August 1, 2014  

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Southern Entrepreneurship Program Helps High School Students Get Connected

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Approximately 200 students participated in a symposium titled “Getting Connected” sponsored by the Southern Entrepreneurship Program. (Submitted photo)

The Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP), an outreach initiative by The University of Southern Mississippi Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education, kicked off its seventh annual program series last month with the high school symposium “Getting Connected.”

The statewide event, hosted at the Jackson State University e-Center, introduced high school students to the basics of entrepreneurship, business development, and opportunity recognition through a series of interactive speakers and competitive activities.

The SEP event drew approximately 200 high school students and educators, representing much of the state from Harrison County to Itawamba County. The agenda started with a lively discussion panel featuring young entrepreneurs from the Jackson area who share a common interest in inspiring Mississippi’s next generation of business minds.

The businesses represented were BlueSky Studios, Mad Genius, Cryogenic Studios, Sheena Allen Apps, Tristan Duplichain Photography and Design, and Cake Pop Cuties.

Following these stories of success and struggle, students were presented with a challenge — use a list of community resources within a fictitious rural Mississippi town to boost its dying economy. Students quickly came up with 22 basic ideas including music festivals, restaurants, and other small businesses that capitalized on the community’s history and available resources.

After a quick vote, the initial ideas were narrowed down to the top 10 and developed in greater detail by self-selected student teams. The day concluded with a friendly competition as each team presented a brief 2-minute “pitch” and justification for its approach.

Co-sponsors of the event were The University of Southern Mississippi College of Business, The University of Southern Mississippi Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education, Jackson State University Department of Entrepreneurship and Professional Development, The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Young Entrepreneur Foundation, The Entrepreneur Center at Mississippi Development Authority, Mississippi Council on Economic Education, Regions Bank, and The First—A National Banking Association.

For more information on the Southern Entrepreneurship Program and how interested high schools can become involved, please contact program director James Wilcox by email at james.b.wilcox@usm.edu, phone at 601.266-6055, or by visiting the program’s website at www.theSEP.org.