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Meet Heather Fisher from West Plains, Missouri:

I am the director of OzSBI (Ozarks Small Business Incubator), which is where the event will be held. I mentor our small businesses, run our business development programs, assist with our microloan program, and am on a mission to get new ideas launched in our community. About me–I live on a 200 acre farm, have 2 sons, 1 husband, 3 cats, 1 dog and a pet pig. I love the outdoors, was in the Peace Corp in Thailand, had my own grant writing business for 10 years, and have always worked for nonprofits.

Why do you do what you do?

I live in a rural Ozarks of southern Missouri. Ever since I moved here 20 years ago I’ve been working to help the economy grow. Rural areas need to stay viable and through the small business incubator I help start local businesses and create jobs for the community. My goal is to use economic means to improve the social conditions for individuals, families, and communities.

What’s new for West Plains?

Techstars Startup Weekend! I was tasked by the governor of the state to spur technology businesses in Missouri. How does a rural community compete? If startups can be everywhere, why not here? We work with a lot of service communities that circulate local dollars. We’re hoping that an influx of tech businesses will tip the balance of trade and bring new dollars into our community.  Techstars Startup Weekend seems to be the right program to help us get our start.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Rural communities are great places to live and work.  I’ve traveled all around the world and always come back to rural parts of the country. We may be a flyover state, but there’s bright, creative people here that just need a bit of a confidence boost to move forward with new ideas in order to start new companies.


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Jordan Rothenberg Jordan Rothenberg
Jordan is the Manager for Techstars’ community programs including Startup Weekend, Startup Next, Startup Digest and Startup Week in the Central United States region. @jsrothenberg