Ole Miss SBDC building nearing completion

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – After 24 years of being shifted from one space to another, the University of Mississippi Small Business Development Center and the state SBDC network headquarters soon will have a permanent home.
Workers are nearing completion of a 6,100-square-foot building on the south edge of the Ole Miss campus. SBDC officials and the Tupelo-based McCarty Company, which designed the building and oversaw its construction, are making final checks in hopes of beginning move-ins as early as next week.
The new building is next door to the doublewide it has occupied for eight years on Jeanette Phillips Drive, near the Coliseum Drive entrance to campus.
“We decided our location was perfect,” said Robert Forster, associate state director for the SBDC network. “Our client base could come right in from the highway and avoid the traffic in the center of campus.”
When move-in is completed in the next two or three weeks, the SBDC headquarters will not only house 10 employees – five counselors for the local SBDC and five for the state office – but also will provide long-needed facilities.
“We have classrooms in the new building,” Forster said. “Where we were housed in that trailer, we had no space for workshops and seminars. We’d have to go beg space. We will have ample room, ample parking, state-of-the-art technology.”
Having a more desirable building may also help improve clients’ confidence in the services and training they’re receiving.
“People will feel like they’re in a place that’s worthy of its reputation,” Forster said.
The building is designed to meet requirements for Silver certification under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
The design was “attempting to maintain tradition of classical architecture on the campus while integrating modern sustainable design practices,” said project architect and LEED accredited professional Justin Harrington of the Tupelo-based McCarty Company Design Group. “Therefore, many of the techniques used don’t result in highly visible ‘high-tech’ building aesthetics.”
Among the sustainable elements of design and construction were regionally acquired materials to reduce shipping, metal studs and carpets made from recycled materials, low-emission paints, extensive use of natural light and low-energy/low-water mechanical systems. In addition, all construction waste was to be recycled rather than landfilled.
The SBDC network consists of 32 sites – many of them at universities or community colleges – where current or prospective business owners can receive information either in seminars or from individual business counselors. Forrester said the network helps create or retain 1,500 to 1,800 jobs and infuse $40-50 million in fresh capital in the state each year through the enterprises it helps establish, expand or rescue.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.