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Ozark Small Business Incubator (OZSBI). Our roots!.

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Ozark Small Business Incubator (OZSBI)

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Ozark small business incubator ozsbi

Ozark Small Business Incubator (OZSBI)

Our roots

Our roots!

  • Downtown West Plains, Inc. (DTWP) was chartered in March of 1998 as a “not for profit” 501 (c)(3) corporation. Its board was made up of seven downtown business owners, one city official and one official of Missouri State University-West Plains campus.  Its major goals at that time were to preserve the historic architecture of the central business district, renew its infrastructure, and make it a desirable place to live and do business. 

Downtown west plains inc

Downtown West Plains, Inc.

  • DTWP hired its first director, John Dalton.

  • It also contracted with a Brenda R. Spencer of Wamego, KS, an architect with experience in historic downtown renovation and planning, to create a Master Plan for physical improvements. 

  • This plan was completed and published in October of 1999. 

  • It was summarized in a ten year plan for improvements to be made in the downtown area.

Downtown west plains inc1

Downtown West Plains, Inc

  • The board moved quickly with Spencer’s plans by hiring Becky Snider, a Historical Preservation Consultant, to help create a National Historic District. 

  • This was accomplished by a grant from the Missouri DED matched by the City of West Plains and DTWP.   Spencer had recommended the creation of a district to help protect the historic nature of the downtown and to make tax credits and other funding available for public and private projects.  

  • Snider completed this two-phase project in 2002 with the successful listing on the National Register of Historic Places of the Courthouse Square Historic District. 

  • These efforts by DTWP spurred new interest in private development resulting in over two million dollars in remodeling projects in the next two years. 

Downtown west plains inc2

Downtown West Plains, Inc

  • The board also worked with the City and its TIF district to assure $500,000 in funding for downtown improvements. 

  • Soon after that it invited Senator Christopher Bond to visit West Plains and see the progress being made by public and private endeavors in our downtown. 

  • Following that visit Bond worked with the City of West Plains to acquire $500,000 in HUD funds for the further development of Spencer’s plans. 

  • In response the City not only used TIF monies to match the HUD grant but invested close to an additional $1,000,000 in funds to bury all downtown utilities, put in new street lighting, change the plan of the Court Square and install new parking, planters and entrance signs for downtown. 

Downtown west plains inc3

Downtown West Plains, Inc.

  • By the end of its first five years of existence DTWP had brought $5 million in improvements to the downtown area and was well on its way to accomplishing many of the items on its 10 year plan. 

  • In the spring of 2005 a report was released by the Small Business Administration in Washington D.C stating that West Plains was the top creator of new entrepreneurs in the state of Missouri and among the top fifty locations in the United States. 

  • This announcement came at the same time as DTWP was studying what to do with the former Butler Furniture Company building.  It seemed too large for private development, but was located at the entrance to the downtown at the corner of Business 63 and Washington Avenue. 

Transition and transformation

Transition and Transformation

  • With little idea of what it entailed, the board decided a business Incubator that would work with the entrepreneurs; the Small Business Administration had identified was the best use for the building. 

  • The purchase of the building would accomplish several of the goals in our master plan: the renovation of a large historic building; the creation of new businesses for our community; increased traffic flow in the downtown area; and to serve as an anchor project moving into a new ten year plan. 

Advisory committee

Advisory Committee

  • Downtown West Plains, Inc.

    • Two business owners from DTWP

    • Ozark Action

    • Radio Station owner

    • City Economic Development Specialist

    • Small Business Development Specialist

    • Chamber of Commerce

    • University of Missouri Extension

    • Missouri State West Plains (Community College)

Butler building funding

Butler Building Funding

  • In August of 2005 DTWP approached the Butler family and purchased the building for $350,000.  A down payment was made with $5,000 raised by DTWP and a $95,000 loan from the City of West Plains. 

    • The City forgave this loan in the following year.

  • A ten year note was given to the Butler family on the balance of $250,000 with interest to be set each October at the interest rate paid by the largest CD available at Community First National Bank.

    •  The West Plains Industrial Development Association makes this payment monthly.

The egg is in the nest

The Egg is in the nest!

35 000 square feet front side

35,000 Square Feet (Front Side)

Back side

Back Side







Ownership and remodel

Ownership and Remodel

  • The Advisory Committee does a SWOT Analysis.

  • Begins to seek funding for remodel.

  • Begins to develop remodel plans.

  • Several Meetings

  • Several Meetings

  • Several Meetings

First floor plans

First Floor Plans

Second floor unfinished at this time

Second Floor (Unfinished at this time)

First round of funding

First Round of Funding

  • An application for NAP tax credits was made in June of 2005 and DTWP was awarded $50,000 in credits for a $100,000 drive.  This effort concluded in July of 2008 and was successful in raising $77,000 for the OzSBI project. 

  • A “building” committee was formed at that time to steer this process consisting of members of DTWP, SCOCOG, Ozark Action, Work Force Development, the City of West Plains, Howell-Oregon Electric Coop, and the EDC. 

  • Requests to the Delta Regional Authority for $50,000, the Community Development Block Grant Program for $250,000 and to the USDA for $87,000 were all made and were successful (the Delta grant was later rescinded by mutual agreement after hurricane Katrina). 

  • In 2006 West Plains was named a DREAM Community and in a visit to West Plains, Governor Matt Blunt increased the Block Grant to $400,000. 

  • A fourth grant was applied for in 2005 and 2006 to the Federal Department of Health and Human Services for a $400,000 grant to raise income to low income families, but was unsuccessful. 



  • In 2006 proposals were reviewed and the architectural firm of Gaskin, Hill and Norcross, Springfield, Missouri was hired to prepare plans for the project.  In the fall of 2006 the exterior sheet metal facade was removed to reveal the brick facade put on the building in 1908 by Mr. Bond.  As bids were being prepared on the first phase of work on the exterior of the building, the southwest corner collapsed in early January of 2007. 

Corner of building collapsed

Corner of Building Collapsed



  • The Block Grant administrators allowed us to use $30,000 of the grant in emergency funds to stabilize the building and remove the debris.

Funding history continued

Funding History Continued

  • May of 2008 a grant requests to the Missouri Block Grant Program (CDBG) for $250,000, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for $500,000 and to the Missouri Development Finance Board (MDFB) for $250,000 through their tax credit program. 

  • Plans were also in place to request NAP credits for a $250,000 fund drive in March of 2009.



  • In the spring of 2008 a second committee of DTWP spilt off the original “building” committee with the assignment to create a plan of operation for the OzSBI.  One of its first requests was to join the National Business Incubator Association  

  • Retreat was scheduled in August to discuss the many ideas members learned at a NBIA conference. 

  • From the retreat the need to create a detailed business plan and accompanying budget were set as high priorities and that committee worked diligently on that plan.

More funding

More Funding

  • The region, and in particular the community of West Plains, has a history of financially supporting the growth of community betterment projects.

  • In the case of the OzSBI, businesses, organizations, and individuals have generously contributed to its development.

  • Over the past 5 years, local support has exceeded $250,000.

  • Since November 2009, the Team has sought donations for the Founder’s Club and exceeded their $100,000 goal.

  • In December 2010, an additional $80,000 was raised through the Certified Incubator Tax Credit program.

Funding history cont

Funding History (cont.)

  • 2011- $65,000/50% certified Tax Credits $130,000 Raised.

  • 2012 – Raised 105,000 through the Missouri Development Finance Board.

  • 2012 -$45,000 in 50% certified Tax Credits

About 1 8 million

About 1.8 Million

Some additional funding and donations

Some Additional Funding and Donations

  • Several Banks and Business donated furniture

    that they were no longer using.

  • Operation Jump Start in Cape Girardeau paid to train facilitators then provided a seed grant to conduct three trainings in the region.

  • Bruce's/Armstrong Lumber provided the flooring.

  • Security, Internet, Construction donations.

  • West Plains R-VII, Building Trades did some of the contruction.

Donated lumber for flooring

Donated Lumber for Flooring

Doors open january 15 2012

Doors Open (January 15, 2012)

Training and meeting space

Training and Meeting Space

Governor nixon comes to visit

Governor Nixon Comes to Visit

Governor nixon

Governor Nixon

Board room meeting space

Board Room/Meeting Space

Representative joann emerson

Representative JoAnn Emerson

Offices avaliable

Offices Avaliable

Office space

Office Space

Office space1

Office Space

Office space2

Office Space

Work room for businesses

Work Room for Businesses

Front lobby

Front Lobby

Front lobby and greeting area

Front Lobby and Greeting Area

Idea center february 1 2013

Idea Center (February 1, 2013)

Open house

Open House

Accomplishments since 2012

Accomplishments Since 2012

  • Operation JumpStart, a 36-hour hands-on training program has been offered five times with over 50 entrepreneurs.

  • Twelve Operation JumpStart graduates have already started new businesses.

  • Graduates have created 24 new jobs.

  • The existing Incubator Clients have created an additional 20 jobs in our region.

  • OzSBI has offered 22 one-night Business Workshops.

Accomplishments cont

Accomplishments (cont.)

  • Hosted two seven-week sessions of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” with 22 participants.

  • Eleven-week course of Growth Venture which had 12 business owners in attendance.

  • The Governor of Missouri (Jay Nixon) has requested to us the building for two major state announcements.

  • Finished first two phases of interior remodel.

First award


  • At the Governors Conference on Economic Development September 7, 2013- Received

  • The Governors Award for “Community Redevelopment Project of the Year”

Newest additions store fronts

Newest Additions (Store Fronts)

Back of building

Back of Building

Ozark small business incubator ozsbi

  • 408 Washington Ave

  • West Plains, Missouri 65775

  • 417-256-9724

  • www.ozsbi.com

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