efactory and IDEA Commons Create Inviting Environment For Young Professionals

efactory and IDEA Commons create inviting environment for young professionals

Britany grew up in Maryland Heights, Missouri, and went to a diverse high school in the St. Louis area. Before she visited Missouri State University, she wasn’t sure she’d fit in at Missouri State because of the relatively small number of Black students compared to some other colleges she considered.

Missouri State awarded her an Inclusive Excellence Scholarship. The scholarship provided money for tuition and an internship experience. When she met current students and some of the Black faculty and staff during a campus visit, she decided to attend the university.

Britany studied hospitality leadership. During her junior year, she took the Restaurants Management class, where students learned all aspects of running a restaurant.

During her senior year, Britany applied for and won a pitch competition for a three-year Student Entrepreneurial Grant. The grant provides a financial award, mentoring and professional support to help awardees successfully launch a business after graduation.

During the first year of the grant, Britany was a management trainee with a Minorities in Business restaurant owner.

In the second year, she had the use of a food truck in the IDEA Commons plaza. IDEA Commons is an urban innovation park in downtown Springfield. During that year, her mentor helped her develop a menu and coached her on running a business.

She also worked with legal, financial and human resources coaches at the efactory. They helped her develop a business plan to take her restaurant concept from a food truck to a permanent location. The efactory, located in IDEA Commons, is a Missouri State program that serves entrepreneurs and business owners in southwest Missouri.

The third year, Britany received a monthly stipend to help cover expenses as her new restaurant got off the ground. Her mentor and coaches from the efactory also continued to coach her.

Britany had originally planned to go back to St. Louis after she graduated. But she began to see Springfield as a place where she’d be happy living.

She ultimately decided to stay in Springfield. She opened a small restaurant downtown and later became a mentor for other underrepresented students who want to start their own businesses.

Big ideas

Big ideas

  • Inclusive Excellence Scholarship includes funding to allow students to participate in internships or practical experiences during their sophomore, junior or senior year.
  • Student Entrepreneurial Grant competition provides funding, support and mentorship to help them start a business.