In April 2005, Governor Haley Barbour announced formation of the Mississippi Entrepreneur Alliance (MEA).  The MEA was a partnership among agencies promoting entrepreneur development in the state, including:  the State Rural Development Council, Mississippi community and junior colleges (CCJCs), the Mississippi Development Authority, the Small Business Administration, and The Montgomery Institute. Its mission was to energize and grow Mississippi’s entrepreneurial potential, especially in rural areas, by pulling together service providers and resources into a readily accessible support system for entrepreneurs. Creation of the MEA set the stage for entrepreneur support activities throughout Mississippi and West Alabama.  Sen. Thad Cochran provided a $198,000 earmark to the Mississippi Community College Foundation in 2006 to support development of the Mississippi Entrepreneur Alliance. The foundation partnered with TMI to operate the program. To see the final report for the federal earmark click here.



Gathered under the auspices of the Mississippi Entrepreneur Alliance, a multi-agency workgroup, encouraged by Governor Haley Barbour, formulated a set of policy recommendations to enhance entrepreneurship and small business development in Mississippi. A survey of entrepreneurs, service providers, and elected officials found overwhelming support for entrepreneur support and the policy recommendations. To see the policy recommendations, the workgroup participants, and the survey results, click here.



In 2006, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley jointly applied for and won a $15 million U.S. Department of Labor WIRED grant that incorporated the entrepreneur support concepts developed by MEA. Through the WIRED grant, eight community colleges, four in Mississippi and four in Alabama, used the MEA concepts to develop and implement a comprehensive program of entrepreneur development and support entitled “MyBiz.” The MyBiz program provided technical assistance to communities to help them become “enterprise-ready” and utilize grow-your-own business strategies, developed entrepreneur training programs for use in community colleges and high schools, developed “Start It! Cards” for all communities in East Mississippi and West Alabama, and developed the MyBiz website to help entrepreneurs more easily connect to resource providers. To see the final report for the WIRED grant click here.


MyBiz.AM began as a gateway website that linked local, regional, and national resources to entrepreneurs and communities in West Alabama and East Mississippi. It was expanded to include all of Mississippi. In accordance with the state policy recommendations above, the Resource Navigator and much of the content for this website has been moved to the MDA entrepreneur website: http://www.msenetworks.org/



In 2008, Gov. Barbour, MDA Executive Director Gray Swoope, and MDES Director Tommye Dale Favre provided $1,127,000 to take the MEA program beyond the WIRED region to the rest of Mississippi.  To see the final reports on steps 1 and 2 of this expansion click here or here.



In January 2010, TMI won a competitive ARRA grant through MDES to establish the Mississippi Entrepreneur Training Program at all 15 Mississippi community and junior colleges. The objective of the Mississippi Entrepreneur Training Program (METP) was to assist entrepreneurs statewide to seed and grow businesses. It provided scholarship funding for up to 1000 participants who qualified as dislocated workers and adult workers (including pre‐release incarcerated individuals) to enroll in entrepreneurship training provided through the 15 Mississippi community and junior colleges. To see the final report for the METP program click here.



The Nexus Hero program provided technical assistance to 14 communities in East Mississippi to help them expand broadband usage, increase e-commerce activities, and provide outreach workshops to entrepreneurs to show them how to use the Internet to expand their markets.  A $10,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation provided funds for TMI to offer these workshops to other communities in East Mississippi.


Noah Everett, creator of highly successful Twitpic, joined Grace Bateman, founder of PeruPaper.com, to keynote the Nexus Hero – Internet Business Workshop for Tomorrow’s Game Changers workshop held in Meridian, MS, in June 2010.