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Midwest University's new business incubator in Jefferson City is a different way to bring economic development possibilities to the area, Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce officials hope.

Midwest University, a private higher education facility in Wentzville, operates the Midwest International Research Institute that acts as a business incubation center in partnership with the city of Wentzville.

MIRI recently opened a business incubation center in Jefferson City at the Chamber of Commerce office on Adams Street.

"I'd developed a relationship with MIRI in the past six months as we were working with a South Korean company looking at possibly locating an operation in Missouri," Chamber Economic Development Director Missy Bonnot said. "MIRI does work with this company and others who are looking at new locations, so if we can develop relations with them and show the assets of how it would benefit these companies to be in the community where our state government is located, that's a bonus for us."

Bonnot said the contract with MIRI is for a year, but they hope MIRI will want to stay longer.

MIRI Director Christina Joung said their goals for the center include supporting research activities for their exchange research scholars; providing support for business customers living in areas near Jefferson City; providing effective job training and extended skills development for students, research scholars and business members; and providing courses for English language learners to have a productive experience academically and culturally in the United States.

"It's a chance for our scholars, professors, students and interns to observe how these government agencies work to complete their research," Joung said. "They come from South Korea, as well as other places in Asia such as China and Japan. They are looking at different area of government such as economics, infrastructure and education."

Joung said those in the program stay from six months to two years before going back to their home countries.

"We've had several meetings with state government officials, and they have been eager to help and support what we're doing," Joung said.

"In economic development, you have to try multiple things," Bonnot said. "We feel MIRI has a lot of great contacts, particularly in the Korean market, and hopefully that will lead to something happening for us."

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