It takes intentional and strategic maneuvers by the community to fuel economic growth.
Today Codefi was selected in a highly-competitive state program to receive an investment of $2.1 million through Missouri Department of Economic Development’s Community Revitalization grant program (funded through the American Rescue Plan Act).
The grant funds were matched with $2.1 million committed by the project sponsors and founders of the recently established Southern Missouri Innovation Network (Innovate SOMO), which is a collaboration between the Codefi Foundation on Rural Innovation and the efactory at Missouri State University, two of the state’s most successful innovation hubs.
“On the heels of one of the most difficult economic periods in our state’s history, it’s important to continue to invest in the many small and new businesses that provide the majority of our employment and new jobs,” said Dr. James Stapleton, founder of Codefi. “The many partners in this project across southern Missouri are excited to get to work supporting our entrepreneurs and innovators.”
Codefi and efactory regularly partner to accelerate innovation, workforce growth and economic development throughout southern Missouri.
“We want to thank Governor Parson, Director Kost, Mr. Burner and the DED team for their investment in small business support services through this award,” said Rachel Anderson, executive director of efactory. “We are humbled and excited with the growing momentum behind the Southern Missouri Innovation Network.”
The three-year, $4.2 million project expands access to nationally recognized programs across a vast regional network. The project will connect unemployed and low-to-moderate income individuals and small businesses impacted by COVID to the many resources needed to launch, grow and rebuild successful businesses to create high quality jobs, increase sales and revitalize a more resilient economy.
“We are excited to expand the business support and training services offered through the efactory and Missouri Small Business Development Center at Missouri State,” said Chrystal Irons, director of the Missouri SBDC at MSU. “The collaboration of our SBDC network and other resource partners will allow us to accelerate economic growth and impact small businesses across the Innovate SOMO network.”
Building blocks for growth
Through the first three years of Innovate SOMO, it’s estimated that more than 700 new high-wage digital jobs will be created, as well as more than 150 new businesses.
The program’s success is built upon the ability of the efactory and Codefi’s to build networks of resources that fulfill needs like:
- Youth coding education.
- High school and adult digital skills training in software development and cybersecurity.
- Experiential learning opportunities, internships, apprenticeships and mentorship.
- Startup assistance, including training, consulting, incubator space and accelerator opportunities.
- Access to capital and education on investor development, grants and loans.
About Innovate SOMO
Innovate SOMO is adapting an entrepreneurship pipeline model that increases access to the programs, resources and capital needed by small business and tech startup entrepreneurs to successfully start and accelerate the growth of more companies.
Innovate SoMo is 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.
About the Community Revitalization Grant Program
The Community Revitalization Grant Program was launched in September 2022. The program awarded competitive grants to applicants, including municipalities, counties, and nonprofit organizations, to benefit households, communities, and small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant awards will fund a variety of projects, such as downtown property renovations, business skills training, homelessness prevention, and more.