Building Midtown's Creative Economy
Dr. Penelope J. Prenshaw leads a Midtown Entrepreneurship Workshop
Midtown is a diverse and primarily low income neighborhood adjacent to Millsaps College. ELSEWorks supports a holistic strategic plan for community revitalization including economic development, housing, health and wellness, education, and community and culture initiatives. The plan is spearheaded by Midtown Partners, Inc., a non-profit community organization which works to make Midtown a vibrant, healthy, sustainable community in which to live, work, and raise families.
The primary focus of ELSEWorks is economic development, specifically growing Midtown's creative economy. Midtown is home to the Midtown Arts District, a small, but growing artist community. ELSEWorks strategies to grow Midtown's creative economy include:
- Creative Business Development Center and Incubator
ELSEWorks is supervising the development, implementation, and management of a creative business incubator. ELSEWorks will provide individualized strategic, accounting, financial, marketing, and planning assistance to incubator clients and existing businesses. This Center will provide affordable space for creative entrepreneurs and offer Midtown artists and businesses support. The Center will assist new businesses and help existing businesses grow. An 11,000 square foot donated warehouse two blocks from the Midtown Arts District will house the incubator. To-date, the business plan and schematic architectural designs are complete. A 10-by 35-foot mural adorns the incubator and renovations to the gallery space are complete. The partial renovation has allowed the gallery to be used by local artists to display their art, providing momentum to the fundraising process. Efforts are proceeding towards a larger funding goal to complete renovations.
- Business Assistance
ELSEWorks offers a series of entrepreneurship workshops for community residents and businesses. Workshop participants continue engagement with one-on-one consulting with faculty and students. More focused topical workshops are provided to BAM, the Business Association of Midtown. These efforts will move to the incubator when it opens. Full paid scholarships for the Business Advantage Program are offered to Midtown residents and businesses.
- Community Gathering Place
Many community development experts recognize the importance of informal public gathering places (coffee shops, community co-ops, etc.) in building community and in economic development of a neighborhood. ELSEWorks leads the effort to identify an operator, provide facility planning, and support execution.
- Business Recruitment
Midtown is a unique neighborhood in Jackson because it has such a diversity of uses, including commercial, residential, and light industrial. ELSEWorks works to recruit businesses and artists to locate in vacant buildings and warehouses.
- MicroInvestment Program
The MicroInvestment Program provides entrepreneurs and small businesses advice and consultation to obtain capital.
Hope Enterprise Corporation
Hope Enterprise Corporation is a private nonprofit community development financial institution. Students assisted with expansion efforts into three rural Mississippi communities that had lost their only banks. Students conducted marketing research, participated in membership drives, conducted financial literacy sessions, and attended the grand opening (where new accounts surpassed expectations!).
Youth Entrepreneurship Camp
The youth entrepreneurship camp was developed for high school students from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI). MBCI is a community of approximately 10,000 members living on tribal land located in 10 counties in Mississippi. The entrepreneurship camp curriculum consisted of a combination of experiences, discussion and lecture, guest speakers, fieldtrips, a mentoring component including exposure to elder tribe members with business skills and success stories, and fun activities.