Jackson County Business Incubator Ready To Launch

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Loretta Jennings knows firsthand that it's not easy to launch a business. She did it years ago, when she started her insurance business.

"There are some days when you just start, that you don't know which way is up," she said.

Ann Waller is also part of the group.  She owns her own tax service, and has spent years advising entrepreneurs.

"I've seen the worst case scenario," she said. "I've seen people lose their life savings or a full retirement, and then end up owing taxes on their retirement and have nothing to show for it."

These women are part of a group of Jackson County business people who are working together to help new businesses succeed. They are launching the Jackson County business incubator in just a few days.

"We intend to be the business resource center for Jackson County," Waller said.

"It's gonna be great for Jackson County," said group member Linwood Grierson. "We need a place to foster new businesses; we lost a lot due to the storm."

The people launching the program come from different business background, and are prepared to help new business owners in many different areas, from taxes, to banking, to real estate, and even engineering.

The incubator will also provide up to ten new businesses a low-cost work facility.  Each business' rent will increase each year it is located in the incubator, until it has reached market value.  At that point, the business is expected to leave the incubator.

Jackson County Planner Michele Coats is excited about this aspect of the incubator.

"I think it would be a tremendous asset to them to be able to have something that they could grow their business in, and not have to just right out and buy up a very valuable commercial office space."

She said this project comes at a good time for the county, which granted over 150 business licenses in the unincorporated areas of Jackson County this year, which is an increase from previous years.

"I think we've really concentrated on getting our residential sector back up and running," Coats said. "But now I think it's time to concentrate on getting the commercial interest back up and running also."

Many say the entire county will benefit.  The county, as well as its incorporated areas, support the new project.

"New businesses create tax dollars, and what the county's going to invest is going to come back many times," said Grierson.

All entrepreneurs hoping to take advantage of the incubator must attend a business 101 series.  The first series starts Tuesday night. It's a set of three seminars on upstart businesses, covering everything from fostering ideas to financing.

There is still time to sign up for the business 101 series. Anyone interested can contact Teresa Spier at (228) 396-8661.

This series is the first of many services the incubator will offer to new business owners.

"You cannot put a price tag on the amount of services and advice that we're going to have available to people," said Waller.

The incubator should be in full operation by October.