and are excited to bring them to Springfield. By connecting and combining our collective talents and resources across the region and state, we can scale up the delivery of innovative workforce and business development programs and investments that will accelerate the growth of high-wage jobs and the businesses and organizations who create them.

Through a special partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield, Youth Coding Leagues will launch at eight BGC sites when school kicks off in the fall of 2022. Designated Boys and Girls Club sites include:

Fremont Unit at Fremont Elementary School

Henderson Unit at Grant Beach Park

McGregor Unit at McGregor Elementary School

Musgrave Unit at Zagonyi Park

O’Reilly Unit at Williams Elementary School

Sertoma Unit at Sherwood Elementary School

Stalnaker Unit at Smith Park

Teen Program Team

“We are beyond excited for this partnership. It gives our Club members the opportunity to engage in a meaningful, innovative program. Youth Coding League’s mission aligns with the mission of the Club and we can’t wait to work together to provide equitable access to opportunity for the kids who need us most.”
Brandy Harris
Chief Executive Officer, Boys and Girls Club of Springfield

Other regional schools that will host YCL programs in the fall include Buchanan Intermediate School in Branson, MO; Cedar Ridge Intermediate School in Branson, MO; Hickory Hills Middle School in Springfield, MO and Pershing Middle School in Springfield, MO.

Codefi Programs Continue Southwest Missouri Expansion in Partnership with Crowder College

Codefi’s expansion into Springfield is only one piece of Innovate SOMO’s important work to catalyze workforce and economic development across Southern Missouri. Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri was chosen as one of sixteen nation-wide recipients of the Catalyze Challenge Grant among over 300 applicants. The $450,000 grant will allow for expansion of both Code Labs and Youth Coding League programs through a proposal titled, “Creating Digital Pathways in the Rural Heartland.”   

Crowder College will coordinate the pilot project through two high school career and technical education centers while working with Codefi partners. The grant will also fund the creation of competitive youth coding leagues in multiple middle schools and junior high schools also in partnership with Codefi.

“We appreciate the Catalyze Challenge group, Walton Family Foundation, Charter School Growth Fund, and American Student Assistance for this opportunity to develop digital talent for the rapidly growing digital economy,” stated Dr. Chett Daniel, Director of Research and Innovations, Crowder College.

About Innovate SOMO

Recent grant awards from the Missouri Technology Corporation to both efactory and Codefi are empowering the successful innovation hubs to accelerate digital workforce development and job creation and to support the growth of the next generation of industry-leading, high-growth companies in 47 counties across Southern Missouri through a first-of-its-kind partnership known as Innovate SOMO.

The network is being supported by over 100 leading companies and stakeholders in the region and includes strategic partnerships with the Missouri Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, Jordan Valley Innovation Center, Crowder College, Missouri State University, Missouri State University-West Plains, Three Rivers College, Southeast Missouri State University, Mineral Area College, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, as well as support from workforce development, economic development, and Chambers of Commerce across the region.

Following the May 19th announcement, Innovate SOMO Roundtable events will be scheduled with entrepreneurial support organizations, economic development organizations and workforce development partners throughout Southern Missouri. Contact Rachel Anderson or James Stapleton to schedule an event in your community.