Southern Entrepreneurship Program Holds Statewide Symposium

Southern Entrepreneurship Program Holds Statewide Symposium

The following is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi

The Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP), a statewide outreach program of The University of Southern Mississippi's College of Business and Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education, kicked off its 9th annual program series on Nov. 4 in Jackson, Miss.

Nearly 350 high school students and educators from across the state gathered at the Mississippi e-Center at Jackson State University for the high-energy event and its interactive introduction to entrepreneurship, making it the largest SEP event since the program's founding in 2007.

Throughout the day, students gained valuable exposure to business and economic knowledge through multiple speakers and a competitive team challenge requiring student participants to creatively "brand" their hometowns.

The day's schedule began with an interactive question and answer session with five young Jackson-area entrepreneurs, each providing a first-hand narrative of their experiences and sacrifices in business development and ownership. These inspirational entrepreneurs included Talamieka Brice of Brice Media, Patrick Harkins of Fondren Guitars, LaTrese Hossley of Unlimited Occasions, Israel Martinez of Kismar Computer Services and Web Design, and Steven O'Neill of The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen.

Following the entrepreneurship panel, Joe Donovan, Director of Entrepreneurial Development at Millsaps College, introduced the concept of a creative economy and provided an engaging segue into the event's competitive team challenge.

Students were then divided into 23 teams and challenged to develop a "brand" and marketable strategy for their Mississippi hometowns. Teams were tasked with developing a poster advertisement, a financial impact projection, and a 60-second commercial to promote either tourism or a shop-local initiative.

"The students are still talking about what an awesome learning experience they had at the entrepreneurship symposium," said Julie Williamson, an instructor from Harrison County Career & Technical Education Center. "They really loved the group business plan activity where they were able to network, be creative, and give the presentations."

The winning submission, titled "Gulfport – The Coast with the Most" proposed a simplified strategy for making the Gulf Coast city the entertainment destination of the South.

The Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) is offered as an experiential education program for Mississippi's high school students and is operated by the Southern Miss Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education. For further information, contact James Wilcox at