Mississippi State's College of Business is receiving an additional $650,000 grant to leverage university resources for economic development.
The award from the federal Economic Development Administration will enable the university to continue housing a University Center, an entity designed as a resource for entrepreneurs in rural areas. This grant comes on the heels of an additional $1,065,000 awarded to MSU and announced by the White House last week to stimulate jobs in the rural Delta and Appalachian counties.
"This EDA grant will further enable MSU's College of Business to have a real, measurable impact on creating jobs and opportunities for Mississippi businesses and communities," said Jeffrey Rupp, director of outreach for MSU's College of Business.
The mission of the EDA within the U.S. Department of Commerce is to promote innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.
The University Center will partner with the Venture Incubator, a non-profit organization in Jackson, to meet entrepreneurial needs by taking training to people in rural areas rather than requiring them to come to the campus to benefit from university resources.
"I think of it in terms of 'building out the last mile of entrepreneurship,' and by that I mean that we're helping to create a support system for entrepreneurs in areas where they haven't necessarily had strong resources in the past," Rupp said. He explained that local people will be used in each community to engage others in the training programs, which include mentoring and assisting entrepreneurs as they consider business opportunities, make plans for successful business plans and weigh risks and other factors that may affect their outcomes.
"Local business leaders who have relationships within their own communities will be key to connecting aspiring entrepreneurs and encouraging them," he added.
"It also gives our students and faculty the chance to make a difference by carrying out the service mission of a land-grant institution," Rupp said. "We do this primarily by providing businesses around the state with research teams of MBA graduate students to help them with marketing, new products, logistics, and other pertinent issues."
Drew St. John, chief executive officer of New South Mats in Madison, said his company was fortunate to tap into a valuable resource as part of the program. Recently named by Inc. magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing companies, New South manufactures mats for heavy equipment which minimize environmental effects of operation.
"Our team of three outstanding graduate students delivered high level data, research, market intelligence, and summary recommendations that are proving vital to the success and growth of our business," St. John said.
MSU is the state's only university receiving the five-year grant. For more information about Mississippi State University, see www.msstate.edu.