Leaders of Callaway's new Show Me Innovation Center are asking area residents to "Give 10 Get 10" to help launch a new business incubator and "help the community grow."
Show Me Innovation board member Kim Barnes started off a capital campaign launch meeting Tuesday by asking and answering the question of "why" she and the other board members believe the Show Me Innovation Center is vital to Callaway County.
"We value our quality of life. Mid-Missouri has not yet seen drastic (economic) declines, but we see the trends ... we want to get out in front of it," Barnes told the capacity crowd that filled the Fulton City Council Chambers. "We want to lead the charge to revitalize our rural economy. If we're successful, we can be a symbol of hope to other areas."
Barnes said the goal of the innovation center is to create a "welcoming, inviting place for entrepreneurs to gather" by providing access to resources, guidance and coaching, training and access to research.
"We believe we can foster a creative atmosphere that helps people succeed," she said.
Barnes talked about the importance of working with area businesses, civic organizations and local governments as well as involving schools.
Speaking further on the importance of working with young people, consultant Sean Siebert, a former Fulton resident, said he has been touring the county over the past several months and has seen many examples of local talent.
Siebert made specific mention of the new fabrication lab at Fulton High School and the opportunities it has provided students there; of South Callaway being one of the only districts in the state to issue iPads to every student and the impact it has had on how students learn and create; of the North Callaway gifted program and its FFA chapter, which he said makes an annual economic impact of $504,000 through students' livestock sales and other projects.
"This county is loaded with an aresenal of talent," Siebert said.
Several local small business owners - Well Read Books owner Brian Warren; Beth Snyder, a co-owner of onecanoetwo Letterpress; and Hannah Taylor, owner of Redo Designs - all shared their small business success stories before Seibert took the podium again to explain the Give 10 Get 10 campaign.
"The idea is if I give $10 and I get 10 more people to give $10, that can generate a lot of cash in a hurry," Siebert said. "We've already secured $5,000 from on agency, an additional $5,000 from another and $10,000 from a third. There's already a substantial investment into this project."
The goal for Give 10 Get 10 is to raise at least $200,000 for the Show Me Innovation Center by Aug. 10.
Board member Bruce Hackmann, also the executive director of the Fulton Area Development Corporation, described the business incubator and its entrepreneurial ecosystem model - designed to create a culture of entrepreneurship that generates employment through start-up companies - as "transformative for Callaway County."
He encouraged those in attendance Tuesday to get behind that transformation.
"We have a lot of enthusiasm, but it's only going to work if there's a groundswell of support," Hackmann said. "We need your help. We want this to be an effort that starts at the very base of this community. Everyone has a stake in this. Callaway County has all of our hearts.
"We love this place and want to make it better. This is a way to do that."
For more information about the Show Me Innovation Center, or to make a donation, visit www.showmeinnovation.org.
Katherine Cummins can be reached at (573) 826-2418 or firstname.lastname@example.org.