TUPELO – In the six years it has been operating, the Renasant Center for IDEAs business incubator has done exactly what it set out to do – nurture new businesses and give them the tools they need.
Since 2007, 15 businesses have “graduated” from the center and created some 370 jobs.
Today, 26 clients employ about 125 people at the Renasant Center, which just completed a renovation that added more space.
Officials with the city, county and the Community Development Foundation, along with other business leaders on Tuesday held a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the $125,000 project.
“We’ve added nine new offices,” said Judd Wilson, the CDF’s director of small business development. “We were filled up before that. In addition, we’ve added a new meeting room.”
Most of the expansion came via the flex space on the building’s second floor. As Toyota Mississippi was ramping up operations and building its plant in Blue Springs, the automaker’s offices occupied the space. It was essentially a shell, and the project added walls to the area.
Among one of the Renasant Center’s more recent clients is Karen Salters, who opened her Uniquely Yours event planning business in September.
She praised the center’s services, which include Internet, cable, phone and fax services; business basics, management and financial training; and technical, accounting and research support.
“Without the IDEAs center, we wouldn’t have grown as we have and met the people that we have,” she said.
Another success story is Scott Chase of Chase Computer Services. He moved from his house’s garage to the Renasant Center in October and had to move to a bigger space in March as business flourished.
It is those type of entrepreneurs officials want to attract to the center.
“The addition of the new space will foster new business growth and will enable CDF to further expand its programs and services for new and existing businesses in our community,” said CDF President and CEO David Rumbarger.