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Business Incubator Hopes to Bring Enterprise, Development to Downtown Springfield

The eFactory opened its doors to small business owners this week. Photo credit: Missouri State Unversity

Missouri State University's IDEA Commons now includes the ""eFactory," a small business incubator designed to help entrepreneurs launch their careers. After two years of planning and construction, the eFactory's doors are open for business. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has more.


Trying to avoid injury, small business owner Claire Faucett talks with KSMU on her cell phone as she sidesteps a construction worker carrying a ladder on the way to her new office.

“I tried to go through the front door, but I had to turn around and go through a side door there. They’re finishing the front."

Faucett is the owner and chief strategist of engage5w, a social media marketing and public relations agency. She is one of many small business owners who moved into the renovated office space this week.

The building, formally Willow Brook Foods, now stands as MSU’s Robert W. Plaster Center for Enterprise and Business Development, or the eFactory. The space is part of IDEA Commons, which is a collaborative effort bringing together corporations, the university, lofts, non-profits and retail space to promote economic development.

This business incubator gives entrepreneurs a chance to rent affordable office space downtown, and provides them professional guidelines and advice. Faucett says it was too good of a deal to resist.

“I mean, you have a great location, but then the idea that you’re not necessarily all alone in this endeavor, you have a support system in place that when you have a question about accounting, when you have a question about, ‘what do I do now?’ that just down the hall there’s even a chamber office over here. It’s a very unique environment.”

The person in charge of the project is Allen Kunkel, MSU’s associate vice president of economic development. He says a range of services will be provided within the incubator, including help from the Small Business Technology and Development Center, the Management Development Institute, Missouri Enterprise, and others.

“The SCORE Chapter has a location there. We’re going to support the Springfield Angel Network through the facility. So all those services are on site, as well as just a one lump sum charge for tenants. They get access to all the conference facilities, meeting room spaces, utilities are included, phone, internet access, receptionist…all those are included in a one-month sum charge.”

He says local entrepreneurs can use these services to jump-start their business and, in turn, jump-start even more economic opportunities downtown.

“I think it’s an opportunity for an entrepreneur to get a good start and build a strong business over a period of time. We’re targeting three to five years, and then once they’re strong enough, launch them into the community where they can eventually keep growing and produce jobs for the community.”

Claire Faucett is just as excited. She says the incubator makes a great alternative to her home office. It doesn’t help business, she says, when clients call and they can hear the dog barking, or kids in the background.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.