Show-Me Innovation and OzSBI
By Heather W. Fisher
West Plains, OzSBI, and two businesses launched from OzSBI, Midwest Mobile Imaging and Wages Brewing Company, recently were featured in a PBS program called “Show-Me Innovation.” Entrepreneurs throughout Missouri were the focus of the show, funded by Missouri Department of Economic Development and put together by Channel 9 PBS St. Louis. If you happened to miss “Show-Me Innovation” when it aired on Ozarks Public Television this month, you still can see the show by going to the webpage where it lives at http://www.ninenet.org/show-me-innovation/.
There’s good reason to watch it.
From minute 13 on, the program focuses on business development in rural areas. OzSBI, as the ninth incubator in the state and one of a handful located in rural communities, was chosen for the program because it is recognized as a model rural business incubator. Through mentoring, business workshops, affordable all-inclusive office space and microloans, OzSBI has helped start over 70 new companies and create over 235 new jobs in just five years.
“Show-Me Innovation” also tells the story of a fast-growing startup business in rural northwestern Missouri, the Missouri Star Quilt Company. Just a few years ago, Hamilton, MO, a town of 1,800, was just another forlorn rural town full of empty buildings. That all changed when Jenny Doan became a YouTube star with her how-to-quilt videos. Mix in pre-cut fabric bundles with over a million views of Doan’s tutorials, and the Missouri Star Quilt Company was born. It now employs 180 people. Additionally, over a dozen complimentary businesses have sprung up around it. This is the story of one community finding its industry niche and running with it.
What makes this story so interesting is that the long-arm quilting machines, which are the backbone of the Missouri Star Quilt Company are Gammill machines are produced right here in West Plains. Hamilton’s rebirth would not have been possible without Gammill. I wonder what business start-ups are in our future, hidden now, but poised to give new life to our community?
We hope to spotlight some of these new businesses and fast-growing startups on May 2nd with EPIC17, OzSBI’s BIG small-business celebration. This half-day event will future keynote speakers and successful entrepreneurs from around our region, like Sun Solar, which was listed in INC magazine’s 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States. Six budding entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses, “Shark Tank”- style, for a chance to win cash and mentoring to grow their company. To get all the event details about EPIC and to register visit www.ozsbi.com .