The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Southeast Missouri State University is collaborating with several partners to host a series of symposia to build entrepreneurial capacity in the eight-state lower Mississippi Delta region. The CIE is joining with the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), the Delta Leadership Network, and the U.S. Small Business Administration to host one symposium in each of the eight Delta states this summer.

Kentucky is the site of the sixth symposium set for Aug. 30–Sept. 1 at the Kentucky Dam Village Conference Center at 113 Administration Drive in Gilbertsville. Ideal participants are those who would like to become certified program administrators and trainers of Operation JumpStart, a national micro-enterprise training program that has been developed by the CIE. Titled “Accelerating Entrepreneurship in the Delta,” the symposium in Kentucky will include information on many resources to help communities, especially rural ones, create systems to support entrepreneurs and the start-up of new businesses.

“We are pleased to offer these symposia and provide resources to organizations throughout the Delta that will lead to an increasing number of new businesses and jobs. We will also be announcing additional value-added programs at these symposia that will help provide the resources aspiring entrepreneurs need to be successful,” says Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the CIE and project director of the initiative.

Loretta Daniel is one of two local coordinators for the Kentucky program. Daniel serves as the director of the Murray State Regional Business and Innovation Center. She said, “Operation JumpStart is an exciting program being offered throughout the Delta Region. We at Murray State University are proud to be a part of this effort to provide training assistance to entrepreneurs in Kentucky.”

Chris Wooldridge is the district director of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center in the Murray State University college of business and is also helping coordinate the symposium. He says, “I am very excited about this event and the opportunity it provides for supporting entrepreneurship development in our communities.”

Mike Marshall, former mayor in Sikeston, Mo., serves as the alternate federal co-chairman for the Delta Regional Authority. He will speak at each symposium about the resources of the DRA and its vision for how the region can “catch up” to the rest of the nation.

Marshall indicated, “Entrepreneurship is a priority of the DRA and we are very excited to partner with the Delta Leadership Network, the SBA and Southeast Missouri State on Accelerating Entrepreneurship in the Delta. I look forward to meeting a lot of new people who will utilize the award-winning Operation JumpStart program to make a very positive impact on the economy in these states.”

Funding for the initiative is provided by the U.S. Small Business Adminstration’s PRIME program. The CIE was the only organization in the nation to be awarded two PRIME grants last year. PRIME funding provides capacity building and technical assistance funding to assist disadvantaged micro-entrepreneurs.

For more information or to register, call (573) 651-5156 or go to www.operationjumpstart.biz. Registration is free to those from DRA counties and is open until Aug. 26.

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