Small Business Development Center Opens Gulf Coast Resource Center

May 22, 2021

New resource available to assist business owners in historic Gulfport Building

BY MICHELLE THOMPSON

Officials from the Mississippi Small Business Development Center, headquartered at the University of Mississippi, celebrated the opening of the Gulf Coast Business Resource Center on Thursday (May 20) in downtown Gulfport. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

GULFPORT, Miss. – Officials from the Mississippi Small Business Development Center, headquartered at the University of Mississippi, celebrated the opening of the Gulf Coast Business Resource Center on Thursday (May 20) in downtown Gulfport.

Sponsored by Hancock Whitney, the Gulf Coast Business Resource Center is on the eighth floor of the historic Gulfport Building at Hancock Whitney Plaza. The new business center will provide one-on-one counseling, workshops, technical assistance and international trade expertise.

Officials from the Mississippi Small Business Development Center, headquartered at the University of Mississippi, celebrated the opening of the Gulf Coast Business Resource Center on Thursday (May 20) in downtown Gulfport.. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Officials from the Mississippi Small Business Development Center, headquartered at the University of Mississippi, celebrated the opening of the Gulf Coast Business Resource Center on Thursday (May 20) in downtown Gulfport.. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The full-time staff includes trained MS-SBDC business counselors and an international trade specialist. The staff is expected to grow as the center welcomes other collaborative partners and cements the center as a go-to hub for business resources in south Mississippi.

“Today marks a milestone for our small business community and for our company,” said John M. Hairston, Hancock Whitney president and CEO. “We welcome the MS-SBDC Business Resource Center to our Hancock Whitney headquarters. Locating the center on our corporate campus creates a true hub of resources specifically designed to help small businesses succeed.

“Additionally, we feel like we’ve come full circle in a long, productive relationship between SBA and our bank. In good times, we’ve worked closely with SBA to help small businesses thrive. In the wake of crises affecting our area and local businesses, we’ve rolled up our sleeves with SBA and their affiliates to get much-needed money to people and businesses working together to move forward.”

Hancock Whitney, which was founded in south Mississippi in 1899, opened a location in Gulfport during the height of the Great Depression at the request of local business and community leaders. By 1939, the bank moved its corporate domicile from Bay St. Louis to the Gulfport Building.

Its corporate headquarters have remained in Gulfport, and are now in the 15-story Hancock Whitney Plaza tower. Hancock Whitney is the largest bank headquartered in Mississippi and consistently rates as one of America’s strongest, safest financial institutions.

Adele Lyons, CEO of Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, kicked off the festivities with a ribbon cutting, officially opening the new resource center.

The Gulf Coast Business Resource Center is on the eighth floor of the historic Gulfport Building at Hancock Whitney Plaza. The new business center will provide one-on-one counseling, workshops, technical assistance and international trade expertise. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The Gulf Coast Business Resource Center is on the eighth floor of the historic Gulfport Building at Hancock Whitney Plaza. The new business center will provide one-on-one counseling, workshops, technical assistance and international trade expertise. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Following the ceremony, Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes gathered with Hairston and Sharon Nichols, MS-SBDC state director, to address a small group in the first-floor lobby. The speakers celebrated the collaborative launch and the benefits for area business owners and entrepreneurs.

“If Mississippi’s small business ecosytem is successful and growing, then the economy of our state is successful and growing,” Nichols said. “The Mississippi SBDC is here to assist business owners and start-ups find and connect to the resources they need to grow and thrive.

“Collaboration is the future and together with Hancock Whitney, we will make sure that small businesses in South Mississippi have every opportunity to thrive.”

The Gulf Coast Business Resource Center is available to small business owners across the Gulf Coast region. More information can be found at https://mississippisbdc.org/.