CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 7, 2015 –Southeast Missouri State University’s Institute for Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IRIE) received a 2015 Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation.

The association’s Innovation Awards program recognizes regional development organizations and partnering organizations for improving the economic and community competitiveness of the nation’s regions and local communities.

The award is for the Institute’s Regional Entrepreneurship Assessment & Strategy Reports, which examined four Economic Development Districts (EDDs) in Missouri this fiscal year: the Bootheel Regional Planning Commission, Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission, Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments and South Central Ozark Council of Governments.

“Southeast Missouri State University is committed to facilitating innovation, entrepreneurship, and business development to enhance the regional economy,” said Dr. Gerald McDougall, Southeast’s interim provost. “One way that we do this is by using our research abilities to provide tools and best practices that communities can use to create positive economic and social benefits.”

The reports developed a systemic approach to link each districts’ industrial resources, job opportunities and local assets analyses to a larger regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. The research and data analysis identified the regional entrepreneurial infrastructure needed to advance opportunities to strengthen regional industries and drive technology innovation.

“The reports are a unique tool that rural regions can use to advance their ecosystems,” said Crystal Jones, project coordinator at the IRIE.

The research included a regional survey, focus group sessions, and an analysis of National Establishment Time Series, innovation index, and industry cluster data for each of the EDDs.

With this information, regions can focus their efforts to develop and expand high-impact technologies and firms to bolster existing assets and strengths.

“EDD regions have used the information in a variety of ways, ranging from an educational resource to support documentation for grant applications,” said Jones. “In whatever way the reports are used, the primary focus is that conversations about entrepreneurship are being held and EDDs are really the catalyst for making that happen.”

The project brought together stakeholders through a collaborative effort between the University and the EDDs, and created an avenue for academia to provide their expertise to rural regions of Missouri.

“The Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments (LOCLG) Regional Entrepreneurship Assessment and Strategy report has been a valuable field guide to fostering small business growth in our region,” said Linda Conner, executive director of the LOCLG. “The report includes clearly defined tangible activities that can be easily implemented and integrated in our economic development efforts. Our community leaders often reference the publication and the resources that it provides. LOCLG appreciates all the effort and support that Southeast Missouri State University provided during the planning process and even into the implementation part of the plan.”

NADO is a Washington, D.C.-based association that promotes programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery, and comprehensive strategies.

“We are very proud of the work that is being done with the Regional Entrepreneurship Assessment and Strategy reports and are grateful to the National Association of Development Organizations for recognizing our work,” said McDougall.

For more information about Southeast’s Institute for Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship, visit http://www.semo.edu/irie/.

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