[Photo Credit: Center on Rural Innovation]

$600,000 Awarded to Codefi Foundation for Innovate SOMO Expansion

What a start to 2023! In January, we were so grateful to be selected for a $1.5 million award1 from the Missouri Department of Economic Development for Workforce Training. We’re honored to announce that we have been awarded $600,000 from the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC)2 for the expansion of the Southern Missouri Innovation Network (Innovate SOMO)3 in partnership with efactory.4 The funding will specifically be going towards work that is focused on creating more funding and investment opportunities5 for early-stage high-growth tech startups to launch and grow in Southern Missouri, and to help support those founders and companies by lowering barriers and increasing accessibility to support resources.

We have said it for years and want to use this opportunity again to emphasize that Codefi would not be where it is today without the early and continued support of MTC. Every one of our staple programs, from the 1ST50K Startup Competition6 launched in 2015, to Code Labs7 launched in 2017, to the Youth Coding League8 launched in 2018, were initially started by our own dollars—literally either our own cash and countless hours of work, or very generous donors who wanted to support these efforts—and once we proved they were making a positive impact, we’d request MTC’s support to help fuel further growth. Each of those programs have gained national recognition for our region and created significant economic impact, in terms of new companies starting or relocating here and new high-wage jobs being created.

The efactory. [Photo Credit: efactory]

Organizations such as MTC are vital to a healthy and prosperous startup ecosystem. Unfortunately, Missouri lags behind all surrounding states when it comes to public dollars invested in innovation and entrepreneurship. Organizations such as SEMO Redi9 have helped share more about the stagnant and declining quality of life,10 especially for Southeast Missouri, and efforts underway to address those historical and systemic issues. Data-driven strategic planning such as the Catalyzing Innovation Report11 will hopefully guide our leaders to envisioning the substantial economic impact that investing in such activities could have for our communities. When we see success stories of companies such as PumpTrakr,12 Swipesum,13 Sho.ai,14 Transition,15 and Sizze,16 of people getting jobs,17 and of students getting excited about STEM education,18 all around our region, we can’t help but be optimistic about our future.

As always, we are so very grateful to have been chosen and entrusted with these funds and will work diligently to make sure we are the best stewards of any public dollars that support our work, so that we provide the greatest return on economic impact investment. Be on the lookout as we begin to roll out and announce new initiatives and partnerships, support services, and enhance existing programs.

Keep up, if you can!

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