TIPTON, Mo. — Potential entrepreneurs attended the first of four business mixers hosted through the Moniteau County Regional Economic Development Council's Start Up Moniteau initiative Thursday, Sept. 14, in Tipton.
There were 30-somethings and others nearing retirement, men and women, those looking for a second career and those looking for something new.
One entrepreneur shared his story, losing a high-paying job and being unable to find another of equivalent income in the area. Another plans to retire in a few years and wants something to do in retirement.
Whatever their motivation or their business idea, the Start Up Moniteau initiative can help the would-be entrepreneurs get connected with business leaders and professionals who can help them build a successful business plan.
"It's my belief the greatest job growth will come from people with ideas and who will take the risk to start a new business," MRED president Mike Kelley said.
Additional business mixers will be held Oct. 26 at Cargill, Nov. 16 at Advanced Chimney in Jamestown and another in California in December.
For those willing to go to the next phase, Launch U will begin Jan. 9 with classes meeting every Tuesday and Thursday for six weeks. At the end of that time, a pitch competition will award the top two entrepreneurs with incentives to make their plan a reality.
"We want your business here," Corey tenBensel, director of CoMo Electric member care, said. "We'll do what we can to make these businesses viable."
Launch U is a pilot program in Central Missouri by State Fair Community College and the Small Business Development Center. If successful, it may be repeated up to four times a year in a 12-county area.
"It will get you prepared to start your own small business, when you're ready," Kelley said.
Kelly Asbury will lead the Launch U program, which will take up to 20 entrepreneurs in Moniteau County from an idea to a feasible plan.
In addition to the course topics, the program includes one-on-one counseling specific to each entrepreneur's situation and a network of like-minded people to help refine each other's ideas, she said.
"The next step is entirly up to you guys, but I promise you my organization will help you as much as we can," Kelley said.