To foster business, community, and workforce development and facilitate the process of innovation to enhance the regional economy and support the transfer of institutional knowledge and resources derived from within the University to the external environment to create new, high-value jobs, positive economic and social benefits, and advance entrepreneurship.


In 2003, the Innovation Center and closely allied nonprofit organization Missouri Research Corporation were launched to support Southeast Missouri State University’s strategic priority to advance the region’s economic appeal and strength by accelerating local and regional economic growth and development. Over the next several years, those entities’ efforts included offering business development services, business incubator space, entrepreneurial training, access to capital, research and technical assistance, and more.

In 2006, the entities partnered with the Kauffman Foundation and the Delta Regional Authority to offer trainings for aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs in Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

By 2011, there had been over 600 participants trained through the program resulting in 281 new businesses. The Kauffman Foundation then joined with the nonprofit to continue the development and distribution of the program nationwide to over 150 affiliate organizations.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded the entities with designation as an Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center and the nonprofit was renamed the Missouri Innovation Corporation (MIC) to reflect its development into more entrepreneurial and economic development activity. With this rapid growth of both outreach and student-focused efforts, there was a separation to better serve each group resulting in the now Economic and Business Engagement Center primarily serving the external community.

Crystal Jones


Crystal JonesDirectorCertifications• Delta Leadership Institute - Delta Regional Authority • Executive Education - Harvard Kennedy School

cgjones@semo.edu(573) 651-5956

Mark Christian


Mark ChristianSmall Business & Technology Development Center Director

machristian@semo.edu (573) 651-2304



Christy MershonAssistant Director of Continuing Education

cmershon@semo.edu (573) 986-6879

Jakob Pallesen


Jakob PallesenSmall Business & Technology Development Center Counselor Certifications• Certified Global Business Professional, NASBITE • LivePlan Expert Advisor • Economic Gardening, Edward Lowe Foundation • EMSI Certified, Economic Modeling Specialists International

jpallesen@semo.edu (573) 651-5156

Gabrielle Penca


Gabrielle PencaProject Coordinator

gpenca@semo.edu (573) 986-6085

Kelli Behrle


Kelli BehrleProject Coordinator Certifications• Economic Development Strategies Certification, Delta Regional Authority

kbehrle@semo.edu (573) 651-2287

John Gruidl


John Gruidl Ph.D.Senior Research Analyst

jgruidl@semo.edu (573) 651-2929



Micheal KingContinuing Education Program Technician Certifications• Social Marketing Certification, Hootsuite Academy

mdking@semo.edu (573) 986-6436

Andy Chronister


Andrew ChronisterAgriculture Technology Coordinator Certifications• FAA Remote Pilot Certification

achronister@semo.edu (573) 651-2929

Portrait of Kayla Ray


Kayla RayGraduate Assistant Business Consultant Certifications• QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor • LivePlan Expert Advisor • Microsoft Office Excel Certified

sbtdc@semo.edu (573) 651-6084

Photo of Courtney Beattie


Courtney BeattieStudent Business Consultant

sbtdc@semo.edu (573) 651-6084

U.S. Small Business Administration

America's SBDC

Economic Development Administration


Missouri Department of Economic Development

Missouri Technology Corporation

Missouri Association of Councils of Government

Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers

Delta Entrepreneurship Network

Delta Regional Authority



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