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Why Oxford, MS, is a Great Place to Build Your Business

Oxford residents show strong support for shopping locally. 

By Bill Lewis on November 15, 2022

People in the Photo from Left to Right Michelle Rounsaville - Owner/Chef, My Michelle's Ellen Raiford - General Manager/Sous Chef, My Michelle's Rebekah Dean - Front of House/Catering Manager, My Michelle's All are businesses in Oxford, MS.
Ann-Marie Wyatt

Loyal customers who prefer to “shop local” and a wealth of supportive services and expert advice make Oxford-Lafayette County the perfect place to start a small business.

Some businesses, like El Charro Cocina & Cantina Mexican restaurant, might be family-run businesses managed by second-generation owners. Others, like Proud Larry’s restaurant and music venue, have been in business for decades.

Even more, they are owned by Oxford natives who returned to the area to launch their businesses.

That’s what Michelle Rounsaville did before launching My Michelle’s, her “more than just great catering” business that offers healthy, homemade meals.

“Oxford is the best place to open a small business because not only do we have the most supportive community that loves to shop local and support all small businesses, but we also have the Ole Miss community and the people who own second homes here that are equally as supportive,” she says.

Chefs in the kitchen at Southern Craft Stove + Tap, which is located in Oxford, MS.
Steve Jones

Community Support

Rounsaville has never felt alone on her business journey. She could always rely on others for advice and assistance.

“The (Oxford-Lafayette County) Chamber of Commerce is my No. 1 ‘go to’ that I could not succeed without, as well as the Economic Development Foundation. The resources and networking that the Chamber provides are unmatched,” says Rounsaville. 

Oxford-Lafayette County is where a homegrown business such as Proud Larry’s can become a local institution. Proud Larry’s has been offering Oxford and Ole Miss burgers, pizzas, salads and daily specials since 1993. In addition, the menu includes live performances by local bands, up-and-coming artists and music legends.

“The Chamber of Commerce is my No. 1 ‘go to’ that I could not succeed without, as well as the Economic Development Foundation. The resources and networking that the Chamber provides are unmatched.”

Michelle Rounsaville, My Michelle’s

Nearly 30 years after first opening, El Charro restaurant is operating under the leadership of the next generation of the Munoz family.

“The community of Oxford gave us so much. It’s who we have to thank,” says Ramiro Munoz Jr., whose father launched the business. Oxford has a bounty of local restaurants, entertainment venues and retail shops that set the area apart from other small Southern cities. They are the lifeblood of the community, creating jobs, attracting visitors and boosting the local economy.

Local restaurants include Southern Craft Stove & Tap, Taylor Grocery, Tallahatchie Gourmet, Opa! and The Sipp on South Lamar. Examples of shops include Oxford Gourmet & Gifts, Johnston Hill Creamery, Sugar Magnolia Antique Mall, Square Books and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. The Original Grit Girl is an example of a local food production business.

Aerial shot of The Lafayette County Courthouse in downtown Oxford, MS.
Nathan Lambrecht

Creating Jobs

“Small businesses are part of their communities. They are friends and neighbors,” says Derek Stephens, assistant director of the Oxford Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which is part of the Oxford-Lafayette Economic Development Foundation. “They generate revenue via taxes and provide jobs. Money spent at a small business stays in the community; small businesses are the financial backbone of Mississippi and the U.S.”

Stephens says that by offering assistance to small business owners, the SBDC ensures that communities — and the state — thrive.

In the 2021 federal fiscal year, the Mississippi SBDC assisted 7,496 clients and had 252 new businesses create over 500 jobs.

The Mississippi SBDC offers a network of more than 20 offices and sites staffed with experienced business counselors who have access to a statewide network of experts, resources and support for entrepreneurs at every stage of the business life cycle, from startup to succession planning.

“Best of all, our counseling is no cost to the business owner,” says Stephens.

Rounsaville says the lessons she learned while launching My Michelle’s can help others.

“I would definitely tell people to research your area of expertise and reach out to both the Chamber and other established small businesses in their field to gain a perspective and get support on the journey they are about to embark on,” she says. “Co-network and market (your business) to get the new business name out into the community. Use all the resources that the Chamber and EDF have to offer.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Oxford, MS, area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Oxford-Lafayette County, Mississippi

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