The Inner City Entrepreneur (ICE) Institute, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, commonly known as the ICE Institute, was formed on February 18, 1998, under the guidance of Ed Morrison/David Dodd and Associates, economic consultants. The first meeting was called by James K. Elrod, the President of Willis Knighton Health Systems (WKHS), acting chairman and the driving force behind the organization’s formation. ICE officially opened its office at 820 Jordan Street and started operations on May 1, 1998. The mission of the ICE Institute was to start rebuilding the inner city economy of Shreveport, Louisiana through entrepreneurial education and business investment, fostering a healthier inner-city economy to create new jobs, increase income and wealth, and economic opportunities for inner-city residents. The business concept for an African American business development institute for Shreveport such as ICE was first proposed in 1996 by Roy Burrell, a Shreveport City Councilman at the time, who struggled with the lack of minority businesses in the City. “The 1984 Mount Auburn Study” and “A Time to Choose Study”, both commissioned by the City of Shreveport, recommended such an organization because of the region’s rapidly growing minority population that had not historically been included in the mainstream economy. These two studies warned the community leadership that Shreveport-Bossier would never reach its full economic potential until the minority population was meaningfully included in its mainstream commercial activities.
Since ICE’s inception in 1998, it has been quietly structuring long term redevelopment strategies to transform the inner city once again into a center of commerce and residential development by implementing changes in governmental public policy and encouraging public-private initiatives that support investments, innovations, and educational growth. To help spur urban economic redevelopment, ICE has offered and proposed many government policy changes at the city and state levels. Finally, the ICE Institute is very proud of its work to provide internationally recognized, cutting edge entrepreneurship education, life-skills, and leadership training for today’s at-risk youth.
Students are exposed to and actively participate in the real world of business through the BizCamp Program, developed in conjunction with partners such as the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), Caddo Parish Schools, Centenary College, Southern University at Shreveport, and Northwestern State University of Louisiana’s Nursing and School of Allied Health Education Center as a vehicle to propel many youngsters toward a life of independence and leadership. Over more than 18 years, the local BizCamp program has graduated well over 750 students. Currently, it is starting to expand its program offerings as a yearly high school curriculum and after-school program in addition to vocational training. BizCamp has begun to incorporate financial literacy as an educational component to strengthen its life-skills training. Furthermore, BizCamp is developing a continuing business education experience by establishing its own youth entrepreneurship market place, a storefront and internet café for BizCamp graduates to incubate their budding business enterprises while experiencing real-world challenges in the market place.
The local BizCamp was created in 2001 by the Inner City Entrepreneur (ICE) Institute, in affiliation with Southern University at Shreveport and Caddo Parish Schools. Currently, the two-week entrepreneurship training program activities will take place at the Northwestern State University of Louisiana’s Nursing and School of Allied Health Education Center, located at 1800 Line Avenue, Shreveport, LA. Registration will take place on the first day of camp. Parents/guardians are always given notice when BizCamp activities are held off-site.
Inner city youth ages 13 to 17 (and young adults in our Job Corps division) learn the necessary skills to handle all facets of business ownership that will later allow them to revitalize their community. Youth who are invited to join the program can expect to participate in dynamic workshops, use interactive business education software, and listen to presentations made by motivational business leaders, and go on field trips to exciting destinations. BizCamp may be considered one of the most dynamic and fun-filled summer camp projects. The program has been hailed as an ultimate success by all who have witnessed the significant impact on the average student, transforming their state of mind and dreams into potential business leaders of tomorrow.