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RISE Center to Support Small Business Growth in Mississippi

By Erin Garrett

University of Communications

Chip Templeton (left), who is serving as director of the new Resources for International Success and Expansion Center, has a long history of counseling Mississippi small businesses, including Core Furniture owners Bryan Smith and Matt Shipton. Photo by Bruce Newman

A new center at the University of Mississippi is offering resources for small businesses in the state that seek to expand and grow.

Approved Oct. 19 by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, the Mississippi Small Business Development Center established the Resources for International Success and Expansion Center, or RISE Center.

“Mississippi SBDC’s RISE Center is a testament to the combined efforts of the university and our dedicated staff,” said Sharon Nichols, Mississippi SBDC state director. “We aim to offer unparalleled value to the growing small businesses in our state.

“From analyzing new market trends to exporting products internationally, the RISE Center is committed to ensuring the success of our small businesses in the competitive marketplace.”

The Mississippi SBDC provides budding entrepreneurs and small-business owners with services at no charge. The center has 17 strategically placed offices that reach all corners of the state and virtual sites.

While Mississippi SBDC counselors are well-known for their proficiency in helping businesses launch, the staff began looking for ways to strengthen their offerings for those already in business, said Derek Stephens, the center’s assistant state director.

“In 2018, we started to see the start of a shift in our clientele,” Stephens said. “At that time, 61% of our clients were prospective businesses. Fast forward to 2023, and now over 76% are established businesses.

“We looked at that shift and asked ourselves how we could continue to be effective in what we’re doing. How could we elevate our resources for those rapidly growing small businesses that are our base?”

To that end, the RISE Center offers counseling and resources that focus on six areas:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Technology commercialization
  • International trade
  • Market research
  • Digital transformation
  • Financial analysis.

Chip Templeton, director of the RISE Center, touted the center’s benefits.

Chip Templeton. Submitted photo

“We have global success behind our name with our international trade expert,” Templeton said. “We’ll be able to expand how companies do their marketing with digital optimization. We’re working with a program called Encountering Innovation to connect businesses with tech scouts.”

The center will ultimately guide businesses to the “right connections” to help them achieve their goals, Templeton said.

“We hope to serve clients that are poised for growth – on a trajectory for high growth,” he said. “Maybe they have stumbled along the way, and we can help them get back on track quickly.”


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