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Codefi and efactory Create 'Innovate SOMO'; A Southern MO Economic Development, Workforce Network

The Codefi Foundation on Rural Innovation, Inc. has partnered with efactory in Springfield, Missouri. Called the Southern Missouri Innovation Network or SOMO, the first-of-its-kind regional network, the newly-form organization aims to accelerate workforce and economic development in 47 counties across Southern Missouri

The network is being supported by over 100 leading companies and stakeholders in the region and includes strategic partnerships with such schools as the Missouri Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, Southeast Missouri State University, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, and others. When fully funded and implemented, the project is estimated to create over 700 jobs in high-wage occupations such as software development and cyber security, as well as launch over 150 new businesses

Dr. James Stapleton, Co-Founder of the Codefi Foundation, was one of the people in charge of the partnership. He looks forward to not only partnering with the efactory, but also being able to help the people in Southern Missouri, as well as their home locations.

"We get the opportunity to work with one of the best innovation centers in the state of Missouri and really combine our resources, our programs, to better serve not only the citizens in each of our respective home communities but now communities across the region."

Rachel Anderson, Director of efactory at Missouri State University, is a former entrepreneur, as was Stapleton. Anderson has known Stapleton for years, and after sharing data with each other, found they agreed on many things, prompting the two to start their own partnership between their organizations on opposite sides of the state.

"We get to work with a lot of professionals that are starting or growing a business through efactory services. We don't like to say 'No we can't serve you' or 'We can't help you' and think that just the more partnerships that exist, and the more opportunities and resources, the better"

Other speakers and supporters at the Innovate SOMO launch event included Chris Carnell, Co-Founder, Codefi Foundation on Rural Innovation, Inc.; Shad Burner, with the Missouri Dept. of Economic Development and Missouri Technology Corp.; Dr. Mardy L. Leathers, Missouri Office of Workforce Development Director; John Mehner, Assistant Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at Southeast Missouri State University; Leslie Durham, Alternate Federal Co-Chairwoman with the Delta Regional Authority, and Steve Castaner, Regional Representative with the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

 Supporters and attendees at Innovate SOMO Launch at Marquette Tower in Cape Girardeau on 04/08/2022
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Supporters and attendees at Innovate SOMO Launch at Marquette Tower in Cape Girardeau on 04/08/2022

Codefi teaches skills to prepare technicians for entry-level jobs in a span of one year. Stapleton says that by partnering with SEMO, students will be encouraged to take their courses in a specific tech field, with the possibility of being awarded school credits, and eventually earning degrees or certificates.

Recent grant awards from the Missouri Technology Corporation to both Codefi and efactory, as well as grants from the Delta Regional Authority and Catalyze Education Challenge made the recent partnership between the two hubs on opposite sides of Missouri possible.

According to Codefi, the launch of 'Innovate SOMO' is only one of several announcements the partnership will share in the coming weeks. The efactory will also welcome Codefi to Springfield for an event on Thurs. May 19. They also plan to unveil a regional tour of roundtable events in partner communities across southern Missouri "to provide details about programs and resources, identify additional gaps in local needs to work across the network to acquire the resources to fill them", stated in an announcement after the event on April 8th.