The Local Voice

Entrepreneurship Forum to Provide Practical Business Advice in Mississippi


April 12-13, 2023 event includes networking, student pitch competition

Bringing together entrepreneurs, economic developers, innovators, and future business owners, the eighth annual Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum is slated for April 12-13, 2023, in Hattiesburg.

Coordinated by the University of Mississippi‘s Grisham-McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, the event is designed to educate participants on the entrepreneurial climate and the future of entrepreneurship in Mississippi. The institute receives planning support from a team that includes members from all Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning schools, private colleges, and universities, and key statewide organizations.

“The Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum serves to connect universities and colleges to community and business partners in the state to raise awareness of the various entrepreneurial initiatives underway,” said Albert Nylander, the institute’s director. “This is also a time for university faculty, staff and students working in the entrepreneurial space to network and share ideas for growing and sustaining economic development within Mississippi.”

Registration and speaker information can be found on the event website. The forum will provide working opportunities for aspiring business owners and thriving entrepreneurs to share practical information about building a business.

Attendees will learn about successful case studies, as well as resources and strategies available to entrepreneurs from institutions of higher education and other key organizations.

Mississippi college students will have an opportunity to participate in the NextUp! Student Pitch Competition on April 13. The competition is designed to showcase and provide feedback to student-led startups.

New this year, selected participants will be paired with mentors from the Mississippi Small Business Development Center, headquartered at Ole Miss, to prepare for the competition.

Competitors receive feedback from judges, who are a mix of business owners, business resource providers and other business leaders in the state. Winners receive cash prizes to help them grow their businesses.

Applications for the competition will be accepted online from Jan. 18 to Feb. 27.

“The NextUP! competition is a great opportunity for student entrepreneurs from our Mississippi colleges, community colleges and universities to come together, pitch their businesses and compete statewide for prizes,” said Tasha Bibb, senior program manager for Mississippi State University’s Office of Technology Management and coordinator of the competition.

“Our hope is that students use this as an opportunity to meet other student entrepreneurs and establish relationships with statewide mentors in addition to the mentorship they receive on their campuses.”

The Mississippi Development Authority serves as lead sponsor of the NextUp! competition, with additional funding support from Innovate Mississippi and other donors.

The 2023 Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum is part of the Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development initiative, funded through a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation. Previous events have been held in Clarksdale, Tupelo, Greenwood, Oxford, Jackson, Ridgeland, and Vicksburg.

CEED Innovation Scholars Jhalen Wells (left) and Kyion White attend the 2022 Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum in Vicksburg. Submitted photo
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