A national program designed to engage and encourage local entrepreneurs has come to Joplin, with a member of Missouri Southern’s faculty serving in a leadership role.

Dr. Dominic Buccieri, assistant professor of international business, is one of eight local organizers for 1 Million Cups.

“The way 1 Million Cups works is that every Wednesday at 9 a.m. local time across the country, the more than 160 chapters meet and have coffee – we call it connecting,” Buccieri said. “Two presenters have six minutes to tell a story about their business. They have to be an aspiring entrepreneur or have an existing business started within the last five years, and they tell everyone about things they’re having trouble with. Dominic Buccieri

“Then, there’s 20 minutes for the community to ask them questions and offer feedback. It’s not like ‘Shark Tank’ – it’s about offering support for businesses and young entrepreneurs.”

The weekly gatherings, which are free and open to the public, are held at the Advanced Training & Technology Center, 420 Grand Ave. in Joplin.

The national movement was created by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in April 2012 and has grown to more than 160 communities in 40 states, with more than 800 volunteers.

“From a campus standpoint, part of my interest is that we have entrepreneurship programs here on campus,” Buccieri said. “These are great programs and can help our students develop an entrepreneurial mindset. My hope is that MSSU students who are interested in starting a business will graduate and utilize this outlet in the community that is there to help them in developing that venture.

“1 Million Cups is really supportive of our students. When they graduate and go out into the real world, they’re going to have questions, roadblocks and stumbles. We have a burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem here, and this is an outlet open to anyone who is interested.”