Beyond the numbers; Rep. T.J. Berry looks at the reality behind Missouri business growth

Earlier this week, Governor Nixon made a big splash over statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau that showed that Missouri led the nation, by a long shot, in business creation in 2013. While most states lost businesses from 2012 to 2013, Missouri increased from 7,759 businesses in 2012 to 9,052 new businesses in  2013. That’s a 16.7% increase. Missouri also ranked in the top 10 for startup funding.

In this article from the Missouri Times, State Representative T.J. Berry (R-Kearney), a key member of the Missouri Technology Corporation and an entrepreneur with a long history of creating successful businesses, takes a look inside those numbers for the real reasons behind Missouri’s meteoric rise in business creation.

From the Missouri Times

As word came from Gov. Jay Nixon’s office that Missouri had the highest business growth in the nation from 2012 to 2013 and that the state had ranked in the top ten for startups, the governor credited the work of the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) for some of that growth.

Berry

Rep. T.J. Berry, R-Kearney, has served on the MTC for three years and has been an entrepreneur his entire life. He believes that the work of the public-private partnership to foster growth for technology companies is certainly a tool that helps those who start businesses in the state of Missouri.

“We’ve been helpful but not instrumental to the growth of businesses,” Berry said. “[The MTC] fulfills a role in helping small start up companies in different funding levels and helps them grow. It’s a funding mechanism. We have had good success with the companies that have been helped, but the total number of companies helped is relatively small.”

For that huge jump in growth that outpaced every other state by at least a ten percent margin, Berry cited other successful entities for their work in promoting small businesses, including the St. Louis and Kansas City Chambers of Commerce.

“One of the things I think has helped is the St. Louis and Kansas City Chamber of Commerce have put an emphasis on entrepreneurship,” Berry said. “They have done a good job of rallying larger businesses into helping startups.”

Berry argues that when larger established companies work with smaller companies in the same locations, it gives small businesses an invaluable resource, one often missing in new businesses: experience.

“It gives them that boost when they’re starting, it helps them start growing,” he said. “It’s not any one thing. It is an environment of entrepreneurism and a lot of different support levels. If you can talk to somebody who has more experience than you have and can prevent you from making a mistake or connect you with people who can help you even more, it starts to add up and make a difference.”

Younger businesses in different areas also help themselves just from sheer proximity.

“Both in KC and STL, it’s more about an organic environment, these areas where really new companies are locating together and they bounce ideas off of each other and that supportive environment with people experiencing the same things, maybe in different fields, they can support each other,” Berry said.

Inc. Magazine’s list of the 5000 Fastest Growing Businesses of 2015 in the U.S. included 69 from the Show-Me State, more than all of its neighboring states except Illinois and Tennessee and more per capita than Illinois, Tennessee and Nebraska.

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