REDI strives to grow startup businesses and foster a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem. One way REDI does this is through its entrepreneurship programs.
“The basic entrepreneurship program is becoming a Hub Client through REDI,” Jay Sparks, entrepreneurship coordinator, says.
The REDI Hub is a place for entrepreneurs to create and connect with a community of peers to grow their business and leadership skills, with resources provided by REDI and its partners, such as the Missouri Women’s Business Center.
“We provide entrepreneurs with a co-working space; access to meeting and training rooms, printers and copiers, and high-speed internet; business counseling; connections to community and business leaders; specialized events; and a network of entrepreneurs,” Jay says.
The Hub is located on Walnut Street in downtown Columbia, Missouri. It’s accessible 24/7 for clients to work. As REDI is a nonprofit organization, it doesn’t provide funding directly to clients, but Hub clients are connected with one-on-one coaching, loan and grant programs, and possibly venture capital firms as well as angel investors for their business.
“We don’t have a lot of big changes to make, just for the sake of making changes, but we’re looking forward to getting back in person, that’s for sure,” Jay says.
In March of 2020, restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic forced REDI to shut down the Hub temporarily. Most Hub businesses switched to working from home. REDI was able to provide Hub clients with Zoom licenses through a partnership with MOREnet in order to make remote work more feasible.
“We were glad we could offer clients some resources during the pandemic, but it still wasn’t the same,” Jay says. “It’s the mix that is the best part — when the marketing consultant meets the hairdresser, who meets the lawyer, who meets the video producer, who meets the game designer — that inspires new ideas. And it’s tough to manufacture that.”
Another REDI-affiliated entrepreneurship program is COMO Cooks, a shared commercial kitchen organized in conjunction with The Loop Community Improvement District. The kitchen, located at Mizzou North, provides accessible, inclusive, and affordable kitchen space for starting and expanding local food-based businesses.
If you have an idea for a business or need a space to grow an existing one, contact Jay Sparks at (573) 441-5546 or Jay.Sparks@CoMo.gov.