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Coming Soon: A Tech Hub in Jackson, MS

New tech district aims to transform downtown Jackson by creating jobs, attracting tech entrepreneurs and supporting small businesses.

By Kim Madlom on February 11, 2023

STEAM Immersion Summer Program in Jackson, MS
Cynthia Gooden

An economic revival is happening in Jackson, MS, as a homegrown entrepreneur uses her experience and success to join with Jackson Metro leaders to help the city reach new heights.

Dr. Nashlie Sephus, an entrepreneur, Amazon computer scientist and Jackson native, is the driving force behind a transformative project in downtown Jackson. The plans now under development will turn the region into a tech hub, create jobs, attract tech entrepreneurs and support small businesses.

And that’s just the beginning.

“My goal is to turn this space into a self-sustaining village where people can live, work, play, eat and innovate,” she says. “It’s going to be a vibrant vibe of like-minded people working toward goals, supporting entrepreneurship and having fun.”

“We’re not trying to change the culture of Jackson, we’re trying to enhance it.”

Dr. Nashlie Sephus, district founder

Creating A Tech Hub in Jackson

The Jackson Tech District, founded by Sephus, is being developed on 12 acres downtown along Gallatin Street that once housed the Jackson Paper Co.

The plan is ambitious, but Sephus has a proven record of reaching her goals. She earned a computer engineering degree from Mississippi State University and a master’s and Ph.D. in computer engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

As chief technology officer, she led the startup Partpic, a visual recognition tech company that she and the co-founders sold to Amazon in 2016. Sephus now leads a similar team at Amazon.

About the Tech District

The project calls for multiple buildings and spaces to house an electronics lab, an innovation center, apartments geared toward the workforce and students, restaurants and a grocery store.

With experience and success in the tech industry, nonprofit world, academia and corporate environment, she’s leveraging those strengths toward improving her community. Sephus has already invested in the future of Jackson and its residents.

In 2018, she founded The Bean Path, a nonprofit incubator and tech consulting organization that provides technical advice and guidance to individuals and small businesses. Initially, the organization partnered with local libraries to offer free technical expertise and guidance to individuals and small businesses in the community.

In four years, Bean Path has grown from a few of Sephus’ tech-professional friends volunteering their time to a full-fledged program with three full-time and eight part-time employees, program managers and lots of volunteers.

Makerspace Opens

Bean Path recently moved into Makerspace, the organization’s permanent home within the Jackson Tech District, and hosted 60 children for a free tech summer camp that allowed students to be immersed in science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Bean Path will hold a grand opening at the 6,500-square-foot Makerspace in October to celebrate its fourth anniversary. The program has helped more than 1,500 people and businesses.

While The Bean Path is a nonprofit, the Jackson Tech District is a for-profit entity with the vision to create a city within a city featuring entrepreneurship, art and technology. Sephus says the project will breathe life into downtown Jackson, lift the region’s economy, provide opportunities for citizens and stem the drain of young people leaving the area.

“We want to bring more people downtown,” she says. “That creates a positive chain reaction. More people enjoying downtown lowers the crime rate and builds the city’s reputation. That brings more retail and economic development, and the desire and ability to create green space for recreation, dog parks and outdoor entertainment.”

Company Spotlight: Think Anew

Think Anew is a leader in technology solutions for the long-term care and senior living industries. Founded in 2007 by Don Glidewell, the company designs, builds and customizes products and personalizes services to enhance workforce productivity and improve insights to allow care teams to provide the best care for their residents.

Headquartered in Madison, Think Anew is included on the 2021 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. Stacey Yoakum is Think Anew’s vice president.

Think Anew is among the fastest-growing companies in the health care and IT sectors. To what do you attribute that success?
We are laser-focused on the longterm care industry. We completely understand what our clients need. We develop solutions and hire experts to meet those needs. We consider ourselves a customer service company that specializes in IT for long-term care. Customer service is the cornerstone of our company. Every decision, every product we build, every meeting we have – customer service is the focus.

What’s ahead for Think Anew?
We are helping the long-term care industry digitally transform into the next wave of workflow. Paper and manual processes are still part of the industry, and we are assisting in that digital transformation with technology that is safe and compliant. We also want to grow and expand our national footprint and are building more products and solutions for the long-term care industry.

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