UM System Cuts Commitment to Enterprise Investment Programs

Related Story

COLUMBIA - Residents reacted Thursday to the announcement that the UM system is cutting back on its Enterprise Investment Program prior to making any actual investments. Interim President Stephen Owens announced Wednesday he would reduce the fund next year by $2.18 million dollars. He made the decision in response to the governor's announcement of an additional $4.4 million dollar cut to the UM System's budget next year.

"The pain we are going to feel is not being felt yet because this is a new program," said Michael Brooks, the president of Regional Economic Development Inc., a local nonprofit that helps bring jobs and entrepreneurs to Columbia. "The program was one that we are viewing with great anticipation."

The funding to the program for the fiscal year ending Thursday remained the same at $5 million to invest. Jennifer Hollingshead, the director of marketing and public relations for the UM System, said the fund is expected to announce this year's recipients soon. She did not specify what "soon" means. The Enterprise Investment Program timeline web page says a second round decision for the applicants will be made by "June 31st," even though June has just 30 days

"It looks like we are slightly behind," said Hollingshead. "I think we are close."

"The likely effect of this cut will be felt in the form of fewer new businesses and new jobs created as a result of the program," said Owens in his e-mail announcing the cut.

"This is a bad message as we think about the impact to that research," said Brooks. "We really need as we go forward to find ways to support bringing those technologies out of the laboratories and into the market place."