By GALEN HOLLEY
There were no caps and gowns, but graduates from season three of Operation Jump Start couldn’t have been prouder to announce their ideas.
Yulanda Campbell spoke of her plans to start a bakery. Tabitha Jackson said she wants to open a restaurant. Deywanna King wants to plant a children’s and youth-related nonprofit.
Jump Start, coordinated by the Grenada Economic Development District, wrapped up its six-week training course on June 3. The course, which was conducted at Holmes Community College, covered the key elements of starting a small business. It helped entrepreneurs assess the viability of their ideas by learning how to create a budget, do a market analysis, establish a professional network and develop a business plan.
Participants got advice from bankers, lawyers and other players from across the landscape of the business world.
“Jump Start is a huge thing for Grenada,” said District Two Supervisor and Board President Chad Bridges. “It’s a nice thing to work for yourself. What you’re doing, planning to make a living based on your own, creative ideas, is great for the county. I look forward to visiting all of you at your new businesses.”
Michael McGee aspires to start his own retail business. Mary Nolen hopes to parlay her sewing talents into financial success. Kristie Reed wants to open a multicultural center.
“You’re all geniuses,” said John Brandon, senior associate manager at the Mississippi Development Authority. “When you’re able to find something that you enjoy doing, and people are willing to pay you for it, that makes you a genius. A genius sees the possible.”
Jump Start began on April 8 with 12 participants. The field was whittled to nine.
“These are people who have very good ideas for businesses,” said EDD Executive Director Pablo Diaz. “Their creativity, enthusiasm and hard work has been inspiring.”
Kenshunda Thomas, who is still developing her business model, and Todd Whitman, who wants to open a t-shirt shop, round out the list of entrepreneurs.
Participants have until July 1 to submit a business plan to the EDD. The participants will be judged on their presentation, participation and overall feasibility of their plans. The winner will receive a $1,000 seed grant to help launch their small business. The grant is funded by the Grenada Banker’s Association, as well as by State Bank and Cleveland State Bank.
The winner will also receive a free one-year membership to the Grenada Area Chamber of Commerce.