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Ole Miss advancing economic development...

Ole Miss advancing economic development in Mississippi through support of Entrepreneurship Forum, Insight Park

By: Phil Hardwick - March 15, 2024

  • Business columnist Phil Hardwick talks with Dr. J.R. Love with the University of Mississippi.

In this three-part series, we focus on entrepreneurship and economic development programs at the state’s three major universities. 

Last time, we explored the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach at Mississippi State.

READ MORE: Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach at Mississippi State Helping Turn Ideas into Global Companies

This week, Dr. J.R. Love discusses the upcoming Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum and the University of Mississippi’s Insight Park. 

I understand the UM Grisham-McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement has an upcoming program that will interest business people in the state. 

Dr. J.R. Love

The ninth annual Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum will be held at Tougaloo College in Jackson on April 3 and at Embassy Suites in Ridgeland on April 4. The Forum will provide information about resources and tools currently offered in Mississippi to help stimulate entrepreneurship and economic development. Attendees will also hear about best practices of successful case studies and learn more about resources and strategies available from colleges and universities and other key organizations. 

The Forum also facilitates networking between entrepreneurs at various stages of business development. Attendees can learn from one other’s real-world experiences building companies, as well as connect with representatives from academic institutions and business support organizations to leverage resources. 

Panels on technology and innovation, student entrepreneurship, and the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem will also be conducted. Sessions on technology commercialization and innovation, statewide resources and entrepreneurial development, student entrepreneurship, digital entrepreneurship, and Mississippi’s innovative workforce will be conducted.  

Who should attend? Is it open to the public? 

Entrepreneurs, economic developers, innovators, and future business owners will want to attend. And yes, it is open to the public. 

Is this the first such conference? 

In 2019, the first Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum was held on the campus of Millsaps College in Jackson.  Public and private institutions of higher learning in Mississippi came together to highlight entrepreneurial efforts taking place on the respective campuses.  A planning team composed of members from all IHL schools in Mississippi, private colleges/universities, and key statewide organizations meets in person and on Zoom throughout the year.   

The Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum was formerly called the Rural Entrepreneurship Forum.  2015 was the first forum and it convened in Clarksdale.  Tupelo, Greenwood, and Oxford were the sites from 2016-2018 with a goal to highlight business owners, entrepreneurs, and economic leaders in locations across the Mississippi Delta and Northeast Mississippi. 

Will there be pitch opportunities? 

This year we will include a NextUp! Student Social time on April 3rd from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm on the campus of Tougaloo College. In previous years, a student pitch competition was included in the annual forum.  Students are also invited to join the forum on April 4th at the Embassy Suites in Ridgeland.  There will be a student entrepreneurship session where several current university students will share about their entrepreneurial journey and business.   

Is this a good place for angel investors seeking opportunities to find new businesses to invest in? 

Yes, universities will highlight their respective entrepreneurship centers on campus.  Innovate Mississippi and other statewide organizations will be in attendance to share information about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Mississippi.   

How do people register for the Forum or get more information? 

Registration and program information can be found on the Forum website at

Universities in Mississippi provide quite a bit of assistance to businesses in their local areas. I understand that you are also involved with Insight Park in Oxford.  

The University of Mississippi is home to the Mississippi Small Business Center (state office), Insight Park which includes The Innovation Hub, the Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CEED) initiative which is a part of the Grisham-McLean Institute, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), and other resources.   

Insight Park is a 19-acre research and business park adjacent to The University of Mississippi campus in Oxford, Mississippi. Insight Park welcomes companies commercializing University of Mississippi research and who desire to work with the university to maximize their business by utilizing the human and physical resources available through such a partnership. 

For more information about the Forum or information about Ole Miss economic development contact: J.R. Love, Ph.D., Assistant Director of Economic Development , Insight Park  – The University of Mississippi , 850 Insight Park Avenue, University, MS 38677 – (662) 915-5083 – Email: | 

About the Author(s)
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Phil Hardwick

Phil Hardwick is an award-winning business columnist and semi-retired economic developer. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at the Millsaps College Else School of Management for many years. He has taught over 1,000 students, written over 800 columns, written 11 books and assisted over 100 communities and organizations with strategic planning. In February 2016 he was inducted as a Lifetime Member of the Mississippi Economic Development Council.