COLUMBIA, Mo. – Codefi and the Center on Rural Innovation are joint 2024 Gold Sponsors for University of Missouri Extension’s Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC), a conference dedicated to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in rural areas.

The conference, Sept. 17-19 in Fulton, brings together leaders, innovators and change-makers to explore strategies for driving economic growth in rural communities, said Annette Kendall, chair of the MU Extension CEC state team.

“We are thrilled to partner with the MU Extension Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference,” said James Stapleton, president and CEO of Codefi. “At Codefi, we believe in the power of entrepreneurship to transform communities, and we are committed to delivering programs that foster innovation and create quality jobs and economic growth in areas often overlooked. We look forward to sharing our expertise and insights with conference attendees and collaborating with other stakeholders to help create capacity.”

Codefi provides high-growth venture and tech workforce development programs and services that eliminate the skills and opportunity gaps preventing workers and entrepreneurs in smaller metro areas, cities and rural communities across southern Missouri from thriving in the digital economy. Codefi was founded in Cape Girardeau in 2014 and has expanded to Springfield to serve the 47 southernmost counties in Missouri.

Partnering with Codefi as Gold Sponsor is the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing economic prosperity in rural America through entrepreneurship and technology-driven innovation.

“At CORI, we are passionate about creating opportunities for rural communities to thrive in the digital economy,” said Matt Dunne, CORI founder and executive director. “We are excited to partner with the MU Extension Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference to further our shared mission of empowering entrepreneurs and fostering innovation in rural areas. By working together, we can unlock the full potential of rural America and build a brighter future for all.”

Kendall expressed gratitude for the support of Codefi and CORI as a joint Gold Sponsor of the conference. “The partnership between Codefi, CORI and the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference exemplifies our collective commitment to driving positive change in rural communities,” she said. “We are excited to collaborate with Codefi and CORI to create an engaging and impactful conference experience that empowers entrepreneurs and spurs economic growth in rural Missouri and beyond.”

Kendall said the 2024 Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference in Fulton promises to be a dynamic and informative event, featuring keynote presentations, breakout sessions and networking opportunities aimed at inspiring and equipping attendees to drive entrepreneurship and innovation in their communities.

The Callaway Chamber of Commerce, serving as the local host for the event, also expressed enthusiasm for the partnership. “We are delighted to welcome Codefi and CORI as Gold Sponsors for the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference,” said Tamara Tateosian, chief executive officer of the chamber. “Their support underscores the importance of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in rural communities, and we look forward to working together to make this year’s conference a resounding success.”

For more information about Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities, visit

About Codefi

Codefi is a nationally recognized tech-based development non-profit organization that specializes in deploying an innovation ecosystem by building and attracting software-focused companies, educating and training tech talent and founders, and expanding the tech economy to improve the quality of lives, companies, and communities. Codefi and the efactory at Missouri State University, are co-creators of the Southern Missouri Innovation Network (Innovate SOMO), a regional collaborative working to unlock the full potential of entrepreneurship and innovation to transform entire communities in the southernmost 47 counties in Missouri.

About CORI

The Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) is a national nonprofit committed to advancing economic prosperity in rural America through the creation of inclusive tech economy ecosystems that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation. Established in 2017, CORI is at the heart of a dynamic social enterprise focused on closing the rural opportunity gap. To maximize all possible resources to address this critical problem, the organization partners with a taxable nonprofit, Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RISI), and a seed fund, the CORI Innovation Fund, focused on early-stage technology companies located in rural areas. For more information, visit