Mississippi’s MyBizentrepreneurship training program is preparing to launch its Phase III effort targeting dislocated workers to receive entrepreneurship training through Hinds Community College. With continued funding via the WIRED Grant through The Montgomery Institute of Meridian, MS, and partnership linkages with the state Small Business Development Centers coordinated by the University of Mississippi-Oxford, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security-WIN Job Centers, the Southern Entrepreneur Program (SEP) developed by Dr. Brent Hales at the University of Southern Mississippi-Hattiesburg, and the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (all 15 state community and junior colleges) have teamed together to develop and deliver entrepreneurship training to dislocated workers.
The pathway to participation in the MyBiz Phase III program initiates with local WIN Job Centers identifying prospective participants for the 33-hour SEP training course. Identified dislocated workers will be presented the SBDC "First Steps” seminar, which provides orientation and assessment as to whether entrepreneurship is a right fit for these individuals in their current situation.
Dislocated worker participants completing the First Steps seminar will be referred to the community college MyBiz SEP instructor. Those interested will sign up for the SEP program training course and pay a $25 registration fee to cover the costs of course materials. The recommended practical working class size is to be 15 clients.
Client participants in the Southern Entrepreneurship Program receive a certificate upon completion of the 33-hour training course. The targeted completion rate is 75 percent. The Hinds Community College SEP trainer then will direct the completed participants to the local Small Business Development Center at Hinds Community College.
The Hinds Community College SBDC enters clients into their small business advisement system and provides needed services requested by the clients. Ideally, some of the participants in the program will eventually develop viable small business plans leading to the opening of a small business in the Hinds Community College district’s region as a stimulus to local economic development efforts.
The SEP Training Curriculum
The Southern Entrepreneurship Program curriculum consists of 14 sections of training in Entrepreneurial Skills and Business Management to include the following topics:
- Setting Goals
- Problem Solving
- Decision Making
- Self Esteem
- Communication skills
- Managing change
- Why businesses fail
- Identifying business opportunities
- The business plan
- Record keeping for success
- Is your business legally and financially sound
Again, the recommendation is for a course totaling 33 hours of contact training to be held in three-hour sessions, once a week, or a suitable schedule to be worked out between the clients and the community college SEP instructor. Ideally SEP classes would be conducted on site at the local WIN Job Centers where other support resource services are available to the clients.
The end goal of the MyBiz Phase III-SEP is to encourage dislocated workers to consider entrepreneurship opportunities as an alternative to traditional employment pursuits. This will be accomplished as a result of the SEP training and SBDC advisement. Hinds Community College will continue to monitor the participants in the MyBiz SEP program to address any further training or advisement needs they may have. This could include providing additional skills training in business development and management, computer skills, bookkeeping, business marketing, or other technical assistance as required.
Statewide, the TMI initiative to be delivered through the state’s community colleges hopes to train up to 1,000 dislocated workers in the SEP curriculum. Participants outside of the clients certified by the WIN Job Centers as dislocated workers will be permitted to attend the SEP training course; however, these individuals will be required to pay a course fee of $200. Their participation costs will not be covered by the WIRED grant funding secured by The Montgomery Institute.
The immediate outcomes of the MyBiz Phase III-SEP program will be to increase the numbers of newly trained business owners; increase the numbers of small business owners within the Hinds Community College District; increase workforce training; potential development of new cluster mentors; intergenerational exchange of business skills and an increase in leadership skills. The terminal outcomes would include increased economic development, increased entrepreneurialism, a decrease in brain drain and the establishment of new networks of small business development opportunities.
An additional spinoff outcome may be a reduction in the number of dislocated workers, having encouraged some of these individuals to create a small business as a viable alternative to traditional employability options, which currently are seriously limited.
The MyBiz Phase III-SEP training program commenced February 2010 with an anticipated completion date of December 31, 2010.