Renasant Center for IDEAs in Tupelo, MS
Imaginative thinking is always being cooked up at the Renasant Center for IDEAs‚ Tupelo’s incubator for small businesses with big dreams.
IDEAs in this case stands for Innovation‚ Development and Entrepreneurship in Action‚ and that’s exactly what this 28‚089-square-foot facility – strategically located in downtown’s Fairpark district – is designed to encourage.
“We focus on providing business-building services to entrepreneurs‚” says Wayne Averett‚ vice president of entrepreneurship and small business development for the Community Development Foundation and the Renasant Center.
Those services include free business counseling from Dr. Frank Wiebe‚ a retired University of Mississippi business professor‚ and Bill Burge‚ a specialist who helps businesses land contracts with federal, state, county and city governments.
The center also offers flexible leases with favorable terms, and common areas such as a training/conference room and a workroom equipped with office machines. The hope is that the businesses occupying the center will outgrow it and be ready to move out in just two years‚ a year less than the national average for business incubators.
“I help entrepreneurs with business plans‚ financing of start ups‚ and financial projections‚” Wiebe says.
And Burge‚ executive director of the Northeast Mississippi Contract Procurement Center‚ has worked with about 300 Mississippi-based businesses in 23 counties. He gets them set up to automatically receive appropriate bid opportunities advertised by federal‚ state and local government purchasing/contracting offices.
“If they’ve never done a bid‚ we help them understand the process and get their bid prepared‚” Burge says. “There is a learning curve involved with it‚ especially with the federal government. But they are also the largest consumer in the country‚ and there are lots of opportunities.”
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