The investment will help launch the El Dorado Incubator Environment business accelerator - a powerful new tool to help create jobs across the state.
The Delta Regional Authority will invest more than $185,000 into the El Dorado Incubator Environment - known as EDIE's Village - to provide support for entrepreneurs across Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, and Union counties. Along with the Delta Regional Authority, the partnership will include South Arkansas Community College and the Arkansas Women's Business Center hosted by Winrock International. The DRA approved the project in coordination with Governor Beebe's office last month.
This investment will:
Develop student-run business, expecting 25-30 students to participate in the program;
Launch retail space for 20 local entrepreneurs in a low-cost environment for businesses to sell products;
Leverage additional resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration and Housing and Urban Development; and
Provide one-on-one business development and product marketing counseling for participating entrepreneurs.
Chairman Chris Masingill said, "This investment honors the hard work of our region's small businesses and entrepreneurs. They are truly the lifeblood of the Delta economy - starting and expanding small businesses that create jobs in good times and in bad. Business incubators like EDIE's Village will be on the front lines of that growth, helping these businesses create jobs today and a stronger Delta economy for years to come."
"Governor Beebe often says that small businesses, and the individuals who accept the risk to begin and run them, are the backbone of the economy of this state and region," said Steve Jones, DRA Designee/Alternate for Governor Mike Beebe. "I'm pleased that the Delta Regional Authority recognizes the real potential in this investment, and what it can mean to the Arkansas Delta. The approach that EDIE's Village takes has all of the ingredients necessary for the healthy start and viability of its participant businesses."
"This funding is opening the door--both figuratively and literally--to fantastic opportunities for area business students and budding entrepreneurs," said Dr. Barbara Jones, President of South Arkansas Community College. It will be a capstone learning experience, and we're fortunate to be able to offer it in our community. We at SouthArk see EDIEs Village as an investment in our own economic future."