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2/14/2020 - Jackson, Miss.

Creativity and talent are never in short supply in Mississippi. In many cases, Mississippians utilize their skills to develop great ideas for new businesses, products or services. While they have great ideas, they may need assistance getting those ideas off the ground.

Mississippi Public Universities understand their needs and offer programs, services and facilities necessary to help turn a big idea into a thriving business. National Entrepreneurship Week, observed February 15-22, 2020, provides a great opportunity to recognize university efforts to foster Mississippi’s entrepreneurs.

For 15 years, Delta State University has hosted its annual International Business Symposium to give attendees the opportunity to gain insights from and interact with some of the most successful business leaders in the country. Dr. David Abney ’76 and ’15, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of United Parcel Service, and his wife, Sherry, established the symposium in 2006 and it is free and open to the students, faculty and the public.

The year’s International Business Symposium will be held Tuesday, February 18 and Wednesday, February 19 on the Delta State University campus in Cleveland. Abney will again give the keynote address while Cher Porties, President, UPS Mid-South District; Melia Christensen, Marketing Manager, Ardor Learning Language for Life; and Natalie Allen, Anchor/Reporter, CNN International will also speak.

Delta State’s College of Business and Aviation offers many other entrepreneurial opportunities:

  • The Center for Business and Entrepreneurial Research serves as a mecca for entrepreneurs to develop business plans and find resources for working capital and business expansion. Its goal is to build economic capacity for new and existing small businesses by providing individualized technical support.
  • A Summer Youth Entrepreneurship Program creates a win-win relationship between male youth participants in 7th-12th grades and the community in which they reside. They are groomed to become future business professionals and owners; by doing so, they will contribute to the economic growth of their community. 
  • The Center for Economic Education offers workshops for K-12th grade teachers and student competitions. Workshops such as “Financial Fitness for Life” and “Entrepreneurial Thinking” give teachers opportunity to think outside the box and expose students to entrepreneurship and economics. A workshop called “Workforce Development for Special Needs Students” puts money into students’ hands to start a business at their local schools.
  • Students pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in general business can choose either entrepreneurship or general business administration as an area of emphasis. It provides students with a plan of study that allows them to be imaginative and creative with developing their own business.


Delta State’s nonpartisan Local Government Leadership Institute helps cities and towns across the 18 counties of the Mississippi Delta deal with governance challenges. Among its wide-ranging workshops that cover everything from city planning to records management to racial harmony, relevant workshops focus on economic growth and workforce development. In fact, a March 19, 2020, session will be entitled, “Supporting and Encouraging Entrepreneurship.”


At Delta State’s Delta Music Institute, students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in entertainment industry studies can select entertainment industry entrepreneurship as one of three areas of concentration. (The other two are audio engineering technology and multimedia technology.) The entertainment industry entrepreneurship track focuses students on the creative and business side of the entertainment industry in areas such as songwriting, concert promotion, record production, and music publishing.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities named the University of Mississippi an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University, a designation that recognizes the university’s strong commitment to economic engagement and its work with public and private sector partners in Mississippi and the region.

UM joined more than 60 other top universities named by the association and known for their leadership in fostering economic growth, prosperity and innovation. While UM has long-established partnerships and provides support to business and industry in the state and region, the designation will help UM grow and strengthen its activities and partnerships that foster economic prosperity in the state through both research, innovation and experiential education opportunities for its students. 

The Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park at Mississippi State University is an ideal environment for high technology and related businesses. Adjacent to the campus, the park offers its tenants technical assistance from university, business and industry outreach programs and services, and access to state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation at competitive rates.


Mississippi State University also offers the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, a business center that offers every kind of support a nascent entrepreneur needs, from glass idea walls to seed money grants for new businesses. Offering 12,000 square feet, the Center provides a world-class launch pad for startup ventures. Expansive collaboration space, offices, meeting areas and workstations built through private donations foster ideas and encourage action.


The E-Center and business incubator has helped students from 40 different majors start their own businesses and have an impressive track record of success. Cross-discipline faculty help students understand economic demands and refine their ideas through a standardized track that results in step-by-step game plans for implementation.

Jackson State University recently established the Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development to foster creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. In addition to providing industry the opportunity to engage with students and researchers to help solve challenges, The Center also provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses.


Students, faculty and staff have access to virtual experiences with Oculus VR technology and 3D printing to develop whatever they imagine. There is also a soundproof room to create top-quality podcasts and green screen backgrounds for video production. Each of these cutting-edge technologies are housed in a vast “expertise co-location” center, “makerspace” and Collaboratory, located on the 2nd floor of the H.T. Sampson Library.


Designed as a “one-stop shop,” the Center also houses experts who can provide advice on technology transfer and moving innovative products and ideas to the market. 


National Entrepreneurship Week is a congressionally-chartered initiative founded in 2006. 


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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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