MOSourceLink was founded in 2008 to support aspiring and growth-oriented businesses in Missouri. This report summarizes accomplishments and results for 2011, brought about in large part by the support of the Missouri Technology Corporation. During the past year, MOSourceLink has responded to more than 1600 requests for assistance, resulting in 2250 interactions. In addition, our websites have logged nearly 40,000 visits and more than 1500 business owners have searched for Resource Partners using The Resource Navigator®, coming from every county and corner of the state.
In almost three years of responding to client requests and linking them to the right resource at the right time, MOSourceLink has learned a great deal about the needs of business owners in Missouri and is uniquely positioned to not only respond to those needs but also provide insights to policy makers and state employees.
MOSourceLink provides Missouri with a highly reliable and identifiable system to grow businesses across the state by linking entrepreneurs to the right resources when and where they need it.
MOSourceLink provides referrals to clients in two ways: through our toll-free hotline and through the Resource Navigator® search engine on the website. As a central entrepreneurship and small business hub, we have become the only organization in the state that collects timely information about startup and growing businesses. We sit in the unique position of being able to provide reliable information and identify trends in terms of what kind of assistance businesses are looking, what industries they represent and the various stages of business.
The charts below illustrate the results for 2011. The top requests for assistance from both our hotline clients and our Resource Navigator searches centered on starting a business, regulatory compliance, financial assistance and resources and business planning.
Clients come from a wide range of industries. Perhaps surprisingly, a large segment of clients who use the Resource Navigator to search for resources come from high tech industries such as information technology, bioscience and manufacturing, and high tech services and manufacturing.
Not surprisingly, most of those who seek assistance are in the concept or startup phase of their businesses. That said, more than a fourth are established businesses with a few reporting revenues of more than $1 million.
MOSourceLink clients come from all corners of the state, with the heaviest usage coming from the two major urban areas. We continue to get a significant number of requests from out of state, those seeking to do business in Missouri or move their businesses here. It’s important to note that volume from the Kansas City metro area is larger because KCSourceLink has been in operation there since 2003.
Gateway to state resources
During 2011 we made almost 3000 referrals to various organizations that offer assistance to entrepreneurs and business owners. For MOSourceLinkc, fully a third of those referrals went to government agencies in Missouri, such as the Department of Economic Development, the Secretary of State, Department of Revenue Tax Assistance Centers and other state offices and agencies. About 16% were referred to local offices of federal government agencies such as the IRS, the SBA and SCORE.
Another 24% were referred to state-sponsored organizations such as the SBTDC network, Extension, MOFast and the PTACs. The remainder was referred to MOSourceLink partners.
Given that such a large percentage of our clients are looking for assistance from state resources, MOSourceLink acts as a gateway and maximizes the use of state resources in several ways:
- By answering the hotline, MOSourceLink reduces the number of “unqualified” calls that go to state agencies; state agency employees can focus on their core business and spend less time learning about other agencies and referring clients
- MOSourceLink prepares callers, so that when they do call the right state agency, they have the necessary information on hand
- MOSourceLink refers callers to online state resources, forms, etc., again minimizing time for state employees
- MOSourceLink helps generate state tax revenue by reminding and encouraging startup businesses to register with the Department of Revenue and pay appropriate sales tax
A continuing challenge for MOSourceLink is spreading the word. About a third of our website traffic comes from links on state websites such as the Department of Economic Development, MTC and the Department of Revenue. Links from the Missouri Business Portal continue to be one of the top sources for our hotline calls. We have been working closely with Office of Administration staff to ensure that the MOSourceLink website complements the Missouri Business Portal. We also coordinate with the SBTDC website to ensure that all links remain current and that we are not duplicating their work. Increased links to state resources would significantly increase program usage.
The MOSourceLink events calendar is the only statewide source for all events, from SBTDC classes to Startup Weekends to events sponsored by the Governor’s office. The calendar is the third most visited page on the website, and provides an opportunity to promote a variety of events. The calendar is organized by region so that clients can search the entire state or just one region.
We also publish a monthly newsletter to highlight business resources and drive client usage of MOSourceLink services. The newsletter goes out to about 3000 constituents and features Resource Partners, events and tips for business owners. The newsletter works hand in hand with a new feature of the website, the MOSourceLink blog. The blog allows us to highlight information and events of interest to entrepreneurs and business owners, and we can link from the newsletter right to that blog content. During the past year we’ve featured such diverse topics as:
- Special resources for disaster victims
- Downtown revitalization
- MADE in Missouri winners
- Microlending in the southeast region
- Federal funding for exports
- A guest blog from Harold Zinn, Missouri Enterprise, featuring the results of their manufacturing study
- MTC funding opportunities
Resource for out-of-state companies
MOSourceLink provides valuable assistance to out-of-state companies considering a move to Missouri or an expansion to the state. Most of those who come to MOSourceLink for assistance were looking for financial resources, startup help and business planning.