Honors Theses

Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Public Policy Leadership

First Advisor

Melissa Bass

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

The importance of a strong entrepreneurial environment for overall economic development is well established. Mississippi, this Mississippi Development Authority's Entrepreneur Center is the state's leading authority on small business development. However, there has been little to no analysis of the effectiveness and efficiency of the Entrepreneur Center. Two surveys were conducted. The Mississippi Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Survey (MEES) was administered by the University of Mississippi's McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement last fall to a population of 4214 business and community leaders with a responsive sample of n= 573. This survey is used to contextualize the business ecosystem of the state. A second Qualtrics surveyed the more than 2,000 individuals in the Entrepreneur Center's contact list with responsive sample of 209. This data aims to assess the usefulness of the current services that the Center provides and provide guidance for future efforts. Preliminary results indicate that small businesses are most assisted by the personal consulting services and online webinars of the Center. Despite their general approval of the program, three major concerns arise. Firstly, because the Center is in Jackson, and satellite offices have been shuttered in the last year, many citizens reported that travel distance restricted their access to resources. In connection to this concern, respondents thought that the small staff of the Entrepreneur Center often left the entity overextended. Finally, the overlap between the numerous programs that help small businesses (SBA, SBDCs, Mississippi Mainstreet, DRA, various university resources) created an environment where identifying and securing the necessary resources is arduous. Provisional conclusions call for a consolidation of the various state and federal resources through a central entrepreneurial hub that allows busy entrepreneurs access to the myriad of assistance already available.

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