Economy thrives with creative people, diverse industries
Go Rebels! Go Business!
Oxford is no doubt a university town, and its business ecosystem is incredibly diverse and interconnected – especially for a community this size. Including the university, Oxford has a strong economic base consisting of large and small companies across many industry sectors.
“We concentrate more on attracting top individuals to Oxford than we do on attracting large companies to our city,â€ says Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation. “We are lucky to have growth in quite a few economic sectors thanks to our talented workforce.â€
Maynard says Oxford has more than 150 manufacturing companies and is strong in other areas such as technology, education, retail and tourism.
“We also have a successful health care industry led by a new $306 million Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, which will attract patients from throughout our entire region,â€ he says. “Oxford is also home to a fantastic arts community, with creative people ranging from authors to sculptors to software developers to chefs.â€
In addition, Maynard says the city strives to have entrepreneurs succeed, with programs in place like a Big Bad Business Series as well as an Ole Miss Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and a Mississippi Small Business Development Center.
“We are a city of many talented individuals,â€ he says. “Creative people remain the biggest strength for our growing economy.â€
Cooking Up Success
One of those creative people is Karen Kurr, owner of No Time 2 Cook. Kurr started her food business about 14 years ago from her home, and today her ready-to-eat Southern meals are available in area grocery stores as well as regional Kroger supermarkets and Walmart stores.
“I now have a USDA plant in Oxford and can crank out about 1,000 prepared frozen meals a day,â€ Kurr says. “I’ve always been a good cook, but I needed help learning the rules of business, marketing, regulations and so forth. Our local government, the chamber, the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and the state have all provided me with great help and support along the way.â€
Kurr says through the EDF’s Big Bad Business Series, she met a businessman who was able to put her business in front of Walmart.
“Now I’m also in talks with Publix and the H-E-B grocery chain, and I expect huge growth in my company over the next two to three years,â€ she says. “In fact, I fully expect to be distributing No Time 2 Cook products nationwide within the next four years or so.â€
Next Gear Takes it to the Next Level
Another local success story is Next Gear Solutions, a company that launched in 2008 and develops software service products for restoration contractors and property insurance carriers.
“If you have a flood or fire in your house that requires a mitigation company to come out and clean up and do some light construction to put your house back to normal, most of those contractors are using Next Gear technology to guide them through that process,â€ says Tim Kempe, Next Gear Solutions chief of staff. “We serve a key niche within the contracting and insurance segment.â€
Kempe says the company began with a few employees and now has 175 across the nation, with 80 based in Oxford.
“We have a 24/7/365 call center to support our software customers, and all our support calls are fielded in Oxford – not another state or country,â€ he says. “In addition, being here in the home of Ole Miss gives us great access to a college-educated workforce. Oxford is a very pro-business city, and we have enjoyed some fast growth over the 10-plus years we’ve been in business.â€