McLean Institute Partners with IHL for Virtual Event April 13-14

April 01, 2021

Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum to bring business leaders and developers together


Committee members meet virtually to plan activities for the 2021 Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum. The sixth annual event is slated to be broadcast online April 13-14. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – In an effort to showcase a variety of resources available to aspiring business owners across the state, the University of Mississippi‘s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement will co-host the 2021 Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum on April 13-14.

The event, which will be held virtually from Ridgeland, brings together leading entrepreneurs, economic developers, innovators and future business owners to learn more about the entrepreneurial climate and the future of entrepreneurship in Mississippi. Registration for the forum will be on the Cadence event platform on the MEF website.

“Events like the Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum help aspiring business owners gain valuable knowledge and practical applications and expose them to resources that are available to help them in their growth,” said John Rounsaville, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. “Small businesses are the cornerstone of Mississippi’s economy, and forums such as this one provide an invaluable network of support that help lead to success.”

For the first time in its six-year history, the forum will host a virtual NextUp Student Pitch Competition, on April 13. Tasha Bibb, entrepreneurial development director with Innovate Mississippi, has coordinated the planning team’s efforts for the pitch competition, thanks to a financial gift from the Mississippi Development Authority.

Videos submitted by students will be streamed, followed by a live Q&A with the students and judges. The event is part of the Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development initiative, which is funded by the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation.

“Participants will learn how colleges and universities in Mississippi are involved in entrepreneurial activities,” said J.R. Love, McLean Institute project manager. “Furthermore, they will be engaged on topics related to community and economic development in Mississippi.”

Panels on technology and innovation, student entrepreneurship, and the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem will be conducted virtually April 14. Winners of the pitch competition also will be announced that day.

Previous Forums have been held in Clarksdale, Tupelo, Greenwood, Oxford and Jackson.

MEF planning committee members include:

  • J.R. Love and Allyson Best, of the University of Mississippi
  • Tasha Bibb, Innovate Mississippi
  • John Brandon, Mississippi College
  • Glendscene Williams, Delta State University
  • Marty Brock, Mississippi University for Women
  • Carolyn Davis, Alcorn State University
  • Christopher Lomax, Millsaps College
  • Saundra McFarland, Jackson State University
  • Lori Burke, ERDCWERX
  • Nash Nunnery, Mississippi Development Authority
  • Rochelle McGee-Cobbs, Mississippi Valley State University
  • Jeffrey Rupp, Mississippi State University
  • Will Tabor, Belhaven University
  • James Wilcox, University of Southern Mississippi

For more information about the 2021 Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum, visit, or contact J.R. Love at or Tasha Bibb at