North Mississippi entrepreneurs can ramp up their New Year’s resolutions this January with a new program called the Big Bad Business Series.
The nine-month program kicks off on Jan. 28 with a reception and information session organized by the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Foundation (EDF) and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (YAC).
The Big Bad Business Series is a combination of EDF programming, like the AdvoCare Challenge produced by the EDF and the Arts Incubator Workshop series produced by YAC. The new series will include seminars, workshops and action sessions designed to turn a great idea into a viable small business.
“We found that YAC and the EDF were offering similar programming to encourage small business growth in Lafayette County,” said Wayne Andrews, executive director of YAC. “Whether you’re in the creative arts, manufacturing or technology, there are commonalities in business that you have to know. The Big Bad Business Series helps streamline the program so we can have bigger payoffs—the action sessions, like Startup Weekend, the Gillespie Business Challenge for university students, and the Night of Genius in September.”
The program balances smaller seminars and workshops with large action events to help build networks between entrepreneurs and mentors from established businesses. Night of Genius will be a community event where participants in the program will explain their business idea and receive feedback from a panel of small business experts.
“People will be able to get in front of potential investors and also learn about and connect with the skills and resources of established businesses,” Andrews said.
The EDF is excited to launch the Big Bad Business Series and begin the work of assisting students, creative entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts reach their business development goals. This new program will encourage business to grow from within by offering participants an opportunity to engage with business development experts and learn about valuable local resources.
“We hope that participants will be encouraged to pursue their business dreams and get involved in the vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem for which Oxford is quickly becoming known,” Andrews said.
Other notable events will be the Ted Talks at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 28, a grant writing and state resources workshop with Diane Williams of the Mississippi Arts Commission on Jan. 27, and the first challenge meeting on Jan. 30 hosted by James Carden of the University of Mississippi Small Business Development Center.
“Each month will include a challenge meeting and an action session so that you can use the knowledge to advance your business idea to the next level,” said Meghan Gallagher, who is helping coordinate the program. “Most of the workshops and sessions are free, and we recognize that someone may not be able to make every session, but there are incentives for those attending more than one session.”
“We’re trying to build a community that fosters business. If we create it here, it will stay here. FNC was homegrown. What will these businesses be in 20 years?” Andrews said.
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