The Regional Economic Development Inc., or REDI, held a ribbon cutting Thursday morning to open its newly remodeled innovation hub.
According to REDI, the hub is “a collaborative workspace and business development program for entrepreneurs.”
Many local start ups have taken a leap of faith with REDI in the past few years.
Sam Bodine is the co-founder of Scout & Nimble, an online marketplace where customers can “browse, discover, and shop fully curated rooms.”
Bodine said they began as just a simple blog and wanted to expand.
“We were about a year and a half in and then we heard about REDI and all the things they could do to help us,” said Bodine. “We reached out to them and then moved in here.
“With the connections that they’ve got within the community and the resources that they have, they’ve helped us expand the business and grow it to what it is today,” said Bodine.
The newly renovated and renamed “innovation hub” downtown is a space for local entrepreneurs to work on businesses ideas on their own or collaborate with others.
Collin Bunch is a small business development counselor who gives talks or offers support across mid-Missouri to people looking for new business advice and assistance.
He said the hub has always been a great tool for people who are just starting out with their start up ideas.
“You can come run next door, and this happens, where people are freaking out,” he said. “We can calm them down, talk through options and get a plan of action.”
He said with the new renovations, there are now seperate work rooms where people can work on their own, bu tthe space is still an open area to discuss ideas.
“[Members] don’t have have enough money for a team yet but they can all help each other do small things,” he said. “‘I’m an expert in this, you’re an expert in that.’ Then we guide them along the way and make more connections and opportunities.”
REDI operates with community support as it continues to develop new programs to help people build their businesses in mid-Missouri.
“It’s the first time that a lot of things are really on the same page with the university, Columbia College, the chamber,” said Bunch. “Everyone’s working together to make everything happen.”
As it continues to expand, the small business growth that it fosters is having a growing effect on the economy.
“It creates jobs and it brings people into the area and grows the economy and so on and so forth,” said Bodine. “You know, for the most part, most of them are invested in the community once they’ve been in here. I think REDI kind of pushes for that.”