Downtown Springfield Association
Business Resources

ASCEND program: Advancing Springfield’s Commitment to Entrepreneurship, Networking and Diversity

April 12, 2022

The West Central Neighborhood, which is comprised of Springfield’s Downtown Community Improvement District (CID) and the residential neighborhood to the west and south of Downtown, is one of southwest Missouri’s most diverse areas with a 21% black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) population. However, that number goes down to 10% when looking across the Springfield city limits. The number of BIPOC owned businesses in Downtown is even smaller still at less than 5%. The Downtown Springfield Association (DSA) partners with U.S. Bank to close these historical gaps to support BIPOC small business development through a new initiative called ASCEND – Advancing Springfield’s Commitment to Entrepreneurship, Networking & Diversity with resources specifically targeted for recruiting and empowering BIPOC business owners.


Through a new $25,000 grant made possible by US Bank, up to five BIPOC business owners will receive a grant to start their business in Center City Springfield. Grants will be awarded by working with the identified needs of the new business and in conjunction with existing resources from the Springfield Finance & Development Corporation, City of Springfield and other community organizations. This grant program is limited to new and expanding businesses with storefront locations in Center City Springfield.

Recipients must commit to the following milestones for engagement:

  • Meet with representatives from US Bank and City of Springfield Loan Officer to explore financing options.
  • Complete one training program through the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at MSU and efactory to strengthen
    the owner’s professional development (offered at no-charge to the award recipient).
  • Engage in one-on-one assistance provided at no-charge with the Missouri SBDC at MSU.
  • Attend one Minority in Business meeting to interact with minority business owners and advocates.
  • Meet with DSA Communications Manager to learn about leveraging Downtown communications.
  • Attend one DSA Mixer to connect with fellow Downtown business owners and stakeholders.

Additional optional support for the business owner provided by the efactory and Missouri SBDC at MSU:

  • Dedicated business consultant to assist with any business guidance needs (e.g. business
    planning, financial projections and assistance, strategic planning).
  • Office Hours – Access to professionals who want to help you and your business succeed (e.g.
    accountants, attorney, bankers, technology, government contracting).
  • Mentorship – Designed to provide honest and practical feedback based on personal experience,
    not just business theory.
  • 50% discount on further Missouri SBDC at MSU and efactory training programs.
  • Three 10-Day Coworking passes at the efactory.
  • 50% off conference room and meeting space reservations.
  • One year Downtown Springfield Association (DSA) membership.
  • One year Minorities in Business (MIB) membership.

Deadline to apply is April 29, 2022. All interested applicants can below.