Coffee and Candidate Questions
On Saturday, I sat down at Locust & Oak Coffee House to meet with voters and have a good cup of coffee. I want to be the candidate that will answer anyone’s question. I spoke with a few people about issues that matter to those in Franklin County. I’d like to share one of those questions with you today:
“What do you think we should do to help rural kids? Some of them have to get jobs to help supplement their family’s incomes.”
This question hit home to me. My Fiancee, Elgin, is a school teacher. She had students who were in this exact situation when she taught at Steelville, MO. It is actually a driving factor in teachers not giving out as much homework as they used to. She explained it to me like this: “You don’t know what their home life is like. If the students have to work to help make ends meet, they won’t be able to do homework. Homework, at that point, hurts them academically.” So they try to give them as much time in-class to get work done.
But the real problem, at least to my way of thinking, is that a 16-18 year old has to get a job to help support their family, not to earn some extra cash for extra-curricular activities. The solution to this problem is going to be complex, but I think that a part of that solution will come in the form of building a better local economy. One way to do that is by giving local community colleges, (like East Central) a platform that allows them to invest in local communities.
The Incubator Platform
Missouri State University has a program in Springfield, MO called the “eFactory“. It allows small businesses to pay a reduced rental rate for basic office equipment. (Things like phones, printers, scanners, fax machines, a conference room, projectors, desks, etc.) This helps small businesses get off the ground early without needing to spend a lot of capital sourcing basic office items. There is also an accelerator program. A good candidate for the accelerator program will have an excellent idea, as well as a business plan and possible demo ready to go. The accelerator is a 12 week program that seeds initial funding for a startup. In exchange for that funding and access to high-quality mentors who have experience managing businesses, the business provides the school with a small amount of equity.
If every community college in Missouri had a program like this, focused on investing into small, local businesses, we would see a wider, more diverse economy popping up in small towns across the state. Young people wouldn’t have to move to the large metro areas to find work that could support them, and it can bring an influx of cash to these smaller areas. The colleges would gain a stake in each company, so they would be focused on helping each business succeed – each success would position the colleges for a better future. Make it easier for small businesses to start, and our economy will flourish.
Get Your Grill On
I was also asked about our “Get Your Grill On” fundraiser – and it’s super simple. Donate a dollar (or more!) to our campaign, and you could win a chance to have a meal prepared by me! You’ll pick the menu, (Pork, Steak, Burgers, Salmon, Turkey Burgers, Veggie Burgers, whatever you like) and I’ll fire up the grill and get it cooked. We can hang out on the back porch while the food cooks and talk about the issues that matter to you. We are also going to unlock some milestone content, starting at $25 – so get your donations in quick to start unlocking bigger/better prizes!