Friday, July 15, 2011
Jackson State University's Center of Business and Economic Development offers a wide array of services to help small businesses and nonprofits thrive in Jackson.
Speaking at Koinonia Coffee House's Friday Forum this morning, center director Lurlene Irvin explained how the center can help small businesses and nonprofits navigate the federal government's process for obtaining grant money and contracts.
The center is a component of JSU's College of Business. The center receives only a small portion of funding through the university and receives the majority of its funds through federal grants. It researches marketing and revenue strategies for businesses in addition to helping organizations obtain funding, and it also helps entrepreneurs write their business plans.
For anyone who wants to start a nonprofit, Irvin demonstrated how to research the amount of funds the federal government has available. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance contains a detailed program description for 2,183 federal assistance programs.
Making connections with federal program directors is key, Irvin said.
"You need a friend on the inside," Irvin said. "In life they always tell you it's who you know, right? Not so. It's you knows you that matters more."
While grants are few and far between for small business, several businesses are eligible for federal contracts.
The grant proposals with the strongest writing are the ones most likely to receive funds, Irvin said.
West Jackson businessman Bill Cooley, who has worked with the center, asked how the center can partner more with the community.
"We are often asked to write letters of support and to contract with various agencies in the community," Irvin said. "We have contracted with agencies as far away as the Delta, and we are working with a group now in Yazoo City. But that's not here at home. I say that because whenever we are called upon to be a partner with a group, we are there. ... We send our staff out to do training to agencies that might need help."
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