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Utilizing local resources to grow businesses

By Nicki Donnelson

When efactory opened 10 years ago, it started as an incubator space and a place for small businesses to grow. At that point, we never envisioned how much growth we could have in the next decade.
By physically expanding into additional locations and adding new services and missions, we now serve small, growing and large businesses in a multitude of ways.

Business owners can speak to our business consultants to develop financial projections, business strategy, marketing plans and more. Through our mentorship network, you can gain specific advice into legal matters, human resources, insurance issues as well as other areas concerning your business.

Meet our resource partners
The business consultants and mentors also act as a referral hub for other resources, many which also occupy space at efactory, like:
APEX Accelerators
Missouri Enterprise
Missouri Department of Economic Development
Multicultural Business Association
Springfield Tech Council
UniteNews Online

These resources provide guidance on processes that are often stumbling blocks, assist business owners on a variety of topics and serve as a connection to additional networking opportunities.

Take Angela Stephens, for example. She’s the founder and CEO of RE-FOCUS THE CREATIVE OFFICE, and she wanted to launch her products on a large scale. She connected with efactory and APEX Accelerators about government contracting and gaining certification as a Women Owned Small Business, giving her entry into new markets and greater exposure.

“It’s tough sometimes, to know what you need to know. But it’s my job as a CEO to find out the resources that we have,” Stephens said. “I’m so blown away by efactory and wish I’d known about it 30 years ago when I started my first business.”

Building business
Another recent client, Melissa DuVall, is a mother who saw an opportunity to invent a new wearable blanket called Ponchairo. Her son Jace, a Missouri State graduate, introduced her to efactory’s Missouri SBDC at MSU. He learned of the center in his business coursework, and they met with a business consultant on a variety of topics as Ponchairo became a reality.

DuVall’s consultant helped identify manufacturers, put her in touch with resources and introduced her to a marketing professor at Missouri State University who assigned students a course project to develop possible advertising campaigns for her product.
She continues to rely on her consultants’ advice on expansion questions, like whether to pursue sales on Amazon or other big online retailers.

“Lance (Coffman) is going to be a resource for me in that regard, too, because the process for a product that is trademarked is a little more rigorous than maybe for other things,” DuVall said. “To have him as a resource and an advocate, and to know that I could use efactory facilities for meetings and such, it’s great to know I have those options.”

These two stories have much in common. However, their entry points into efactory and what they ultimately needed from us was unique.

Both women are building businesses that are ready to take off.
“I really want to put Springfield, Missouri, on the map and the state of Missouri as a place where innovation is developed from the start,” Stephens said. “We may not be a Bass Pro today but hope one day they will be.”

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