Southeast Missouri State University
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DELTA REGIONAL AUTHORITY GRANTS TO BOOST GREENHOUSE, ENTREPRENEURIAL TRAINING AND MICRO-LOAN PROGRAMS

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Nov. 22, 2002 - Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, today expressed gratitude to U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond for his work in securing $200,000 in federal funds for a new University greenhouse facility and another $200,000 to create an Entrepreneurial Training and Micro-Loan Program for small businesses in the region.

"We are so appreciative of the work Senator Bond has done on behalf of the University in assisting us with federal funding for these worthwhile projects," Dobbins said. "During a time of severe budget constraints in the state of Missouri, federal funding is especially important to continue to move this University and its initiatives forward, particularly in the Delta region that we serve."

Greenhouse Funding

Bond announced Thursday that the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) has approved a $200,000 grant to Southeast to build a greenhouse that will enhance the school's existing rice research effort and other life science initiatives.

Plans call for building a new greenhouse complex at Southeast. The first phase of the expansion calls for a new 11,000-square-foot greenhouse plus a head house (work building) to accompany it. The second phase calls for building a classroom laboratory building, an arboretum, walkways and turf management facilities.

Total cost of the first phase of the project is $650,000. The Delta grant is supplemented by private donations and funds from the Southeast Department of Agriculture. With yesterday's $200,000 grant award announcement, funding for the first phase is now complete.

"This is a very, very critical first step in us increasing our focus in the plant life sciences and our horticulture program," said Dr. Randy Shaw, dean of the School of Polytechnic Studies. "A new greenhouse will go a long way toward enhancing the Department of Agriculture. We will now be able to involve students in our rice breeding program year round. This grant is just a godsend for us."

Shaw says construction of the new greenhouse will begin next year and is expected to be complete in time for the start of the fall 2003 semester. Fund raising for the second phase of the project will continue.

A new state-of-the-art greenhouse facility is expected to give students experience by being the producer, from planting to sales. The current greenhouse has about 5,500 square feet. The new greenhouse would be located on a 17-acre plot behind the University's new softball fields at Bertling and Sprigg, with access from Bertling.

"The program has outgrown its present greenhouse along New Madrid Street, west of the Student Recreation Center," said Dr. Wes Mueller, chair of the Southeast Department of Agriculture, "This will allow us to build one twice the size."

University officials say the plant life science and horticulture programs are expanding because of increased student interest and the increasing importance of the industry to Missouri. The program is important to incoming students, people working in the industry seeking continuing education opportunities and also those who want to be better gardeners and landscapers.

Funding for Entrepreneurial Training and Micro-Loan Program

Bond also announced yesterday that the Delta Regional Authority is awarding a $200,000 grant to Southeast to create an Entrepreneurial Training and Micro-Loan Program for small businesses in the region. The University will supplement the grant.

Dr. Gerald McDougall, dean of the Donald L. Harrison College of Business, said, "We are especially pleased to receive this grant because the Harrison College of Business has made significant efforts to create stronger linkages with the business community and to bring our knowledge into that community. This grant will allow us to provide specific training for emerging and small businesses and to provide them with some financial loan assistance. This gives us the means to make a significant impact on small business throughout Southeast Missouri."

Of the $200,000, two-thirds will be used to provide entrepreneurial training to residents throughout Southeast Missouri. The University's Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Small Business Management will deliver the training programs in conjunction with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southeast Missouri State University. Interested individuals in Southeast Missouri may enroll in nine- and 12-session "FastTrac" programs developed through the Ewing Kauffman Foundation. The courses will be delivered both in traditional and interactive television classroom settings and will be designed for both aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business people.

"This will give them the foundation to successfully start a new business," said Buz Sutherland, director of the SBDC at Southeast, adding that poor planning is the number one cause of small business failure.

The entrepreneurial training program will help individuals in evaluating the feasibility of their business concept and get them started in carrying it forward. The in-depth, comprehensive training will be available through the University's outreach centers and through the Telecommunications Community Resource Centers in Poplar Bluff, Portageville and Park Hills, Mo.

The entrepreneurial training program is expected to begin next spring.

"This will create access to a very successful and proven entrepreneurial training program," Sutherland said. "It will really stimulate entrepreneurial development in the Delta region and increase the probability for success."

The remainder of the $200,000 grant will be used for a micro-loan program. Graduates of the entrepreneurial training program will be eligible to apply for micro loans, up to $5,000, to assist them in getting their new business started.

Dr. Jack Sterrett, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Small Business Management, said the grant will go a long way toward extending entrepreneurship throughout this area.

"This is incredible news," he said. "This Delta Regional Authority grant award is a tremendous vote of confidence and support by Senator Bond of Southeast's current programming and efforts in the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Small Business Management to broaden understanding, build awareness, and to further disseminate and advance entrepreneurship throughout the University's service region. The Delta Regional Authority grant will, in affect, provide the resources that will serve as a catalyst to establish and broaden entrepreneurial training and financial assistance to a number of emerging and small businesses within the Southeast Missouri area, resulting in positive community and regional economic development. I am pleased and thankful."

Sutherland says Bond's efforts in assisting the University in securing this grant from the Delta Regional Authority are to be commended.

"Senator Bond and his staff have always been friends of small business," he said. "On the Senate Small Business Committee, he has played a pivotal role in small business development, not only in Missouri, but across the country."

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership designed to remedy severe and chronic economic distress by stimulating economic development and fostering partnerships that will have a positive impact on the region's economy. The DRA helps economically distressed communities to leverage other federal and state programs which are focused on basic infrastructure development and transportation improvements, business development and job training services.

 

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