Our Story

Our mission is to provide adults with disabilities the ongoing training and support necessary to allow choices and the ability to maintain a satisfying quality of life.


Missouri’s Sheltered Workshop legislation was developed in 1965 as a way to provide employment opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities. Today there are 89 sheltered workshops in the state of Missouri that employ over 6000 disabled adults and generate over $120 million dollars in contract revenue annually. Initially in Columbia, CMSE was established by Woodhaven Learning Center along with several other local associations and agencies. In 1969, the Workshop began operation with 15 employees and two paid staff members.  In 2004 the name was changed to Central Missouri Subcontracting Enterprises.

Although CMSE is a non-for-profit, much of its income is derived from the contract work it completes for local businesses. CMSE simply would not exist if it were not for the support of its local business partners including 3-M Company, Group Schneider, Industrial Textiles, Miller Imaging, Otscon, Paternity testing, Weaver Manufacturing and the University of Missouri. In 1996, CMSE expanded opportunities to its employees by providing on-site employment services.  This program has allowed employees to go to work at local job sites with the support of a CMSE staff member (Job coach). This program has proven to be very successful as well as a great opportunity for many of our employees.

On May 1 2018, CMSE celebrated a new chapter in its almost 50 years of service by opening a Day/Retirement Program called the Next Step Day Program. This program will allow those employees who wish to retire the opportunity to continue to remain in contact with all of their friends/family here at CMSE.


The Board of Directors at CMSE consists of from 10 to 15 volunteer members, drawn from the business community, parents and other concerned citizens from the community. Board members serve a 3-year term. Currently, the workshop staff consists of 13 Supervisors, a Bookkeeper, a receptionist, and a Director. Our administrative cost is less than 10%, which is well below the norm for most other non-for-profit organizations such as us.

President: Curtis Varnes

Vice President: Connie Leipard

Treasurer: Darin Pries

Secretary: Lynn Montgomery

Board Members: Bernie Andrews, Brian Jackson, Ed Scavone, Kelly Mescher, Grant Miller, Geanine Moyer, Mike Nichols, Robert Wolverton, Marni Ardrey


In early 2009 CMSE lost work from one of its major contractors and other business opportunities were explored. After extended research and planning, the board approved the start-up of a greenhouse/nursery business to help supplement the contract income and allow the workshop to be less dependent on other companies. CMSE Giving Gardens opened for business on April 15th of 2010. This has provided many job opportunities and in fact is actually therapeutic in nature for many of our employees.