The Entrepreneur Academy was created in 2012 when the funding for the Southwest Mississippi Small Business Development Center was discontinued. Mississippi Development Authority, Natchez, Inc. and Alcorn State University were the original partners. Alcorn and Natchez, Inc. continue the partnership. The fourth session will begin on August 19, 2014. Throughout the four month course, sessions are scheduled every other week on Tuesday evenings at the APEX Center on the corner of Franklin and Wall Streets.
Small businesses make a huge positive impact on the economy. Their value and the role they play in our economy is sometimes underestimated because, they are, in fact, small. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, there are between 25 million and 27 million small businesses in the United States that account for 60 to 80 percent of all U.S. jobs.
Throughout the Academy, the participants hear from local professionals in all the critical areas of small business success. The sessions provide guidance for the development of a working business plan, and by the end of the session, each participants is expected to have a completed plan ready for possible implementation. Other critical topics include marketing, social media, insurance, legal considerations, taxes, financing, accounting, networking, and licensing and permits.
In 2013 a grant supporting the Creative Academy was secured and strengthened the focus on the value of creative entrepreneurs, i.e., artists, photographers, potters, musicians, writers, jewelry designers, florists, etc.
In 2013 the partnership developed the first Possibilities Tour “Turning Deserted Spaces Into Dynamic Places”. This one day empty building tour allowed local realtors to show their available downtown properties and highlighted the creativity of local entrepreneurs. Several of the properties on tour have been either leased or purchased or have become homes to expansion businesses. One of them is home to Natchez Brewing Company. Another Possibilities Tour is currently being planned.
The APEX Center (Accessing Potential For Entrepreneurial Excellence) is the home of the Entrepreneur Academy and also houses incubating businesses. Currently the Center is home to
-First session in 2012: Partnership with Alcorn State University, Natchez, Inc. and Mississippi Development Authority. Graduated 28 people in December, 2012.
-2013 – Spring – one-day Entrepreneur Explosion
-2013 session format changed from evening to weekend - graduated 19.
-First 2014 Session – graduated in May – 24 graduates
-Second 2014 Session – begins August 19, to register call 601.445.0288 or email contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 13!
The Entrepreneur Academy has received strong support from the community. Donations and volunteers have been key factors in the success of the Academy.
Staff: Dr. Ruth Nichols, Alcorn
Aimee Guido, Natchez, Inc.
Allen Terrell, Alcorn
Chandler Russ, Executive Director, Natchez, Inc.
Based on the skills that entrepreneurs need for success, additional training for small businesses is being delivered through the APEX Center.
Twitter for Small Businesses
Bricks to Clicks – using Facebook for business success
Small Business Administration seminars