New Year, New Directions
Well, a lot has happened since my last post (12-21-2006).
The holiday break was crazy for me and Kelly. Highlights include:
12/22: House-cleaning galore!
12/23: Friend and her family over for early dinner and gift-giving.
12/24: To St. Charles near Page Extension for one part of family gift-giving.
12/25: To Dellwood (N. County) for main part of family gift-giving.
12/27: To Poplar Bluff to visit family.
12/28: While in Poplar Bluff, got job offer phone call!
1/2: Pres. Ford National Day of Mourning. (At first, I was annoyed Jerry Ford didn't seem to be getting the same level of attention as Reagan, but that was probably just due to the holiday. Overall, an appropriate level of respect and effort was provided for the state funeral, etc.)
1/4: Meeting with dissertation committee.
1/5: Interesting and exciting (for me) event at Carpenters' Hall: kickoff for the new Regional Union Construction Center small business incubator.
1/7: More student driving, mostly in inner-ring SW County (Webster Groves, Rock Hill, etc.)
1/9: Another fun event (for me): the Regional Brownfields Marketplace at UMSL.
The big news I buried in the middle of that list, then, is the new job. Of course I had to announce this last week to my profs in political science at WashU because this means I cannot be a TA there anymore. I'm already done with coursework, and very close to being a PhD candidate.
This position is with University of Missouri Extension's Missouri Business Development Program, working in the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Center (MO PTAC) for the Eastern Region, located in downtown St. Louis.
MO PTAC helps small businesses get government contracts. My position is brand new, adding a second full-time person in St. Louis in addition to the Eastern Region director, Rich Fyke. I'll be helping Rich particularly with:
*Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses
*Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses
*HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) Businesses
*State and Local Government Contracts
The HUBZone designation covers selected Census tracts including about 60% of the City of St. Louis; Lambert Airport, Wellston, Kinloch, parts of Jennings, Maplewood and Berkeley -- as well as entire counties in rural Southeast Missouri. It's pretty much anywhere unemployment is high and median income is low.
There will also be a person based in Clayton who spends about 1/2 their time on PTAC, in addition to general business development. MO PTAC also has folks in Columbia (the state headquarters), Kansas City, Rolla, and West Plains. SW Missouri has a regional PTAC program based in Joplin called Heartland PTAC.
Most PTAC services are free; some seminars require a small fee. Given the limited number of staffers and the broad geographic reach, the impacts are quite promising. In FY06, businesses working with MO PTAC received over $185 million in government contracts. That's just in one year, in 2/3rds of the counties in Missouri.
I start February 1, 2007. This position feels like a great opportunity for me to move to the next level in my career and, hopefully, make a positive impact on the economic growth of greater St. Louis. ;-)
It might mean, though, I have even less time for thoughtful blogging. ;-(