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Red Cross/MSSU partnership proved invaluable after the tornado

JOPLIN, Mo. – Ahead of the 2011 tornado, Missouri Southern and the Red Cross formed a partnership, and it proved to be vital when disaster struck.

That partnership designated Missouri Southern as a shelter for people to use following a natural disaster. After the tornado hit, Chris Harmon with the Red Cross says officials quickly took action.

“Wait a minute we got this,” said Harmon recalling the moments after the tornado. “I pulled out of the agreement, I’m looking at the facility and Debbie is like I’m going down there. She was immediately able to open up doors and people were able to show up. That university became the focal point and the reason that response was so successful.”

The agreement between MSSU and the Red Cross has expired but officials say they’re working on another one.

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MSSU presents Broadway hits in 'Southern Showcase, Onstage!'

JOPLIN, Mo. – Later this week, Missouri Southern State University’s theatre and music departments will present classic and contemporary Broadway hits in the new show “Southern Showcase, Onstage!” The production will take place in MSSU’s Bud Walton Black Box Theatre, April 8 – 10 at 7:30 p.m.

The first half of the show is all classic Broadway, including pieces like “Kiss me, Kate,” “Anything Goes,” “West Side Story,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” and “Guys and Dolls.” The second half consists of modern musicals like “Chicago,” “Jagged Little Pill,” “Hair,” “Moulin Rouge!,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and “Waitress.”

“It’s a mix between choral, chamber, duets, solos, men’s quartets, women’s quartets, dances. It’s just a fun night of kind of a cabaret style show,” said Program Director and Chair of Theatre Erick Wolfe.

This is the first year ‘Southern Showcase, Onstage!’ will be performed.

“The energy behind it has been fantastic,” Wolfe said.

The departments usually put on large musicals in the spring, but with Taylor Auditorium being renovated, they decided to perform something more intimate at MSSU’s Black Box Theatre.

“We wanted to find a way that we could take that same energy of ‘Choral Flourish’ from the fall season and find a way to kind of merge that with the music theater and the theatre program,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe says there are even tables set up on the stage floor so audience members can get a closer look.

“With this kind of show, the intimacy of being that close and the music… It’s so powerful,” he said.

With social distancing in place, there will be 65 seats, including the seating on the stage, available per night. Masks are required.

Anyone interested in the show can order $15 tickets online for in-person admission or a live stream of the event.

Video on demand is also available for purchase.

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MSSU holds Dress To Impress event

JOPLIN, Mo. — It normally takes more than a diploma for college students to land that first job. Of course, they need to also look the part. For students at Missouri Southern – they can take care of the latter, at no cost to them. And it’s all thanks to an annual event.

Edxel Morales, MSSU Junior, said, “Super helpful, you know kind of living on a college budget you can’t really afford this so this is awesome.”

Edxel Morales is talking about the 7th annual Dress To Impress event on the campus of Missouri Southern State University. It’s a free service put on by the university and the Young Professionals Network. Donated items – some of them brand new – all available for MSSU students and alumni who are looking for that first professional outfit, or are wanting to simply add to their wardrobe.

“It really is a privilege to have this, the University to host this for students, I think this is a huge plus, I always hear it turns out super well, and from coming from this experience my first time this is real, this is awesome.”

Over the last several weeks, individuals and businesses have donated clothing, shoes, and accessories.

Faustina Abrahams, MSSU Director of Advising, Counseling & Testing Services, said, “It would have been tremendous, being able to feel comfortable in the clothes that you wear, it gives you the confidence when you are looking for a job, it gives you the confidence when you start working.”

Faustina Abrahams is a Southern grad and employee and wishes the event would have been in existence when she was a student here. She’s donating her time at the event as a way of giving back to the university. And would probably be doing so even if she didn’t work at Southern.

“I raise two boys, and so I know what it is like when they got their first jobs.”

Because of social distancing practices, this year’s event will span 3 days – so students still have the opportunity to shop Thursday and Friday.

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Small Business Development Center holds cyber security event

JOPLIN, Mo. — When you think of a cyber attack, you might think of major companies being victims. But the same thing can happen to small businesses. Preventing that from happening was the purpose of an event, Tuesday, at Missouri Southern.

The conference room inside the SBDC Center in Joplin became a classroom on Tuesday. It was the location of a virtual training session on data security.

The virtual event featured a member of the Missouri Office of Homeland Security as well as Jason Rincker, with Stronghold Data, who says small business owners are frequent targets of hackers.

Jason Rincker, Stronghold Data, said, “Share with them the knowledge we’ve gained, you know, over the years, cyber threats, the whole cyber landscape is a major threat to all industries, both federal, city, state, you know from a government standpoint but also from small businesses, in fact, small businesses are their number one target.”

Ken Surbrugg with the Small Business & Development Center on the campus of MSSU says data security is an issue you should deal with before you go into business.

Ken Surbrugg, Consultant, MSSU Small Business Development Center, said, “It’s an expense your going to have but think of it also as an investment in your business because protecting data is so important in today’s world.”

He says small businesses often don’t have the financial resources to overcome an information breach, which can hurt owners and employees.

“Everything else is going great with the business, they have a good market and potential and everything else, but if that happens, you know, how many people are going to be confident and secure that they can continue to do business with them, or yeah, it just shuts them down and it’s unfortunate because that’s lost jobs in our community.”

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Area organizations team up for Launchpad project

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin City Council is unveiling its plan for projects throughout the year. One big collaboration is called Launchpad. Missouri Southern State University, the Joplin Chamber of Commerce, and Joplin Schools are part of the partnership.

Toby Teeter, President of Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “This is an opportunity where the business community works with Missouri Southern State University and the city of Joplin to build a robust city center that better supports entreprenurial ecosystem our talent pipeline.”

The Launchpad project has been in the works for three years to improve the entreprenurial ecosystem in Joplin. The program would move into the 48,000 square foot former downtown library on Fourth and Main. The project is giving high school students and MSSU students job opportunities.

“Not only are we trying to cater to our existing workforce and existing business sectors, but we are also trying to incubate 21st century business sectors like engineering biosciences and technology as well as entreprenuership.”

The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce also applied for a grant to bring code labs for adults to the community.

“We could take people that are not from an it background and in a matter of 12 months make them a full stack web developer and create more of that talent for our community.”

For launchpad MSSU would relocate their small business development center from campus to downtown. The university says the project would help students by connecting them with local internships.

Dr. Dean Van Galen, MSSU President, said, “In many cases students who do an internship go on for employment with that business so I think it will be really good for our students and develop the talent and workforce for the joplin area.”

Since Monday’s City Council meeting was a work session they are not making any decisions on the project. Launchpad is expected to cost $10 million. So far launchpad applied for a $750,000 grant in December.

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SBDC hosts event focused on female business owners

JOPLIN, Mo. — If you’re tired of trying to break through the glass ceiling – why not start your own business? Prospective business owners received advice, Monday in Joplin, from a woman who did just that.

It was a goal of Natty Redd to eventually start her own beauty business, which is called Happy Hour Wax and Facial Bar. But she says she couldn’t have accomplished that without the help of Katie Fields with the Small Business Development Center on the campus of MSSU. So when Fields asked her to be the guest speaker at a Women In Business event, she says it’s the least she could do.

Natty Redd, Owner, Operator, Happy Hour Wax & Facial Bar, said, “She has helped me so much, I would not be where I am today without her, I feel very blessed that I found her, a friend of mine who is also a small business owner, she told me about them and so I was like, wow that’s awesome that there is something like that here to help women in small businesses.”

This is the second year in a row the annual event was held virtually due to the pandemic. It focused on building your own brand. Events like this can help women not only learn what to do, but what not to do when it comes to starting your own business. And Fields says she couldn’t think of anyone more appropriate to share real world experience than someone who’s been there and done that.

Katie Fields, SBDC Business Consultant, said, “I think it’s huge to talk to someone who has started and is a seasoned business owner now for them to highlight what has worked for them and what hasn’t, and to hear from they’re actual someone in business that they’re still learning today by trial and error.”

“I started school late in life, I was 30 and so, I just knew this was it, this is what I wanted so bad, you have to really want it and there are so many people out there that are going to be willing to help you, you just have to ask for it,” said Redd.