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Southeast Unveils Plans For State-Of-The-Art Business Incubator

Jacob McCleland

A state-of-the-art business incubator is coming to downtown Cape Girardeau.

Southeast Missouri State University officials broke ground for the Creative Labs and Industries Incubator Saturday morning at 612 and 616 Broadway.

The incubator will provide space for students, faculty and community members to develop businesses. It will have 3D modeling and printing equipment, letter press printmaking, art studios, web and app development, a coffee bar and more. It’s designed to bring students into contact with community entrepreneurs, and to put creative and technologically-savvy individuals into the same room.

James Stapleton is the director of Southeast’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He said it’s critical to provide these services to help individuals start businesses and develop innovative ideas.

“I think the modern incubator, especially the new generation of the incubator that we are going to be building here is what communities really have to depend on to start to bolster their economies,” Stapletons said. “The old days of attracting large industrial employers, that’s become very, very difficult.”

Stapleton said the building’s renovation should be complete within nine to twelve months. He estimates the total cost of the incubator to fall between $1.5 and $2 million.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development approved a $500,000 community development block grant for the project. 

Charles Stamp, Jr. is a Southeast graduate and a vice president for Deere & Company, and he is a major benefactor for the project. He said the entrepreneurial mind identifies opportunities and makes the most of it.

“But [they] may or may not have the skill sets himself or herself to get it done,” Stamp said. ”Software technology is one area that comes to mind. When the technical people, the engineering people, the disciplinarians in these sciences buy into the opportunity presented, it’s quite exciting.”

Southeast president Ken Dobbins said the program will provide a model for the future of multidisciplinary and experiential learning, that will connect “the students and practitioners in a lot of creative and innovative disciplines, who a lot of times really function in silos. And that’s what this building is going to do - break down those silos,” Dobbins said.

The incubator will also have retail space to allow entrepreneurs the chance to test the market for their product.