About Us

Our Mission: Helping Businesses GROW

The Ozarks Small Business Incubator aims to be a community of support for entrepreneurs and business owners at all stages in their business development. Our team of professionals, mentors, successful entrepreneurs and board members surround your emerging business with skills, experience and networks to help you start and accelerate towards success. We support entrepreneurs with an idea to those who want to take an existing business to the next level.

Our clients operate social service businesses, breweries, software companies, salons, manufacturing plants, medical services, IT companies, professional services and more. Their businesses are large and small, new and old. We have helped them build strong companies through mentoring, business trainings, affordable office space and capital.

Coworking Space

Background

OzSBI opened its doors in January of 2012 after the renovation of the Butler Furniture Building in historic downtown West Plains. It was the ninth incubator in Missouri to open and the first rural incubator in the state. It was developed as nonprofit entrepreneurial assistance organization serving Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Shannon, Texas and Wright Counties.

What We Do

Our passion is to help talented local entrepreneurs gain business skills, build relationships, get funded, and grow successful business. Our goal is to improve the economy of the Ozarks by growing businesses that create good jobs, provide new products and services, and pursue innovation. Profitable, sustainable and long-lasting businesses is what we help our clients create.

Our Timeline

2010

After a long application period, several grants are awarded to begin the renovation of the Butler Furniture Building in historic downtown West Plains.

2011

The first Operation Jump Start Class is held at MSU with 15 students.

2012

OzSBI opens its doors in January of 2012 after the first phase of renovation.

2013

Coworking space opens in January and four new store front offices are completed and open for business.

2015

Ten professional business mentors are certified and the OzSBI business mentoring program grows.

2017

The second floor of the incubator is remodeled to include 5 large offices, a meeting room and lobby.

2020

OzSBI launches the Howell County CARES Small Business Relief Grant in partnership with the Howell County Commission. Demand for mentoring and other services increases.

2021

OzSBI partners with Rural LISC and a receives SBA Community Navigator Pilot Program grant, which is used to expand its mentoring services and technical support services.

2022

OzSBI Microloan Fund is recapitalized, increasing the loan limit to $50,000. New OzSBI logo is designed and unveiled. The OzSBI Pop Up Shop opens.

OzSBI wraps up the Community Navigator Pilot Program grant, which provided funding for 600+ hours of free business mentoring, and is awarded a Community Revitalization Grant extending the support for free mentoring through 2026.

Meet Our Team

Heather Fisher

Chief Executive Officer

As the Chief Executive Officer, Heather oversees OzSBI’s strategic development, fundraising and outreach.  She is a certified Business Advisor with GrowthWheel and LaunchU, mentoring small business and facilitating workshops.  Heather moved to the West Plains area in 1998 and with her husband Chrys and has two sons. She has a […]

Ila Sloan

Chief Financial Officer

As the Chief Financial Officer, Ila Sloan manages OzSBI’s microloan programs, the incubator finances, mentors clients and teaches classes. She recently moved to West Plains with her husband Mark from San Antonio, TX and brings with her over 25 years of banking experience. Ila most recently worked for the Bank […]

Autumn Shirley

Business Development Specialist

Autumn Shirley is the Business Development Specialist for the Ozarks Small Business Incubator (OzSBI). She has also served as Chairperson of the Board, the Howell County CARES Grant Administrator, and as a certified Business Advisor through GrowthWheel, LaunchU, and We Love Mentors. Autumn is also the CEO of a software company […]

Gene Weinbeck

Mentor Coordinator

Gene Weinbeck coordinates the mentoring activities at OzSBI, including recruitment, training, and expansion of the program to the surrounding counties.  He moved to West Plains in the early 1980’s for a job that didn’t last.  So, he started a business that became FundRaiser Software, which publishes donor management software for […]

Madison Sutterfield

Program Administrator

Madison Sutterfield is the Program Administrator for the Ozarks Small Business Incubator (OzSBI). She manages OzSBI’s marketing, membership, social media accounts, new tenant set-up, and scheduling of room rentals. Madison is a Missouri native, originally from St.Charles. She currently lives in West Plains with her husband, dog, and cat.

Stephanie Ball

Finance Administrator

As the Financial Administrator, Stephanie Ball assists with maintaining OzSBI’s financial records, processing invoices, and performing data compilation and reconciliation.  She was born in West Plains and has always loved the small town atmosphere. In 2022, Stephanie and her husband Robert sold their small business and she went on to […]

Community Impact

531 New Jobs

Our OzSBI Board

Myles Smith

Board Chair

Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative

Bryan Adcock

Vice Chair

Southern Missouri Community Health Center

John Perkins

Secretary

Recovering Attorney, former Missouri Securities Commissioner

Gabe Chambers

Treasurer

Hawkins, Yarber & Chambers, CPAs

Sam Currier

Member

Thayer Development and Improvement Organization

Mike Ennis

Member

Eminence Mfg INC

Kelly Slayton

Member

Community First Banking Company

Dustin Harrison

Member

City of West Plains

Cheri Combs

Member

Jenny Long

Member

Midwest Counseling & Assessment

OzSBI Resource Partners

The Small Business Development Centers of Springfield and West Plains have partnered with OzSBI at many levels, including funding, workshops, mentor assistance and more. They are a critical resource for small businesses in our area.

Rural LISC supports resilient and inclusive rural communities as great places to live, work, and innovate. They are also OzSBI’s “hub” organization for the Community Navigator Pilot Program, an SBA grant that OzSBI was awarded, which allowed us to offer our mentoring services for free.

New Growth Capital builds the pipeline of bankable rural businesses with micro-enterprise financing and credit building. Beginning in 2023, OzSBI will be hosting a New Growth Capital Credit Building Coordinator in our building to assist individuals seeking loans of up to $5,000.

As both the Designated Economic Development District and the Regional Planning Commission for seven counties in South Central Missouri, SCOCOG is dedicated to providing high quality service that many municipalities and counties expect only from urban centers.  SCOCOG has also partnered with OzSBI to expand our Microloan Fund.

Through the innovations and ideals of the University of Missouri, MU Extension improves lives, businesses and communities by focusing on solving Missouri’s grand challenges around economic opportunity, educational access, and health and well-being.

The APEX Accelerators program assists businesses, including small, disadvantaged, veteran, and women-owned firms, obtain federal, state and local government contracts.

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