BDP engagement with businesses, entrepreneurs, institutions of higher ed makes for a solid return on investment

When you mention University of Missouri Extension to most folks, their initial thoughts go to agriculture or 4-H, which is how many Missouri citizens relate to MU’s outreach and engagement programs.

efficient use of federal, state and local dollars,Through the years, however, there has been an energetic broadening of Extension disciplines, which also include Human Environmental Sciences, Community Development and last, but certainly not least, Business Development.

The MU Extension Business Development Program (BDP) celebrated 50 years in service to Missouri in 2016. From humble beginnings with one or two Extension business specialists, the program has grown to a multi-faceted initiative that touches thousands of Missouri companies annually through individualized, confidential assistance and numerous educational sessions.

Three foundational programs are the “anchor stores” of this effort: The Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers (MO SBTDC); the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (MO PTAC); and the Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (TAAC). Funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Commerce respectively, these outreach programs help Missouri firms start, grow and compete in a global marketplace; pursue government contracts for goods and services; and address the competition of cheaper imports to the U.S. These programs are complemented by many other efforts focused on workforce development, international trade, technology commercialization, environmental and energy conservation and industrial relations for the MU College of Engineering, the BDP’s academic home.

MU columns and Jesse Hall“The original vision for these technical assistance programs was engagement not only with businesses and entrepreneurs, but also with institutions of higher learning. In that way, the research expertise of those schools could be leveraged with the federal funding to bring the best possible assistance to each client firm,” says Steve Devlin, BDP director and assistant dean for entrepreneurship and engagement in the College of Engineering. “The beauty of this relationship, which marries the University’s goal of engagement with the other institutional missions of education and research, enables all of us to be partners in the broader mission, which is economic development.

“It’s also an awfully efficient use of federal, state and local dollars,” he adds, “and any time you can do that, you have harnessed both the power of the institution and its programs but also the financial expediency of turning $1 into many more.”

Now, here’s the “so what.”

From 2014-16, the BDP assisted Missouri companies with technical assistance and education resulting in the following outcomes:

  • 23,927 jobs created or retained
  • $900 million in sales increases
  • $436 million in new investment
  • $1.1 billion in government contracts.

This represents one job created or retained for every $844 in total funding and $120 of total economic impact for every $1 invested. This is a return of $2.43 billion for a federal, state and local investment of $20.2 million.

“Many economic development agencies report new jobs and investment,” says Steve Devlin, BDP director and assistant dean for entrepreneurship and engagement in the College of Engineering. “Our results are unique in that they are self-reported by the companies we assist, then verified by program leadership and validated by third party research.

“Business is the lifeblood of our state,” he adds, “and these impressive results demonstrate that the BDP is a solid return on investment and fuels the innovative and entrepreneurial companies that sustain our communities.”

In the past three years, fiscal years 2014-2016, the MU Extension Business Development Program helped Missouri firms create or retain 23,927 jobs, increased sales by $900, attract $436 million in new investments and win $1.1 billion in government contracts.

Article excerpted from University of Missouri Flagship Council (MFC) Weekly Legislative Update from March 3, 2017 from Doug Crews, MFC Chair.

Don’t miss part two of this series:

Missouri’s one and only – The BDP statewide network