3Qs: Judd Wilson, director of small business development at the Community Development Foundation

By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal

The Renasant Center for IDEAs, the regional business incubator for Tupelo and Lee County, is undergoing an expansion to make more space available for aspiring entrepreneurs. Daily Journal business reporter Sarah Robinson spoke with Judd Wilson, director of small business development at the Community Development Foundation, about the center.

Q. How do you get a space at the center?
A. We have an application that you fill out. Once we review the application and meet with the prospective client company, we go over their business plan and the goals for their company. During that process we determine if the client company and our services are together a good fit.

Q. What is a specific example of a successful business that “grew up” at the center and has since moved on?
A. Hyperion Technology started in one office and quickly grew to occupy half of the second floor. They also expanded into both manufacturing spaces we have at the center.
This growth also expanded in job count. When they graduated from the Renasant Center for IDEAs, they were at 12 full-time and six part-time employees, made up of mechanical, electrical and software engineers. Hyperion designs and builds sensors and sensing systems for military and civilian use, with clients including Honda, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, Los Alamos National Laboratory and TRW Automotive. Geoff Carter, President of Hyperion, still gives back to the incubator as a speaker and mentor.

Q. What educational opportunities are available for entrepreneurs?
A. Danny Liles, with Mississippi Development Authority’s Entrepreneur Center, is in our incubator. MDA’s Entrepreneur Center provides marketing, management and technical assistance to new and existing small businesses. Charles Killebrew with the Mississippi Small Business Development Center is in our incubator, and he provides business counseling and classes on business plans and starting a business.
We also have Bill Burge from the Northeast Mississippi Contract Procurement Center in the center once a week. Bill helps those with contracting information. All of these services are available to all entrepreneurs and small business owners, not just those in the Renasant Center for IDEAs.