Friday, February 18, 2011

Operation Jump Start receives $154K DRA grant; Governor visits Jackson High School

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon paid a visit to Southeast Missouri on Friday … and brought with him some good news for entrepreneurs and students.

The governor visited Southeast Missouri State University in the morning to announce a new Delta Regional Authority grant for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Operation Jump Start program. The grant totals $154,000.

Operation Jump Start is a training program for aspiring entrepreneurs. Since its inception in 2006, the program has provided training for 550 individuals and created 200 small businesses and 350 jobs, according to Southeast Missouri State University.

At the press conference, Governor Nixon lauded the program’s results and encouraged entrepreneurs to seek Operation Jump Start training.

“Operation Jump Start has provided an irreplaceable bridge to entrepreneurship and successful businesses and we’re going to continue to do what we can to continue to use this as a model not only here but in our entire region, and in the entire Delta area and in the state of Missouri,” Nixon said.

The Delta Regional Authority grant will be used to start new training programs in Marble Hill, Ironton, Sikeston, and one still-to-be-decided Bootheel region.

Dr. James Stapleton, the executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, says that Operation Jump Start was created as a way to help disadvantaged, low income, and unemployed individuals develop their own businesses.

All participants prepare a business model, and through a competitive process, the best plans win up to $5000 in start-up grants.

Since its beginning, graduates have gone on to start a wide range of small business ventures.

“We recently talked to a graduate from four years ago that started a car war company that actually manufactures or builds the car washes that we see oftentimes in our neighborhoods. Now they are going statewide,” Stapleton said.” And then there are lots of very small businesses as well. Day cares, salons, and just about every retail business you could think about.”

Stacey Gallaher graduated from Operation Jump Start in 2006. She now owns MB Medical Reimbursement, providing medical billing services for physicians’ office. Gallaher’s business is housed in the small business incubator. She now has three employees now working for her.

“I knew how to do the billing, but I wasn’t aware of what all went in to payroll taxes or a business plan or what banks look at whenever you’re getting a loan for starting up a business. It gave me a lot of confidence and knowledge in that,” Gallaher said.

Asked if she could ever work for a boss again, Gallaher firmly responded, “No.”

“I don’t think I would. I don’t think I could do it. Me and the girls joke about that a lot,” Gallaher said. “I don’t think I could do it.”

The governor later went to Jackson to applaud the school for becoming an A+ school and to lay out his plan for an overhaul of A+ scholarship program.

The governor’s proposal would make A+ scholarships available to student who meet certain requirement yet do not attend A+ schools. At the onset, Nixon wants to target students from families who earn less than $55,000 per year.

“While we continue to push all the schools to get A+, we want to start especially with the students who are in very challenged environments, who have very challenged economic status, and take that sliver. If those students are able to perform at the A+ level in those schools while they are attempting to get that certification, it’s my view that they should be eligible to get that A+ program during that time frame,” Nixon said.

Nixon has already set aside $1 million in his budget for the proposal, so he claims that funding should not be an issue if it successfully navigates the General Assembly.

“That investment, our statistics show, will allow us to expand access to more than 700 high achieving students next year. And that will be a tremendous return on investment for students that couldn’t afford to move forward but for that help,” the governor said.

School requirements for the A+ program include satisfactory grades, attendance of 95 percent, excellent citizenship, and at least 50 hours of tutoring or mentoring.

Jackson was certified as an A+ school at the end of the last school year.

Jacob McCleland, Katie Long, and Rachel Weatherford - KRCU


Honestly, I have a relative that works in
medical billing. She hates her job. She's head of her department and all they do is sit on a computer and type numbers 24/7.

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