Some Pretty Amazing Things are Happening for Entreprenuers in Middle America

by Greg Prestemon

You might have missed it, but last week Beyoncé announced she and Jay-Z are having twins—and she made her announcement by posing in just her underwear.

Before I go any further, I must say the following things are happening right at this moment that, just a few years ago, I thought would never happen.

  1. I’m working on a blog post.
  2. The blog post includes the following words: Beyoncé, Jay-Z, pregnancy, and underwear.

I don’t live in an ivory tower—I enjoy gossip about celebrity couples as much as the next 60ish-year-old man does—but that’s not why I’m writing about Beyoncé and her underwear.

I’m writing about Beyoncé because the underwear she was wearing in the photo accompanying her announcement was made by Liviara, a lingerie company that got its start in OPO Startups, right here in St. Charles, Missouri. Liviara, led by founder Kara Gatto, has since moved into a building of its own, and has generated a significant amount of buzz in the fashion world.

But there’s buzz, and then there’s Beyoncé wearing underwear you designed while announcing that not only are she and Jay-Z rock solid as a couple (I might be older but I don’t live under a rock; I know there’s been some trouble in paradise there)—they are even having babies.

Two of them at the same time.

And they let the world know in underwear designed by the team at St. Charles-based Liviara.

Though it’s not as splashy, another recent success story coming out of our county is Dave Engineering. Incorporated in 2012 by David Jones, an engineer who got his start at NASA, the company became a tenant in the EDC startup facility in May 2013.

Dave Engineering works on some pretty amazing projects. They helped create the oven Subway uses to toast sandwiches—and a quarantine unit for use on an airplane.

Tasty sandwiches, burgers, and the ability to limit the Plague from being brought here by someone on a flight over from Paris—all thanks to Dave Engineering, which now has 11 employees, two interns, and more opportunity than they know what to do with.

Liviara and Dave Engineering are very different companies—but they share some things in common. Both were bootstrapped and grew because of their founders’ talent and determination, not because they received millions of dollars in venture capital.

And both are doing big things from right here in St. Charles County, which is right in the middle of America.

If you’re reading this and you’re not from here, you might not know that our county is the picture of Middle America. Like the rest of Middle America, we have our challenges.

Like having one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, businesses starved for talented people, and companies that are having to learn how to make the most of incredible opportunities.

Liviara is having to learn how to handle an influx of attention due to one of the world’s biggest celebrities unexpectedly endorsing its product.

Dave Engineering is having to learn how to deal with the explosive growth that happens when the world learns your company is apparently good at every project it works on.

In other words, we have challenges—good challenges, but we are not the Middle America you might read about in the news. We are not the Middle America filled with heroin and empty factories.

We’re a place where, like Kara Gatto of Liviara and David Jones of Dave Engineering, you can come and leverage a low cost of living, talented workers, and a community rooting for you to do big things.

Come to our community, and before you know it you might be saving us from the Plague.

Or perhaps doing something even bigger.

Like putting your underwear on Beyoncé.

Greg Prestemon is President and CEO of the St. Charles County EDC Business and Community Partners.