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Regions Foundation, UM Join Forces to Support Delta Economy  

By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development 

The Regions Foundation and the Mississippi Small Business Development Center have established the Mississippi Delta SBDC to encourage entrepreneurship and small business success specifically in the Delta region. 

Housed within CompuRecycling Center Inc., in Greenville, the Mississippi Delta SBDC began serving small-business owners and entrepreneurs in the 10-county Delta region in 2022. The Mississippi Delta SBDC expects to serve 90 clients in the first year, 120 in the second year and 150 in the third year of operation. 

The Regions Foundation is an Alabama-based nonprofit that is funded primarily by Regions Bank. The foundation has provided a $150,000 grant to expand the Mississippi Delta SBDC’s offerings, which include free one-on-one counseling and technical assistance for small-business owners.  

“Supporting the Mississippi Delta SBDC gives the Regions Foundation the opportunity to multiply the impact of our philanthropic dollars,” said Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation.  

“To have the deepest impact, philanthropy can’t work by itself; we need a combination of resources. This collaboration has all the ingredients for success: financial backing from private and government sources, the support of a high-quality post-secondary institution, the solid technical expertise of a regional agency and the implementation power of an established grass-roots organization.” 

Small businesses are a crucial component of healthy local economies. Fostering more small business success, in turn, fosters stronger communities, Self said. 

“While we all recognize you need education, workforce, housing and health care, we also must recognize you can’t have a thriving community without small business,” Self said. “But even more than that, micro and small businesses that are locally owned generate more wealth for the community, employing and investing in their community.” 

The idea to establish the an SBDC in the Delta originated through an ongoing relationship between Regions and the university.  

“Through this partnership with the Regions Foundation, CompuRecycling and UM, the MS SBDC will now have a physical presence in the Mississippi Delta combining its resources and expertise with CompuRecycling’s connections in the community,” said Hughes Miller, director of industry engagement.  

“Regions Foundation’s support has made it possible to create this expanded resource to support entrepreneurship and small business growth in rural communities across the Delta.”  

This recent contribution is an extension of the Regions Foundation’s ongoing support of the Mississippi SBDC, said Sharon Nichols, state director of the Mississippi SBDC headquartered at the University of Mississippi. In 2021, the foundation provided a $75,000 gift that helped the SBDC obtain a USDA Distance Learning grant to deploy 27 virtual small business centers across rural Mississippi to complement an entrepreneurial ecosystem

“We are deeply grateful for the collaboration with the Regions Foundation and our Mississippi Delta SBDC,” Nichols said. “Their support of this center is already positively impacting this traditionally underserved region of our state. This is another example of how organizations can come together to help communities grow.” 

Self spoke of the desired long-term impact of the Regions Foundation’s investment in the Mississippi Delta SBDC. 

“We are proud to work hand-in-hand with the SBDC to empower entrepreneurs to grow and succeed, bringing access to more knowledge and capital to the community,” Self said. “Over time, we hope it creates a strong network of business owners who help each other grow and continue to invest in their communities.  

“A healthy and thriving business ecosystem will bring more inclusive prosperity and pride to the Mississippi Delta.”  

The Mississippi SBDC provides business counseling, technical assistance and access to a host of resources, business experts and support to business owners and entrepreneurs. The Mississippi SBDC is funded by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration through the University of Mississippi. 

To learn more about the university’s industry engagement initiative, visit https://industry.olemiss.edu or contact Hughes Miller, director of industry engagement, at hughes@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2885. 

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