Entrepreneurs complete Chamber Bootcamp

Published 9:30 am Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Vicksburg Warren Chamber of Commerce recently concluded the 2023 Vicksburg Entrepreneur Bootcamp and awarded a $1,500 grant to one participant.

The six-week program trains small businesses and entrepreneurs in skills needed to start and grow a business, including market research, accounting, legal, and finance, among others. The program is a partnership between the Vicksburg Warren Chamber of Commerce and Hinds Community College and received financial support from the Cadence Bank Foundation.

The program holds a business plan competition at the end of the coursework, and the winner receives a $1,500 seed grant to support their business. The prize for the Business Plan Competition is sponsored by the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce, the City of Vicksburg, Cadence, Delta Bank, Guaranty Bank, Mutual Credit Union, Regions, River Hills Bank, and Trustmark. Seventeen participants completed the Bootcamp class this year, and eight participated in the business plan competition.

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Graduates of this year’s Bootcamp include Seth Lloyd, Kristen C. Harris, Rebecca Hunt, Larina Mason, LaKesha Harrison Screws, Randy Hayward Jolly, Christine Councell, Shernica L. Ferguson, Chris Rials, Mike Garcia, Ritch Southard, Markita Green, Debraka Paige Williams, Khelli Lockridge, Sharon Johnson, Wendy Boyd, and Maggie Rowland

At a graduation ceremony held on Dec. 6, Janita Stewart, Mississippi District Director with the U.S. Small Business Administration, was the keynote speaker. Chamber and elected officials, including Incoming Chamber President Buddy Dees, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. of the City of Vicksburg, Ed Herring of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, State Rep. Oscar Denton, and State Sen. Briggs Hopson III joined family members of the class to celebrate their graduation. At the same ceremony, Pablo Diaz, Executive Director of the Chamber, announced that graduate Lloyd of Lloyd Forge & Finish had won the business plan competition held the night before.

The instructor for the Entrepreneur Bootcamp was Rob Burnham, Director of Venture Incubator, assisted by a team of experts, including Jim Harper with the Small Business Development Center, Ryan Gilbreth with the Mississippi State University E-Center for Entrepreneurship, as well as volunteers from the business community who mentored the students throughout the class. Local businesses also participated by donating food and refreshments for the class. Sponsoring businesses included Newk’s Eatery, KFC, McAlister’s Deli, Vicksburg Food Truck, Fit Chef Catering, Kelle Barfield of Delta Warren Properties, and Happy Hands Charcuterie.”