HANNIBAL — After a comprehensive search, the Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council is pleased to announce the hiring of Maria Kuhns as Entrepreneurship Specialist.

Kuhns brings a wealth of knowledge in varying sectors to the Small Business Development Center position. She is currently completing graduate work at the University of Missouri and will graduate this spring with a Master of Science in Agricultural and Applied Economics. Kuhns begins work with HREDC on May 17.

“We had a deep applicant pool. Throughout the screening process, Maria distinguished herself as a quality applicant,” said Corey Mehaffy, Executive Director of HREDC. “Since we began offering SBDC services from our office in January of 2020, the demand for services in our seven-county service territory has been high. Maria brings successful experience in the ag sector, small business and teaching roles and we are excited to have her join our team”

The position is primarily funded with a grant from the University of Missouri Extension, funded in part through the U.S. Small Business Administration, to SBDCs in Missouri. HREDC provides SBDC services to a seven-county region, and Kuhns will provide additional entrepreneurship services to the two-county HREDC region. Kuhns will direct HREDC’s Ignite Program and lead the organization’s outreach to early- and second-stage companies.

Kuhns shared HREDC’s enthusiasm for the position.

“I’m so excited to serve small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the Hannibal region and surrounding counties,” she said. “Entrepreneurship is my passion, and I’ve been so impressed with the vibrancy and potential of northeastern Missouri.”

Kuhns will begin by completing onboarding and initial training with SBDC while she completes her graduate research role responsibilities at MU over the next few weeks. Once in Hannibal, she will hit the ground running meeting with stakeholders in the seven-county SBDC service territory and learning more about the HREDC region. The HREDC Board of Directors and staff would like to thank SBDC State Director Greg Tucker for his assistance throughout the hiring process.

HREDC works to promote financial investment in Hannibal, Palmyra and Marion and Ralls counties.

More information about the organization is available by visiting its website at

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