The City of Tupelo has been recognized for its successful efforts in the creation of The IDEA Center, Tupelo and Lee County’s business incubator. Tupelo business and political leaders accepted the award in the Rural Business Projects category at a conference held by USDA Rural Development and the Economic Development Resource Center at the University of Southern Mississippi in Oxford.
“The City of Tupelo is honored to receive this USDA Rural Development award,” said Tupelo Mayor Ed Neelly. “I believe that our new business incubator will enhance the growth of entrepreneurial enterprise in our area for many years to come. Innovative steps to create successful new business will be a definite plus for all of Northeast Mississippi.”
The IDEA Center was one of three nominated for recognition for their innovation in projects fully or partially funded through USDA Rural Development monies. The business incubator was funded in part by a grant of $200,000 from USDA Rural Development, along with another $2.4 million in leveraged funding from other sources.
The award was presented by USDA Undersecretary of Agriculture for Rural Development Thomas Dorr and USDA Rural Development State Director Nick Walters to a large delegation from Tupelo, including Mayor Ed Neelly and representatives from Tennessee Valley Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission, Community Development Foundation, and numerous other participating entities.
“This business incubator is just the latest in a long, long history of progressive moves taken by Tupelo and her leaders – moves which have earned Tupelo a well-deserved reputation as one of Mississippi’s most visionary communities,” said Walters, upon presentation of the award. “Tupelo is a light that leads Mississippi and the South, and where Tupelo goes, others would do well to follow.”