As part of the Outstate reporting project, Missouri Business Alert surveyed members of the Mexico community to gauge the strength of the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem — that is, the network of individuals, organizations and institutions affecting the success of entrepreneurial ventures in Mexico.
In the survey, we considered six components of the ecosystem: educational institutions, entrepreneurs, established companies, government, investors and support organizations.
The scorecard compiled based on the surveys does not represent a statistically significant sample. Instead, it offers a glimpse of how a dozen key stakeholders from different parts of Mexico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem feel about the atmosphere for starting and growing businesses in their town.
We asked stakeholders to rate the different parts of that ecosystem on a scale from one to five, with one being the weakest and five being the strongest. Overall, Mexico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem received a rating of 3.93.
The city’s support organizations received the highest marks. Many who took the survey commented on the city’s tight-knit community and supportive spirit.
Below is a sampling of insights shared by different stakeholders about the components of Mexico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:
“In 12 months, we had raised $67,000 to buy equipment, and a year later, a mechatronics lab is opening up at (Moberly Area Community College – Mexico). It’s just this great collaboration between the educational institutions, the community and the employers.” – Dana Keller, executive director of the Mexico Chamber of Commerce
“(Moberly Area Community College – Mexico) is certainly supportive of what goes on in Mexico’s community and the other communities that we’re a part of. We have great partnerships with the K-12 system, and industry partnerships as well. MACC offers two-year degrees, and we also have some crew-tech programs.” – Caroline Groves, director of the Moberly Area Community College – Mexico Higher Education Center
“For the most part, retail and restaurants is what we have. Some marketing – but mostly restaurants and retail.” – Russell Runge, assistant city manager
“It’s kind of been up and down. But I feel right now, it’s very good, it’s very strong. We have a lot of restaurants around the town, we have a lot of stores around the town. We kind of gained one store at a time.” – Melody Farnen, owner of Melody’s Quality Jewelry
“When the firebrick company left, it did hurt the local economy. But we’re slowly starting to see businesses come back into Mexico.” – Kim Sydenstricker-Monte, co-owner of Sydenstricker John Deere
“We used to be the brick city. (A.P. Green) employed almost everyone in Mexico, it seemed like, and Mexico was really rolling in the dough. So when they closed, it put a lot of people in binds.” – Marissa Lightsey, owner of The Wild Child
“We’ve always got room for improvement, but we have really good collaboration with the Audrain County Commission, with the hospital, with the school system. We all pretty much see eye-to-eye and get along. You don’t see that in a lot of communities.” – Russell Runge
“We have this one program that if we wanted to redo the outside (of our storefront), we have that capability. We put in new windows last year. (The city) paid up to $5,000, so that was $5,000 I didn’t have to pay.” – Melody Farnen
“All the banks and all the credit unions provide loans to businesses. But we don’t have anything specific for just starting a startup.” – Russell Runge
“There’s a whole group of men that have formed a partnership that will buy downtown businesses and let new businesses come in and finance it for them. They’ll finance the purchase for the building for them.” – Dana Keller
“I just think, as a whole, that if you support the community, the community supports you … We kind of united. The city, the county, the chamber, the school district, the hospital, all of us.” – Dana Keller
“I think our chamber is pretty industrious in getting things started and rallying the community together.” – Caroline Groves