Friday, April 16, 2010
A new collaborative venture run by Jackson's New Horizon Ministries seeks to promote entrepreneurship and develop the city's existing small businesses. The Jackson Business Accelerator will connect potential entrepreneurs and current business owners with resources, program manager Michael Harris said at a press conference this morning.
"A significant part of what we're doing is to beat the bushes to let folks know that if they've been thinking about starting a business, now is the time to come out and get some help to move forward," Harris said.
The program received $200,000 in initial funding from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security through a federal economic stimulus grant. Harris said that he hopes to raise more money through individual contributions and private foundation grants.
The Business Accelerator's goal is to coordinate the efforts of state and local development agencies to better serve small businesses in Jackson.
"Everyone has their own mission and their own focus," Harris said. "Right now there's no one place a business owner can go to, to find out what resources and business training are available to them. They would need to go to each individual agency, whether it be the Small Business Development Center here at Jackson State, whether it be the Mississippi Development Authority."
Harris also plans to pair motivated, trained businesses and economic-development interns with business owners. The interns will provide advice and services like accounting to businesses that could not normally afford them.
"Because a lot of small business owners are sole proprietors, they don't have all the skills it takes, they don't have the money it takes to hire professionals," Harris explained. "In many cases, if they did have the money, they wouldn't really know how to evaluate the services that they need."
The organization's last objective is to promote and cultivate entrepreneurship in Jackson, especially in the city's African American communities. Harris said that he and his small staff will start an outreach campaign next week with appearances on the radio and at churches.
"We want to get the conversation of business creation and business development a part of the general community conversation, so that we're not complaining about what folks are not doing," Harris said.
For more information, contact Michael Harris: 601-540-5415. The Jackson Business Accelerator will be open Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 1770 Ellis Avenue, Suite 100
This will be good for South Jackson.