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May 10, 2012 Volume 33, No. 31

Sherri Helm

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Sherri Helm

Executive Staff Assistant II, Office of Economic Development

Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award

Sherri Helm is the only full-time staff support for Office of Economic Development (OED), which began as a part-time office in 2006. Helm played a key role in launching the full-time office in 2010. 

According to one nominator, the OED is the “eHarmony of university departments,” serving as the connector between business and education, research and government. “We bring people together for collaborative opportunities and mutual benefits. Sherri has been instrumental in providing leadership and initiative when working with various entities.”

Having worked at MU for almost 30 years, Helm has a deep understanding of the office’s function and outreach possibilities, as well as a deep knowledge of campus programs.

Helm assists the vice provost for economic development in building partnerships between university researchers and industry leaders. She is a strong advocate for MU’s expansion in metropolitan Kansas City.

The vice provost’s economic development team relies on her judgment involving MU’s economic development initiatives. She plans and arranges meetings and conference calls with skill and efficiency. She pulls the team together if it needs to discuss something specific. The team has confidence in her ability to keep the economic development initiatives moving forward. 

Initially, when new businesses were brought in to visit Columbia or the surrounding areas, OED instituted a statement of support. Helm has created dozens of these statements, each specific to the particular company and its business function. Additionally, she creates a list of key faculty who are specific to the companies’ interests. 

One challenge the office faces is lack of personnel. With the two people in the office handling several projects at once, there hasn’t been time to keep the office’s website and social media current. 

Helm took the initiative to assist a student-worker in preparing a job description and project outline for a professional development internship course through the Trulaske College of Business. This enables an intern to handle the social media projects for a semester, plus earn three hours of credit.