Tupelo, MS Center for IDEAs Helps Entrepreneurs
Innovators get solid starts and business incubator
PHOTO CREDIT: Brian McCord
Josh Mabus started his Mabus Agency advertising company in 2008 out of his house, but he quickly became frustrated with distractions like laundry and TV programs that deflected his attention, he says.
Mabus contacted officials with the Renasant Center for IDEAs, a two-story building on East Main Street that serves as a regional incubator for developing small businesses, entrepreneurs and startups in the Tupelo/Lee County area. The Center has meeting rooms, a conference room and 27 office spaces for lease.
“We leased an office and had free access to the copier machine, conference room, Wi-Fi, meeting rooms and on-site business experts,” Mabus says.
His agency has since become a full-service advertising firm, outgrew the incubator and expanded twice.
“Our company meets with clients to develop their advertising strategy, using our great branding program, web development, print graphic designers and TV production facility,” Mabus says. “We started six years ago at the Renasant Center just looking for space, but also had access to CPAs, attorneys and long-term business people to help us. The Center gave us confidence and steered us in the right direction early in our company journey.”
Incubator Boosts Wide Range of Businesses
The Renasant Center for IDEAs, managed by the Community Development Foundation, has produced 15 operating companies that account for 360 jobs in Tupelo/Lee County. Success stories include Hyperion Technology Group, Manufacturing Solutions Center and Tidy Cleanup Services.
“Besides the 15 graduate companies, we currently have 26 client companies in the building that are producing 140 jobs,” says Judd Wilson, Renasant Center for IDEAS manager. “We operate a mixed-use center with clients that include service companies, computer companies, photographers, videographers, marketing companies and even an attorney who came to us fresh out of law school and currently is graduating from the incubator.”
Wilson adds that the facility houses a Mississippi Small Business Development Center, which can help entrepreneurs with information on applying for grants or loans, assistance with business plans, advice on insurance, and more.
“We’re also involved with an annual Startup Weekend sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation and Google that features about 40 college-age entrepreneurs pitching their ideas on a Friday night to a distinguished panel, then the top eight ideas are developed during the remainder of the weekend,” he says. “The top winners get free office space at Renasant Center for two months during the summer to further develop their concepts.”
Renasant Center for IDEAS: Already 100 Clients
Scott Chase became a tenant at Renasant Center in October 2012 as he developed his business concept called Chase Computer Services, which customizes easy-to-use software for companies. Today, his company has nearly 100 clients.
“My whole Renasant Center experience has been great,” Chase says. “It’s a convenient location for talking with customers, the building is clean, the people are easy to work with, and the entire Center fosters an environment for growing my business.”