Twelve graduates of JCJC’s “Operation JumpStart” launch new businesses

Written By: Teresa McCreery
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Date Submitted: 2013-09-13 12:38:26

ELLISVILLE – Twelve new entrepreneurs are better prepared to realize their dreams of owning and operating their own small businesses as graduates of Jones County Junior College’s new program, “Operation JumpStart.” The group just completed the six-week, nationally-recognized and highly successful training course teaching participants essential small business planning and preparation skills with practical hands-on training from experts in the field. 
“The pilot class went much better than expected, so much so that we are encouraged to plan a very active schedule of future classes,” said program director, Gary Suddith. 
The group of prospective business owners met Tuesday and Thursday evenings for three hours learning how to develop business and marketing plans, as well as receiving hands on training from experts in the banking and other industries.
“I wish I had this training six months ago,” said Clarence Sims who just opened a health spa in Mendenhall.
“It has helped me tremendously in moving forward.”
Another graduate, Markeesa Ulmer of Taylorsville said, “I really appreciated the feedback about my business and learning some new techniques.”   She plans on coordinating events and wedding.
Other entrepreneurs include Tommy Warren of Bay Springs who has visions of opening a party and events business, renting everything from “fun jumps” to sound equipment and tents. He said he would draw on his 15 years of work experience with Hol-mac industries and JCJC’s Operation JumpStart course to help him be successful. 
Waynesboro retired teacher, Priscilla Flanagan aspires to open up a business called the “Community Connection,” with an educational supply store, Internet Café’, community room, back porch and a kid’s play room.
In Collins, Merria Speights has dreams of opening an assisted living center employing six people. Mt. Olive may have a fitness center according to the hopeful owner and recent graduate of the OJS program, Melissa Duckworth and Shana Hortman hopes to bring a vegetable business to the small Covington County community.

Mendenhall’s life-skills specialist, Artaymis Moat Carter has several non-profit and profit businesses in mind, including making homemade granola, selling nature photography and website-based mentoring for teens and the elderly. 
Jones County should see several service oriented enterprises including Wendy Crosby’s catering company called “A Measure of Faith,” Shelia Horn’s laundry and alteration service, and Van Alford’s lawn care and more. Alford said he’d like to also utilize the leadership skills from his 33 years in the military to help his community through his business.
“I hope my business will be able to help employ area youth, which will also give me an opportunity to mentor them. Eventually I hope to expand my business into doing home repairs,” said Alford who is one of the four veterans in the OJS graduating class.  
Commuters traveling in the Hattiesburg area will soon see Wayne Dahmer’s new convenient store off of Interstate 59. The retired U.S. Postal worker reportedly has his eyes on a particular section of the interstate that is in need of his services. 

“More than 168,000 people travel through the area I have planned to develop to get to the nearest gas and convenient store. I plan on offering competitive prices and a clean and comfortable place that will exceed the expectations and needs of travelers,” said Dahmer.
If everyone’s business plan comes to fruition, Suddith will proudly boast the programs’ goals will have been met with the first class.
“When we decided to offer Operation JumpStart our goal was to start 15 new businesses each year providing 50 new jobs in the Pine Belt. If we succeed, we will have a significant impact on the employment rates in the JCJC eight-county district as well as increasing federal, state and local tax revenues by promoting microenterprise development.”

As an example of entrepreneurial success, Suddith invited Rocky Purvis to inspire OJS graduates. The JCJC graduate shared how he rose to the top of Sanderson Farms as its corporate sales coordinator, to owning several local businesses including KaRocks restaurant, a billboard company and a blueberry farm.
“My best advice to you is to just ask. Go to God and ask. In Jeremiah 33:3 the Bible tells us to call unto God and He will answer and He will show you great and many things. Ask people. I asked for a raise, I asked about buying every business and it has changed my life,” said Purvis.
Supporting partners of the JCJC OJS program, like Mississippi Power Company, Bancorp South, First State Bank, Operation Workforce and JCJC’s experts offered hands-on training and business advice during the program’s six week training. 
Suddith said, “The methods the Operation JumpStart course utilizes ensure a greater success rate over the long term for new businesses. Instead of just telling people what they need to do to start a business, Operation JumpStart shows them how to do it.”
The success of this first class has other industry partners interested in offering their services and hosting the program in their counties according to Suddith.  “I’m very optimistic about the positive economic impact this program will have on the Pine Belt region.”
The Operation JumpStart tuition is $750 however, qualifying applicants may be able to receive a $250 scholarship discount from JCJC and a $250 scholarship from a participating sponsor, leaving the remaining $250 to be paid by the participant. Qualifying veterans may receive a full $750 tuition scholarship.
To apply for this new business coaching and training program, contact: Crystal Nail at 601-477-4235, Gary Suddith at 601-477-4165, or Shannon Wilks at 601-477-4114 at JCJC’s Whitehead Advanced Technology Center in Ellisville.


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