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McLean Institute to Co-Host Pitch Night for Entrepreneurs

Jessica Clarke is a CEED Innovation Scholar in the McLean Institute. Submitted photo
Entrepreneurs and anyone interested in starting his or her own businesses in the Lafayette County-Oxford-University community are encouraged to attend a gathering of the minds Nov. 7 at the Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center.
Doors open at 6:45 p.m., and the program begins at 7. The event is free and open to the public.
Pitch Night is co-sponsored by the University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Community Engagement, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation.
“We want to get all the entrepreneurial-minded folks of Oxford and Ole Miss in a room together,” said Nicole Park, a senior accountancy major from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and event coordinator. “We also want to provide an opportunity for them to get some honest, immediate feedback on their business ideas.
“Even if you don’t have a proposal yet, come enjoy others’ ideas. By contributing feedback, maybe this event will get the creative juices flowing.”
One Ole Miss student and two recent alumni are scheduled to present their own business proposals during the mix-and-mingle meeting. Jessica Clarke, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Franklin, Tennessee, will share her vision for Inside Out Fitness in Vardaman.
Taeisha Gambrel, an alumna from Belden who earned a degree in community health counseling, is pitching Sisters of Faith, a community-based support group for young women of faith that also sells apparel.
William Lee Ingram, a 2017 accountancy graduate from Madison, will discuss how he became founder and CEO of Collegiate Tutoring, an operation he began at the university and has since expanded to at least two other SEC schools.
Clarke is an innovation scholar with the Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development initiative of the McLean Institute, and Gambrel was a CEED innovation fellow.
Representatives from the sponsoring organizations said they are pleased to collaborate in such a worthy effort.
“YAC launched an arts incubator with quarterly workshops in 2009 to help artists develop sustainable business models and connect them with business expert,” said Meghan Gallagher, education and outreach coordinator for YAC. “Last fall, we teamed up with the chamber to offer free monthly workshops and expand the network of mentors through the Big Bad Business Series, with the financial help of an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
“We’re committed to building a supportive environment for small businesses so people who love Oxford can stay in Oxford and not feel like they have to move away to a city with more opportunities and resources.”
Park emphasized that Pitch Night is not a contest.
“There are no judges, no prizes, no winners and certainly no losers,” she said. “We just want to engage people in conversations about small business, big ideas, entrepreneurship and our lovely city of Oxford.”
Business leaders and owners, professors and experts in many fields are expected to attend, providing opportunities for constructive feedback and insights.
“YAC wants all community members, particularly students at the University of Mississippi, to be able to engage with the small business experts and cheerleaders in our community,” Gallagher said. “Pitch Night was designed specifically for students, so we’re hoping to bridge the gap in communication so that students feel welcomed and engaged.”
Pitch Night is based upon 1 Million Cups, a free program created by the Kauffman Foundation designed to educate, engage and connect entrepreneurs with their communities.
Free parking is available next to the Burns-Belfrey Museum, at 710 East Jackson Ave.
For assistance related to a disability, call 662-236-6429. For more information, contact Park at ncpark@go.olemiss.edu.

By Edwin B. Smith
For more questions or comments email us at hottytoddynews@gmail.com

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