James A. Whitt honored for service


James A. Whitt, director of the City of Columbia Supplier Diversity Program, has been selected as a recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Social Action Award by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Statewide Celebration Commission of Missouri. The award publicly acknowledges Jim’s tireless efforts to exemplify Dr. King’s ideals and commitments. The award will be presented to Jim during Missouri’s 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. State Celebration Commission Program. The virtual program will premiere on January 30, 2021.


Congratulations, Jim!

REDI featured in COMO Magazine

REDI was featured in COMO Magazine’s January issue. Read the article below or click to see the article in full at COMOmag.com.



Breaking down the work REDI has been doing for the community for the past 30 years.

Regional Economic Development Inc., known to most people as REDI, is a local collaboration that has worked to benefit the Columbia and Boone County community since its founding in 1988. Yet, many people still ask — what does REDI do?

It’s a complicated question to answer. REDI works with a long list of partners and provides a wide array of programs. Some people may have worked with or known about one of REDI’s programs, but not the others. Or they may have heard the REDI name but not ever understood exactly what we do.

What REDI would like you to know is that all our efforts are designed with one goal in mind — to help create quality, living-wage jobs that provide upward economic mobility for our residents and sustain a dynamic local economy for our community.

How does REDI do This? 

Collaboration is the heart of REDI and all we do. REDI brings together the City of Columbia, Boone County, MU, local businesses, organizations, educational institutions, municipalities, service agencies, and more to coordinate economic development programs that create jobs. Together, all these groups work through REDI to attract new businesses to the area, support existing businesses so they can thrive and expand, and they help entrepreneurs grow startup businesses. These businesses, in turn, create and retain jobs for our community’s residents. And as the employees and employers succeed, they all contribute to the tax base that supports schools, libraries, roads, public safety, and other services.

How is REDI Funded?

REDI’s budget to provide these services is funded through both public and private investments. The City of Columbia provides the REDI staff, who also serve as part of the city’s department of economic development. The city, Boone County, and MU join with many private sector investors – more than 70 in 2020 — to fund REDI’s operations and economic development programs.

Funds invested in REDI make possible REDI’s work in three strategic focus areas: attraction, business retention and expansion, and entrepreneurship.


REDI manages a database of available sites and buildings and assists landowners in acquiring Missouri Certified Site status. When businesses are looking to locate in a community, they generally send a request for proposals outlining what they are looking for in a new site. REDI responds to RFPs, which often require extensive knowledge and information about the availability and cost of infrastructure, including utilities, transportation, and workforce. REDI coordinates site visits when needed and performs due diligence to learn as much as possible about any company that chooses Columbia or Boone County for a new location. When a company decides to locate here, REDI can help the company connect with local providers and state programs to support the company.

Business Retention and Expansion 

REDI works to increase the stability of existing legacy companies. REDI coordinates with local businesses to identify skill gaps and partners with educational institutions to provide labor force training, certification, and degree programs. REDI conducts site visits with area businesses and community leaders to identify and address needs. REDI offers existing businesses the opportunity to share information at REDI Board of Directors meetings and brings together local plant managers. REDI also provides ongoing support to existing businesses, including connections to local and state support.


REDI supports entrepreneurs creating startups, as well as existing and growing small businesses. REDI offers a full-time entrepreneurial coordinator and the Hub co-working space, with programming to provide entrepreneurial resources and support to a diverse clientele. REDI supports the region’s startup ecosystem, and provides offices for the supplier diversity program for minority- and woman-owned business enterprises, the Missouri Women’s Business Center, the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and the Small Business Administration — all right here on site with REDI and the Hub. REDI also promotes grassroots entrepreneurship programs and is assisting with revitalization of The Loop, including providing small-scale manufacturing support and launching a shared commercial kitchen.

REDI’s mission spelled out 30 years ago is still the focus of REDI’s work today: Increase economic opportunities, maintain our community’s superior quality of life, recruit new businesses, retain existing business and assist with expansion, and support new business startups. REDI serves businesses in Columbia and throughout Boone County in ways big and small. Large projects to which REDI lends assistance can be more well-known because they attract media coverage. But equally important is the everyday assistance REDI offers, such as helping businesses find available space, helping employers and educators work together to equip students with skills employers are seeking, connecting businesses to state programs that help with employee training or aid in expansion, providing co-working space for a startup, or helping an entrepreneur find a mentor. These are among the myriad services that provide widespread support to our community businesses and provide its residents with a stable economic base.



Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) announces an additional extension of Public Health Orders, issued by Director Stephanie Browning. These protocols extended through Orders 2020-17 and 2020-17(c) are identical to the six previous orders, and are set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2021, unless otherwise extended, rescinded, or modified. The mask requirement for both the City and County is extended through Jan. 19 with these Orders. Click here to read more and view the orders.

Boone County has contracted with City of Columbia on CARES Act small business funding administration, announcing an award of $495,000 in funding to provide financial support to locally-owned small businesses in Boone County. Funding for the countywide program represents an agreement between the city and county to assist locally-owned small businesses struggling with interruptions in operations due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Administration of the funding will be through the City of Columbia Housing Programs Division. Grants of up to $10,000 per business will be available for businesses with 49 or fewer employees.  Businesses must be locally owned with at least 51% of ownership residing in Boone County.  The application portal is anticipated to be open only two days, December 3-4, 2020. Interested businesses can opens in a new windowregister a username and password in the portal. An informational session will be held December 1, 2020, at 8:00pm via Zoom. Please opens in a new windowregister for the informational session. For more information, please contact Randy Cole at 573.874.6321 or Randall.Cole@CoMo.gov.

Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) Director Stephanie Browning has issued Public Health Orders 2020-15 and 2020-15(c). These orders are an extension of the previous orders and are set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on December 8, 2020, unless otherwise extended, rescinded or modified. All restrictions remain in effect. There are no modifications from the previous orders. Learn opens in a new windowmore about Public Health Orders.

The City of Columbia Housing Programs Division has announced the availability of grant funding for locally owned small businesses with 6 to 49 employees. The Small Business Recovery Loan Program application portal will be open and available to applicants on October 29, 2020, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m..  Eligible businesses may receive a $15,000 forgivable loan to cover business interruption, adaptation and resiliency expenses in response to the impact of COVID-19. opens in a new windowView the list of program guidelines and required application materials.

Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) Director Stephanie Browning has issued Public Health Orders 2020-13 and 2020-13(c). These orders are an additional extension of the previous orders, 2020-11/2020-11(c) and 2020-12/2020-12(c), and are set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 3, unless otherwise extended, rescinded or modified. All restrictions remain in effect. There are no modifications from the previous orders. opens in a new windowLearn more about the modifications and previous orders.

Assistance with utilities is available. View the list of resources.

The opens in a new windowBoone County CARES Act Funding Opportunity website is now available. The site offers information about the CARES Act, links to resources, instructions on how to apply for CARES Act funding, a contact form to request more information, and access to apply for CARES Act funding. The County of Boone has implemented a portal-based application system to streamline applications. The portal is now live and the Boone County Commission is accepting applications for CARES Act funding distributions starting  Tuesday, September 8, 2020. The online portal will allow the Commission to review all applications for funding and allocate the money so as to meet the greatest needs in a manner that is both transparent and accountable.

The City of Columbia Housing Programs Division is offering grant funding for locally owned small businesses with 5 or fewer employees.  The Microenterprise Recovery Loan Program application portal will be open and available to applicants on September 15, 2020 from 8am to 5pm.  Eligible businesses may receive a $5,000 forgivable loan to cover business interruption, adaptation and resiliency expenses in response to the impact of COVID-19. A opens in a new windowlist of program guidelines and required application materials can be found on the opens in a new windowCity’s website. An employee income certification form included as a requirement within the application can also be downloaded and completed prior to the opening of the application portal. opens in a new windowVisit the portal today.

The Missouri Women’s Business Center will present a Small Business Grant Application Bootcamp September 1, 6 – 7:30 p.m., via Zoom. The bootcamp will help you get your paperwork ready to apply for COVID-19 relief grants and other funding opportunities. Registration is required at https://bit.ly/2QrPDpy.

Sean Boshard, SBA Outreach and Marketing Specialist located at REDI, and Tom Daiber, Lead Lender Relations Specialist for the SBA St. Louis district will be conducting two webinars on Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness, September 4 and September 16, 2020, both at 9 a.m. The webinars will be via Microsoft Teams, which has a 250 participant limit. Registration is required. For more information and to register, visit https://pppforgivenessoverview.eventbrite.com  (September 4 session) and/or https://pppforgivenessoverview2.eventbrite.com  (September 16 session)

The City of Columbia and Boone County have issued orders extending Reopening Plan – Phase 2, Step 3, effective August 28, 2020.  Click here for more information.

The City of Columbia will be investing $575,000 in local small businesses and is prioritizing outreach to local minority and women owned businesses. The City is awaiting the release of funds at the federal level and anticipates opening the application process in mid-August.  Please join us the evening of August 6th from 7:30-8:30pm to learn how to navigate the application process and how to find additional assistance. The meeting will be hosted Via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86436300145. Please visit https://www.columbiaredi.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/application_informational_meeting_8-6-20_3.pdf for information about the meeting and what materials are required to apply.

Due to the continued and increasing spread of COVID-19, the City of Columbia has adopted an ordinance requiring face masks to be worn when people are in contact with others who are not household members and social distancing of at least six feet is not possible. Read the ordinance and an FAQ on the ordinance at the following links: City of Columbia Face Mask OrdinanceMask Ordinance FAQ

Boone County residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can now access mental health supports through the University of Missouri Psychological Services Clinic. Adults can receive up to five teletherapy sessions at no cost thanks to funding provided through the Boone County Community Health/Medical Fund. To get connected with services or to learn more, contact the MU Psychological Services Clinic at 573-882-4677, email adpsc@umsystem.edu, or visit https://psychology.missouri.edu/psychological-services-clinic

The University has published The Show Me Renewal plan, outlining the changes to expect for the fall semester, and the impact those changes will have on many aspects of campus life. The plan is a living document, as flexibility and an ability to pivot are essential in this evolving global pandemic. Learn more and read the plan at https://renewal.missouri.edu/

The City of Columbia and Boone County have issued orders for Reopening Plan – Phase 2, Step 3, effective June 23, 2020. This order has been extended until August 10.  Click here for more information.

The City of Columbia and Boone County have issued orders for Reopening Plan – Phase 2, Step 2, effective May 26, 2020.

The City of Columbia and Boone County have issued orders for Reopening Plan – Phase 2, Step 1, effective May 4, 2020.

The City of Columbia offers opens in a new windowcurrent COVID-19/coronavirus information and resource links. The City of Columbia Contact Center is available at 573-874-2489.

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce offers updates and business resources.

The Missouri Women’s Business Center offers help and resources at http://mowbc.org/covid-19-resources/

The City of Columbia Housing Programs Division’s Microenterprise Recovery Loan Program is no longer accepting applications at this time. This program provided fully forgivable loan for qualified local microenterprises with 5 or fewer employees.  Applications opened Wednesday, April 15th. For more information, visit opens in a new windowhttps://www.como.gov/community-development/neighborhoods/housingprogramsdivision/microenterprise-recovery-loan-program/

The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau offers information on local resources as well as information for visitors and Columbia’s tourism partners.

The District provides a list of businesses open, closed and/or offering curbside pickup.

The Loop provides a list of Loop business who are providing food delivery, curbside pickup, phone consultations and online shopping. Additional information is available at the Loop website.

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Verizon has provided several rounds of grants to WMBE businesses facing immediate financial pressure because of COVID-19—especially entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other enterprises in historically underserved communities. Please list Rural LISC and CMCA as the referral entity (these are our local entities). You can opens in a new windowregister to be alerted to future rounds of funding.

opens in a new windowCoMoHelps ( opens in a new windowhttps://comohelps.org/ ) is a joint effort of Heart of Missouri United Way, City of Columbia, Boone County, and Community Foundation of Central Missouri to coordinate monetary donations and volunteers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Great Circle is here for our community.  If you know of anyone who may be struggling with the uncertainty of this time, please share our GCHelps line at 1-844-424-3577.  Callers will be triaged and immediately connected to an appropriate Great Circle clinician. This service is available to anyone of any age as part of our Community Counseling program.


The Missouri Development Finance Board has announced the new Small Communities Operating Capital Loan Relief Program for Missouri incorporated municipalities under 25,000 in population. This program will allow $5 million to be dispersed to communities dealing with the challenges associated with COVID-19. The loans are being offered to assist cities in the maintenance of existing governmental services by  replacing tax, fees, or other governmental revenues that have been lost due to COVID-19. Loan amounts range from $50,000 to $300,000 with a 0% interest rate in the first year. Applications are due by December 31, 2020.  For more information visit https://www.mdfb.org/Programs/small-community.html.

The Department of Economic Development announced the opening of a second application cycle for the Governor’s Emergency Broadband Investment Program which will provide $2 million in funding to broadband providers. The application cycle opened today, Tuesday, September 8, 2020, and will close at noon on Thursday, September 17, 2020. Applications will be reviewed upon submission until funds are exhausted. Grant funds may be used to pay for costs associated with deployment of broadband to unserved and underserved areas of the state. For more information, visit:https://ded.mo.gov/content/emergency-broadband-investment-program.

The Show Me Strong Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Retooling Program provides grant funding to manufacturers, nonprofit organizations, and other entities to reimburse certain costs for retooling existing facilities by purchasing necessary equipment and services to manufacture critically needed PPE for use in Missouri. This grant funding will assist entities with creating new business while contributing to the fight against the current COVID-19 public health emergency. Learn more at https://ded.mo.gov/content/show-me-strong-personal-protective-equipment-ppe-retooling-program

opens in a new windowThe Small Business Grant Program is to provide grants to small businesses and family-owned farms for reimbursement of costs of business interruption caused by required closures in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Department is focused on impacting the hardest hit industries, which include retail trade, accommodation and food service and health care, in addition to family-owned farms. However, the grant is not limited to these industries.

opens in a new windowThe Missouri Chamber of Commerce offers resources, and offers its opens in a new windowUniting for Recovery Return to Work Guide.

MOSourceLink offers a list of business resources, and opens in a new windowinformation specifically for small business financing during COVID-19. MOSourceLink offers Resource Network Zoom meetings opens in a new windowevery Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Meeting ID: 754 940 742

The Missouri Small Business Development Center offers resources.

opens in a new windowMissouri State offers resources for businesses.

The State of Missouri is opens in a new windowseeking manufacturers that would like to make personal protective equipment (PPE), or have available PPE to sell.

The State of Missouri offers a opens in a new windowresource for individuals that may have lost a job, or looking for new employment. Employers that need to fill positions with qualified workers can also use this site to connect with job seekers. All services are available to job seekers and employers at no cost. The best way to opens in a new windowaccess these Missouri Job Center services during this time is online.

opens in a new windowThe Missouri Department of Economic Development’s One Start Team hiring portal is for people looking for jobs. To include your business’s job postings on this list, email to opens in a new windowshelle.jacobs@ded.mo.gov your company name; location of position; company contact with email address; if individual should apply directly to company website to apply (if yes, provide link if possible); if resume needs to be sent and if email of company contact to send it to; position(s) for which the company is hiring (manufacturing, call center, etc); shifts for which are being hired; full-time, part-time or both.

MOSourceLink offers a list of business resources, and a page specifically opens in a new windowfor small business financing during COVID-19.

Missouri Enterprises offers opens in a new windowCOVID-19 Information for Manufacturers.

The Missouri School Boards Association has published recommendations for re-opening schools, Pandemic Recovery Considerations.


Information about the SBA Paycheck Protection Program can be found at: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program

opens in a new windowSBA Disaster Loan process information is available now. Small businesses can apply now to get a $10,000 cash advance if they qualify for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). If they do qualify for the EIDL, but then also qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), they then can apply for it and roll the EIDL into the PPP loan. Businesses can have multiple SBA loans without penalty.  The U.S. Small Business Administration is has made available Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Lending. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA  makes loans available statewide in Missouri to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Applicants can opens in a new windowapply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications. Learn more about the SBA Disaster Loan. The Women’s Business Center (573-818-2980) and the Small Business Development Center ( opens in a new windowchristianma@missouri.edu) can help with these applications.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce unveiled its opens in a new windowSave Small Business Initiative to address the immediate needs of the small business community, mitigate closures and job losses, and mobilize support for long-term recovery in the wake of the economic destruction of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Chamber Foundation is supporting the supplemental financial assistance by launching their  opens in a new windowSave Small Business Fund. Funded by contributions from corporate and philanthropic partners, the U.S. Chamber Foundation will be providing $5,000 supplemental grants to small employers in economically vulnerable communities. Applications for the Save Small Business Grant Fund will open Monday, April 20 at 3 p.m. ET. There are several opens in a new windoweligibility requirements. You can review information on the opens in a new windowSave Small Business Grant Fund including qualifications, the application process and FAQs.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship offers information and links to resources at https://www.sbc.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/guide-to-the-cares-act.  U.S. Senator Roy Blunt offers coronavirus crisis resources at https://www.blunt.senate.gov/coronavirus. U.S. Senator Josh Hawley offers coronavirus crisis resources at https://www.hawley.senate.gov/coronavirus

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) offers an explanation of the Expanded Medical Leave program that was part of the Families First Coronavirus Bill at https://www.nfib.com/content/legal-compliance/coronavirus/coronavirus-paid-sick-leave-and-expanded-family-leave-law-effective-april-1-2020/

opens in a new windowVisit the CDC website.



Call the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services 24-hour hotline at 877-435-8411, if you are in need of immediate help.


CoMo Cooks Shared Commercial Kitchen Open, Virtual Tour Available

COMO cooks banner with dark blue text.The Loop CID and REDI are proud to announce that CoMo Cooks, a shared commercial Kitchen at Mizzou North, has received an operating permit from the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services and is now officially open for business.

CoMo Cooks will give all cooks a chance to turn their recipes into a business reality, regardless of background, income, or status. The goal is to increase entrepreneurial success by providing accessible, inclusive, and affordable kitchen space for starting and expanding local food-based businesses. Additional support provided by REDI and The Loop CID in the form of business coaching, shared branding, pop-ups and other promotions will help local food entrepreneurs succeed.

The CoMo Cooks project will benefit the community by:

• Encouraging the growth of local food entrepreneurs by reducing barriers and creating opportunities for those without easy access to a commercial kitchen, including those who have been impacted by racial, social, and economic inequality.

• Supporting local and regional farmers by providing cost-effective space to produce value-added products.

• Increasing the economic vitality of the Business Loop by developing a catalytic project that can spur new food-based businesses along the corridor.

• Creating quality jobs that support upward economic mobility for the residents of Columbia and Boone County.

• Providing a space that can be used in the future for business incubation, workforce development, food safety classes, and other training opportunities.

Recognizing that the local community of makers, artisans, crafters, and cooks has a significant impact on our economy, REDI and The Loop CID teamed up to receive one of six national grants designed to help Columbia identify and support local, small-scale manufacturing along the Business Loop Corridor. This shared kitchen was a direct recommendation of that public visioning process and is even more critical today given the impact of COVID-19 on the local economy.

CoMo Cooks Kitchen Manager Bryan Maness, a restaurant industry professional with over 20 years of experience in kitchen management and project launches, said, “There’s a huge need for a shared commercial kitchen here in Columbia— food-based businesses face significant start up hurdles because outfitting a kitchen is such a financial barrier. Como Cooks can now help them grow by offering an affordable kitchen combined with business support.”

The kitchen offers tiered memberships starting at 10 hours a month with hourly fees starting at $15/hour. Potential clients interested in using the kitchen can contact Bryan Maness at bryan@comocooks.com.

To learn more about the kitchen and to apply to use the kitchen, visit https://cre8como.com/como-cooks/

Take a virtual tour of the kitchen at https://theloopcomo.com/take-a-virtual-kitchen-tour/.








African American Heritage Trail Dedication December 3

opens in a new windowThe Sharp End Heritage Committee invites everyone to help celebrate the completion of the African American Heritage Trail by attending a virtual dedication on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 11:30 a.m.

During the online event, organizers will unveil a new marker to be installed in Flat Branch Park in coming days. Local officials will help recognize the significance of the trail, and committee members will recognize contributors and provide a video to preview a section of the trail.

In the early 1900s, Columbia was home to one of the wealthiest, self-made women in the nation. Around the same time, one of the world’s leading composer-musicians lived here, too, as did a famous horticulturalist with a thriving produce business. They were all rock stars of their day by any measure of comparison. And they were all Black.

Annie Fisher made a fortune selling her “beaten biscuits” nationally. Pianist Blind Boone enjoyed international fame thanks to his beloved ragtime compositions and performances. Henry Kirklin is likely the first Black to teach at Mizzou, albeit outdoors because Blacks were not allowed inside campus buildings in his day. Kirklin’s extraordinary skills in grafting and cultivating plants were legendary and he became a financial success after having been born into slavery.

The stories of these three Columbians plus several additional histories of Black people and institutions are remembered along this new African American Heritage Trail in central Columbia.

“The Sharp End Committee has worked together for more than five years to create the trail,” said Jim Whitt, committee chair. “We hoped to have a grand, outdoor celebration but the pandemic has prevented that for now. Because we want people to use the trail and learn about the history of the Black community, we have opted for the virtual event.”

With 22 historic markers along the way, the 2-mile trail runs through several blocks of central Columbia. It features several Black people who lived in Columbia during its first 200 years along with their businesses and institutions.