Shaun Sappenfield, existing business manager with the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, says, “The majority of any community’s jobs come from small business — you need to have a good, solid mix of small businesses with the larger existing businesses, which we have for our community.”
For the past seven years, the chamber has worked to connect with entrepreneurs and startups through StartUp JC. Two events, Pitch It & Win It and Encouraging Entrepreneurship, help connect people with resources to launch their business.
“These two events bring attention to potential resources out there and let folks know they can come to the chamber to help answer their questions or help them partner with other groups,” says Shaun. “It’s a nice asset because it creates a space to go and it’s a free service.”
StartUp JC also partners with the Lincoln University Small Business Development Center, Rural Missouri Inc., and the Missouri Women’s Business Center to assist entrepreneurs and startups. In addition, entrepreneurs can reach out to specific individuals and seek one-on-one guidance through StartUp JC.
Campus Coworking Space, the first coworking space in Jefferson City, provides another valuable resource for entrepreneurs. “We were inspired by a growing and evolving 1 Million Cups community,” says Missy Creed McFerron, co-owner of Campus Coworking Space. “1 Million Cups is a free, national program designed to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs. It’s a completely free program started by the Kauffman Foundation, and we saw the need and benefit for Jefferson City to offer entrepreneurs in our area a space where they can work together, share amenities, and gather.”
Missy adds that the space can be an asset for entrepreneurs who often miss out on the camaraderie that an office setting brings. “Coworking solves those problems,” she says. “Secondly, for businesses just starting out, commercial offices are often outside of their budgets, and working temporarily from coffee shops doesn’t fit their needs for fiber internet or general office activities like printing. That’s where we can help. Our members can enjoy 24/7 access, included office supplies, free printing, and all the coffee they need. Yes, need.”
They also support young entrepreneurs by helping them on their online store, MO Swag, which can be found at jeffcityblog.com.
“If you’re an entrepreneur, remote worker, or on travel for business and need a place to plug in, connect to fast internet, and be productive, visit us at 609 E. High St. and drop by for the day,” adds Missy.