Bevill program to develop, train business owners

Bevill State Community College is launching a new small business management and development program to give those starting or improving a business the skills they need to run a successful company. Tana Collins, director of public relations for Bevill State, spoke to members of Jasper Main Street’s Economic Vitality Committee Tuesday about the college’s new business management program that has been rebranded with a more efficient organizational structure. The program was first described as an entrepreneur training course, which perhaps scared away applicants, Collins said. “We had initially hoped to start this in the fall, and we found that we were having some trouble getting people to apply,” she said. “It’s that word, ‘entrepreneur.’ It throws people off. A lot of people, when they hear the word ‘entrepreneur,’ they think tech, production, big companies. ... We knew it was the words we were using.” The restructured program will officially begin in spring 2018, and will consist of two eight-week phases. First and foremost, experts will teach valuable business skills that include developing a business plan, strategies, human resources and marketing. Applicants for the program can be people who already have a business, but need more training, or people who are ready to start a business. “Some people are already entrepreneurs. They don’t need to start their business. They need to grow it, expand it or run it more efficiently,” Collins said. “It’s 24/7, 365, and they need to understand what it takes to actually run a business.” At the end of the program, remaining participants will present their business plan in an open forum where investors who have partnered with Bevill State will choose which projects they would like funded in order to start or enhance a business model. The Southern Research Institute, area banks, business owners, Jasper Main Street and the City of Jasper are all partners of the program through Bevill State, and there will be a number of angel investors that will help fund businesses of their choosing.

“They’re writing checks for everything from promotions to scholarships,” Brent McCarver, fundraising consultant for Jasper Main Street, said, adding grants will also be available for those who complete the program. In a flyer from Bevill State, Interim President Dr. Kim Ennis said, “The vision of Bevill State Community College is to set the standard of excellence for education, workforce training, partnerships and economic development. To that end, we are launching this program to encourage and support innovative small business management and growth in our service area.” In June, area business leaders said a goal of the program is to have more businesses call Jasper and the downtown district home as a direct result of the training entrepreneurs will receive who complete the program. “What really drives a local economy are small businesses, local businesses, so fostering that in our community is extremely important,” Collins said. Anyone interested in applying for the program may call BSCC Workforce Solutions Specialist Amanda Clement-Tice at 800-648-3271, ext. 5323. She can also be reached by email at “A lot of people have good ideas, but we’re looking for someone who has the good idea but wants to commit the time and effort to learn how to become a successful entrepreneur,” Clement-Tice told the Daily Mountain Eagle in June. “That’s the candidate we’re looking for, someone who is willing to sit and listen and learn, and interact with the experts that we’re providing, because I think that is one of the most critical components.” Bevill State also offers a management and entrepreneurship program that gives students an opportunity to earn an applied science degree in management and entrepreneurship. Students in the program can earn certificates in business essentials, entrepreneurship, accounting and retail management. The program can be completed online or through a blend of classroom instruction. For more information, visit