By guiding budding entrepreneurs, Launch U members hope participants will plant their business seed within the Lake of the Ozarks.

State Fair Community College has begun a new set of classes with the hopes of  bringing new business to the lake. Launch U is an entrepreneurial focused program that aims to help community members with a new business idea structure their ideas and create a solid business plan to move forward with. 

By guiding budding entrepreneurs, Launch U members hope participants will plant their business seed within the Lake of the Ozarks. Launch U was founded at Southeast Missouri University and has seen a spread throughout Illinois and Iowa.The program is held over a six week period with a total of 12 sessions to be completed. 

Anyone with a legitimate business idea may participate and learns the ins and outs of what it takes to create a business plan. This includes looking at possible legal issues, scouting competition in target area of operation and working one on one with marketing experts to find the best path of financing. 

State Fair Director of Small Business and Tech Development Kelly Asbury, who is involved with various teaching aspects of Launch U, says that providing experts on each area of the plan, new business owners can field questions that might be confusing throughout the process. By the end of the six week period, Asbury says the participants should be ready to seek initial finances for their goals. 

Even though the main focus of the program is to help entrepreneurs achieve their ideas, Asbury says they also want to help ground people in the reality of what it takes to accomplish starting a new business. This means that if by the end of the program a person decides it’s not in the cards, they see this as a success. 

“We want people to understand what it takes to start a business,” Asbury said. “We want people to understand their limits as well.” 

So far, Launch U has completed two sessions and is soon to begin a third. The program has seen a total of 17 participants finish the course and nine of those 17 have gone on to start a business. Of the remaining eight, a portion are currently in the process of starting up. 

Asbury says that a reason the program has seen success is due to the partnerships it has gained throughout the lake. Working with entities such as LORDEC, SCORE, four local chambers of commerce, CO-MO Electric and more, Launch U participants are welcomed into the economic landscape of the lake. Besides Launch U, State Fair’s Small Business and Tech Center offer no cost business consulting a number of low cost training seminars. 

Currently, Launch U is not directly connected to the developing Camdenton incubator hub, but ultimately Asbury sees them going hand in hand. She says that the two entities are working toward a common goal and sees an active connection as a strong possibility. 

“The hub could very well be an important aspect that helps those involved with Launch U succeed,” Asbury said.