On February 22, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce (JACC) and Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) unveiled plans for LaunchPad, a proposed, adaptive reuse of the former downtown Joplin library. This project will expand opportunities for students, startups, and those seeking to launch new careers in business and technology.
LaunchPad will be established with five main objectives:
- LAUNCH Culinary Startups – Incubate culinary entrepreneurs and provide a large-scale seating area for food, drinks, and entertainment.
- Launch Entrepreneurs – Expand collaboration and leverage resources across our entrepreneurial ecosystem to support innovation and entrepreneurship.
- LAUNCH Careers – Connect high school and MSSU students with area professionals to demonstrate twenty-first century career opportunities in Joplin.
- LAUNCH Our Digital Workforce – Accelerate the digital economy by reskilling and preparing our workforce for tomorrow.
- LAUNCH Access to Opportunities – Increase access and diversity to attract minorities, women, and low-income entrants to digital occupations and entrepreneurship.
This project will be a collaboration between JACC, MSSU, and other community partners. It will incorporate a variety of elements and features, including:
- A culinary incubator with three venues and indoor and outdoor seating.
- An entrepreneurial hub for hosting seminars, weekly 1 Million Cups meetings, a startup weekend, an annual Joplin Regional Tech and Innovation Summit, and high school and collegiate pitch competitions.
- An economic development hub with shared offices and conference rooms for the City of Joplin’s economic development team, the MOKAN Partnership, Downtown Joplin Alliance, and the Joplin Regional Community Foundation.
- CodeLab operated by Codefi, which will offer free and subsidized adult learn-to-code evening classes.
- A remote and coworking resource center with hot-desk workstations and conference room rentals.
LaunchPad will host the new MSSU Downtown Center, which will act as a new front door to the university. The Center will engage businesses, prospective students, alumni, and the community through the following entities:
- The local Small Business Development Center, which will continue to provide enhanced access to one-on-one small business consulting, training seminars, technical assistance, and forums.
- An internship hub to connect and place students with local businesses and nonprofits to launch careers and strengthen our workforce pipeline.
MSSU will also house a Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program within LaunchPad. This program will provide dual credit classes for high school students, focusing on applied technology and innovation in real world projects. Students from Joplin, Carl Junction, and Webb City who are interested in health sciences, business and entrepreneurship, media and marketing, criminal justice, education, engineering, software and information technology will be able to join.