Region could work together for small business incubator

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 4, 2000

Adams County could serve as the hub for a five-county area’s small business incubator, according to an economic development study of southwest Mississippi.

But the counties in the region need to work together to overcome their disadvantages, said Brenda Buck, interim director of the Center for Rural Life and Economic Development at Alcorn State University. Alcorn paid for the independent study of the region, which includes Adams, Claiborne, Franklin, Jefferson and Wilkinson counties.

&uot;We find a lot of our counties have some type of deficiency,&uot; Buck said. &uot;It’s going to take a joint effort.&uot;

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By pooling resources, Buck said, the counties can overcome those deficiencies to build a successful incubator, a facility that will house up-start businesses that can share services to cut their overhead expenses.

Buck shared results of the independent study with Adams County supervisors this week. She will be visiting all of the area’s boards of supervisors in the next few weeks.

Adams County’s main problem is its lack of an international airport, Buck said. While the other counties don’t have one either, some are closer to Jackson’s international airport.

And according to a survey of local business leaders, Adams County needs two more things to ensure the success of a business incubator: more cooperation between the city and county and a permanent director for the Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority.

&uot;The EDA&160;director will play a major role in this,&uot; Buck said.

She emphasized that those suggestions came not from the independent consultants but from local businesspeople.

&uot;It’s crucial that the county and city work together,&uot; Buck said.

Adams County Board of Supervisors President Virginia Salmon said she is looking forward to a business incubator.

&uot;I&160;think it’s great,&uot; she said. &uot;We’ve been trying to work on that for several months. That same seed planted has been cultivated highly by Winnie Kaiser.&uot;

Kaiser is community development coordinator for the Natchez-Adams County EDA.

She has been involved in the planning of the incubator along with other economic leaders in the region.

Buck said the value of an incubator is that it can nurture small businesses — which she said are just as important, in terms of economic development, as larger industries.

&uot;You need industry but you also need service-oriented projects,&uot; she said.

&uot;We have a lot of potential entrepreneurs in this area,&uot; Buck said. &uot;They often fail because of high overhead. You’re really building your business in those first two years.&uot;

But it is also in those first two years that businesses incur so many start-up expenses — from telephone service to fax machines.

The next step, Buck said, is meeting with the region’s county supervisors and other economic development officials.

Later, the group will try to secure funding for the incubator, possibly from the Mississippi Development Authority.