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story.lead_photo.caption Local entrepreneurs and members of the Callaway Chamber of Commerce and Central Missouri Community Action gather to cut the ribbon for the Missouri Women's Business Center. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

On Monday, Missouri Women's Business Center Director Jaime Freidrichs cut the ribbon to officially launch the new program. The ceremony took place at the Callaway County Chamber of Commerce.

"(The Chamber) has done a lot of great work in Callaway County," Freidrichs said. "(The WMBC) is a neat fit into their services, and the economic development of Callaway County."

MWBC is a program of Central Missouri Community Action, a non-profit working to eliminate poverty in Mid-Missouri. The Callaway County location is its eighth.

CMCA director Darin Preis also spoke at the ribbon cutting.

"Opportunities like this one don't happen in a vacuum," he said. "It takes a community to make them happen."

In his view, he said, supporting the growth of women's businesses is an important aspect of helping the economy.

Before and after the ceremony, attendees could tour the MWBC office space, enjoy refreshments and mingle.

The MWBC's space contained several desks and a bouquet of blue flowers — the color of MWBC's logo.

Freidrichs said that the space would have free WiFi. Woman entrepreneurs can visit to work and plan, and one-on-one business counseling sessions will also be available. It'll also be a networking resource.

"The vision for this place is to be a community hub for all kinds of resources," said Kim Barnes, board member at the Show-Me Innovation Center.

Eventually, MWBC will start holding events and workshops.

"We'll get established, and then start seeing what the community needs," Freidrichs said.

Event attendees were enthusiastic about what the center has to offer.

Taija Segelhorst is the vice president at Callaway Bank. She said she'll be helping consult with businesses to help them "figure out what they're doing," and also help them make connections with other business owners and individuals who can help.

"It's a great opportunity to get great minds together for the benefit of everyone," she said.

Barnes addressed the obvious question: Why offer a resource specifically for women?

"In rural areas, in a service-based economy, a higher proportion of businesses are men-driven," she said. "Women can be intimidated by traditional male-dominated activities, such as negotiating a loan."

She said that MWBC doesn't mean to exclude men, and that other Chamber of Commerce resources are open to anyone.

"We want to provide specialized resources (for women) and be welcoming," Barnes added.