Photo courtesy Tasha Bibb
Tasha Bibb loves to help Mississippi’s potential entrepreneurs turn their business dreams into reality. She has spent the past 15 years doing just that through her position as entrepreneurial development director at Innovate Mississippi.
Innovate Mississippi works with approximately 80 new Mississippi companies each year, as well as about 60 more that are continuing an existing relationship with the organization. Bibb works closely with these fledgling companies, providing them with professional coaching and coordinating the various programming that offers training in multiple aspects of entrepreneurship and business administration.
Companies come to Innovate Mississippi in all different stages of development. Some simply have an idea for a business or product and are in need of guidance and assistance through the entire development process, while others have already done much of the work, but need help finding funding to get off the ground. Bibb and Innovate Mississippi vary the type and amount of assistance they provide to fit each situation. “Sometimes we’ll work with them for two months, until they get some funding, and sometimes it can be up to two years for the ones that are really early in sort of the idea stage,” Bibb says.
As a native Mississippian and a business development professional, Bibb is concerned about the effects of the phenomenon known as “brain drain” on the state. As it applies to Mississippi, brain drain refers to the loss of talented members of the state’s population and contributors to its economy due to the perception of better opportunities elsewhere.
“It is a problem, and we need to focus on it and not just sweep it under the rug and say it isn’t happening. It’s happening a lot with our college graduates and our millennials who are looking for more exciting opportunities for their careers,” Bibb says. “And one thing we want to focus on at Innovate Mississippi is to help advocate for entrepreneurship as a career choice.”
Bibb says that Innovate Mississippi has been able to work with most of the universities in the state to help them develop programs on their campuses promoting entrepreneurship. “With our activities, we invite those students to take part in what we’re doing, because we want them to see that entrepreneurship is an option, and they can start a company or a startup right here in Mississippi. You don’t have to go out of state to do that because we’ve got the resources here.”
She explains further that the problem isn’t limited to our recent graduates. “Sadly, we’re losing some entrepreneurs. We’re losing some companies and small businesses, and you know, that’s because they think that there are more attractive opportunities in other states …That’s what my job is every day, to change that. To make sure that we’re building the right types of resources to help these companies grow here. Start here and grow here.”
To learn more about Innovate Mississippi visit innovate.ms.