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Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum Goes Virtual on April 13

John Brandon is director of MC's entrepreneurship program in the School of Business.
John Brandon is director of MC's entrepreneurship program in the School of Business.

Students from colleges statewide will showcase their business strategies in the 6th annual Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum. Mississippi College students are among those bringing their ideas to the virtual program April 13-14.

John Brandon, director of MC’s entrepreneurship program in the School of Business, is eager to see how students from the Clinton campus fare as they compete.

Students are invited to pitch their business ideas before an eminent panel of judges, some of the state's premier entrepreneurs, and investors.

“Our students bring their creativity in innovation to the forefront, demonstrating what can happen in Mississippi if we allow our future entrepreneurs to flourish,” Brandon said.

Participants in the competition are screened and selected prior to the event. The student entrepreneurs will work with a mentor to get prepared. Mentors include investors and business professionals. The Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum just gets better every year.

“We hope to allow Mississippi students to compete and engage with other student entrepreneurs across different campuses,” Tasha Bibb says. She serves as director of entrepreneurial development at Innovate Mississippi.

The NextUp Statewide Student Pitch Competition is sponsored by the Mississippi Development Authority and coordinated by Innovate Mississippi. NextUp judges will select winners from each division. Judging will be based on students’ pre-recorded video pitches and executive summary. Winning teams will receive cash prizes.

The McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi is a major sponsor with MDA and Innovate Mississippi.

The program originally was scheduled to be held at the Vicksburg Convention Center but became a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mississippi College students participating include MBA student Paola Casas of Saltillo, Mexico, and Terry Cox of Semmes, Alabama. Others are Rachel Graham of Wetumpka, Alabama, Elliot Reeder of Phenix City, Alabama, and Gracie Temple of Jackson. Casas is a standout with MC’s nationally ranked table tennis team. Reeder serves as sports editor of the “Mississippi Collegian,” the MC student newspaper.

J.R. Love, a project manager at the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at Ole Miss, appreciates the strong support of MC’s entrepreneurship program.

“We are fortunate to have John Brandon a part of this effort with us. John has been a tremendous partner of the McLean Institute and was a key part of 2015, 2016, and 2019 forums,” Love said.

The 2021 forum will offer aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs opportunities to share practical information about building a business. Previous forums were held in Clarksdale, Tupelo, Greenwood, Oxford, and Jackson.