Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Jefferson City, MO

Jefferson City, MO

Jefferson City’s location in central Missouri is another factor that works in its favor – in addition to local support, resources available in larger cities like St. Louis and Kansas City are just a few hours away.

Jefferson City, MO, named for founding father Thomas Jefferson, is the state’s capital despite only being its 15th-most populous city. Jefferson City along with nearby Columbia (the state’s fourth-largest and fastest-growing city) make-up a major entrepreneurial hub in the middle of the state. The city’s location in central Missouri is another factor that works in its favor – in addition to local support, resources available in larger cities like St. Louis and Kansas City are just a few hours away.

Jefferson City also benefits from low business costs, according to WalletHub: the city’s ranking of 9th overall in the “Business Costs” category helped earn in 86th place on the site’s 2019 rankings of the best small cities to start a business. The Columbia metropolitan area, which borders the Jefferson City metro area to the north, also has an entrepreneurial pedigree, ranking 16th overall in Livability’s 2017 rankings of the best cities for entrepreneurs. Additionally, Columbia appeared at 10th overall in Silicon Prairie News’ 2018 State of the Silicon Prairie report, which ranked startup communities throughout the Midwest.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Jefferson City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Based down the road from Jefferson City, the Columbia Investing Meetup is an opportunity for those in the area interested in becoming an investor, connecting with investors and more.

Toastmasters International, an organization that works to help improve its members’ leadership and communication skills, has a branch in the Columbia/Jefferson City area.

CoMo REI is a group of those interested in real estate investment in and around the Columbia, Missouri area that allows its members to make connections with one another.

DevComo is a meetup group focused on development and design, in which members interested in software development meet one another and make connections.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Entrepreneurs in Jefferson City can present their startups and small businesses to receive feedback at regular 1 Million Cups events in the city.

Down the road from Jefferson City, the Columbia Chamber hosts a wide variety of events related to business, including networking events and educational workshops.

The Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce hosts regular special events, including an annual gala, awards ceremonies, a small business expo and more.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, located in Jefferson City, hosts events throughout the state, including STEM Day, the Transportation Future Summit and more.


Startup Competitions:

Entrepreneur Quest is a combination startup competition and accelerator program for students at the University of Missouri and other University of Missouri system schools.

The Pitch is an annual business plan competition for students at Columbia College that offers $10,000 in cash prizes to three winning teams.

The Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce hosts StartUp Jefferson City, an annual pitch competition that offers a grand prize of $5,000 to its winning competitor.


Co-working Spaces:

Located in downtown Jefferson City, Campus Coworking Space offers four different membership levels and 24/7 access to its variety of amenities.

Down the road in Columbia, The Hatchery is a co-working space that offers flexible, month-to-month memberships and business development services.

Regus Offices, which organizes and offers office space in cities throughout the country, has five co-working locations in the Columbia area.



Columbia Gadget Works is a hackerspace down the road in Columbia that provides members with 24/7 access to the working space and hosts weekly Open Hack nights for the public.

LabSpace Robotics is a makerspace specifically designed for children and their families, to help give young people in Jefferson City the opportunity to learn about programming and robotics.

Students at the University of Missouri down the road in Columbia have access to the school’s MU I.C.E. Lab, a small makerspace in Townsend Hall.



The Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce provides a number of Small Business Outreach resources to help support small businesses in the city.

Located in Columbia, the Missouri Innovation Center offers a variety of incubation services for life science and technology startups in the area.

Lincoln University in Jefferson City is home to a Small Business Development Center that works to launch and support small businesses located in the area.



The Coulter Biomedical Accelerator is a program run by the University of Missouri that provides funding and support to help accelerate biomedical innovations.

Students at the University of Missouri and other system schools can compete in Entrepreneur Quest, a combination competition and accelerator program for student startups.

The Missouri Innovation Center runs the Accelerator Fund, a fund that provides investments of up to $50,000 as well as support services for technology-based businesses.



Columbia College’s Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship runs an entrepreneurship major, an annual pitch competition, and a number of other resources for students.

One of the goals of Lincoln University’s Business Administration program is to prepare students for careers in business and private entrepreneurship.

Students at the University of Missouri have access to a wide array of support and educational resources, including undergraduate and graduate programs in entrepreneurship.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Students at the University of Missouri can participate in the Allen Angel Capital Education Program, where students interested in investing run an investment firm for startups.

Centennial Investors is an angel investment firm located in Columbia that offers investments and other support for high-growth startups throughout Missouri.

The Missouri Innovation, Development, and Entrepreneurial Advancement Funds are a group of investment funds for high-tech startups located throughout the state.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Missouri Business Alert sends news and updates about business happenings around the state, and readers can subscribe to get email updates.

Silicon Prairie News, which covers business news throughout Missouri and the rest of the Midwest, offers a daily email newsletter.

The University of Missouri offers a wide variety of newsletters for subscribers, including several focusing on a variety of industries and other business news in the area.


Are you familiar with an entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Jefferson City not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Kansas City, MO, St. Louis, MO, Lincoln, NE

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.