Innovate Mississippi

Point Innovation Magazine Winter 2013

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FEATURE Getting Creative with the Economy Sharon G. Morris W hen it comes to innovation at the local level, Millsaps College puts words into action. With a thriving local art district and a community of entrepreneurs hungry for information and infrastructure, the Midtown neighborhood of Jackson is home to an emerging concept called the creative economy. Through its ELSEWorks program, the Else School of Management at Millsaps College is playing a leading role in helping local entrepreneurs capitalize on the many advantages offered by the area. "Creative business can take many forms, ranging from artists to software designers," explained Joe Donovan, director of entrepreneurial development at the Millsaps Else School of Management. "There will be significant resources available from ELSEWorks provided by undergraduate and graduate students with direct faculty support. "ELSEWorks, in partnership with Midtown Partners, is supervising the development, implementation and management of a creative business incubator," he added. "The program will provide individualized strategic, accounting, financial, marketing and planning assistance to incubator clients and existing businesses." The program is a response to needs expressed by members of the local community and will provide opportunities for students to gain real-world experience. A survey conducted in 2012 indicated that 39 percent of participants were interested in 60 Pointe Innovation receiving assistance for an existing business or for starting a new business. A business survey completed this year indicated that 93 percent of Midtown businesses requested some type of assistance or training. For local microbrewer Chip Jones, whose Lucky Town Brewery is on track to open in Midtown in early 2014, the expertise and technical assistance provided by ELSEWorks was the right ingredient in his recipe for success. "The entire team at ELSEWorks proved to be a very useful resource in developing a schedule and making connections with proper contacts to ensure the process is carried out efficiently," said Jones. "Midtown itself offers opportunities for many types of businesses, given that the list of available properties includes light industrial, retail, warehouse, office, as well as residential. It's uniquely situated between downtown Jackson, Millsaps College, Belhaven University and the Historic Fondren District. It is also located within 2 miles of the state Capitol and major medical hospitals. "For Lucky Town, access to Interstate 55 is convenient and will be great for tourism," added Jones. "There is a large group of artists, photographers and builders in Midtown already, which was a big draw for us since we intend to have our needs and services provided by local businesses as much as possible.

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