COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Columbia man launched a business, published a children's book and created a nonprofit after serving eight years in prison.
Cory Crosby now has his heart set on opening a business incubator that welcomes Columbia's minority entrepreneurs.
Crosby is trying to fundraise $100,000 to open an incubator, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported. The facility would expand upon the mission of his nonprofit, Innovated Dreamz, which works to help Columbia businesses grow.
Crosby envisions a project that would support minority community members, who often find local projects such as the Regional Economic Development Inc.'s Innovation Hub to be unwelcoming.
"It's bigger than an incubator," Crosby said. "It's a hub where people can come and have a community that supports innovation."
Minority-owned businesses often struggle to gain access to capital or loans. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, minority business owners receive loans of $149,000 on average, compared to non-minority owned businesses' $310,000.
Collin Bunch, REDI entrepreneurship coordinator, agreed with Crosby that incubators typically invest around high-performing tech companies in a field that's dominated by young white males. He said the Innovation Hub tries to reach out to minority members. He didn't know of the demographics of the current hub members.
"In general, I think most communities have set up their structure not necessarily around minorities," Bunch said.
Crosby said he wants his venture to welcome all communities.
If he reaches his fundraising goal, Crosby said the incubator could open as early as October.
"We really think it's something that's needed," Crosby said.
Crosby was sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbery in 2008. After he was released, he created 2 Real Fitness in 2016 to help financially struggling community members access fitness programs. He's also published a children's book to help explain the absence of an incarcerated parent.