HISTORY OF ICE

The Inner City Entrepreneur (ICE) Institute, a not-for-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 regions' rapidly growing minority population who had not historically been included in the main stream 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 of Louisiana, Northwestern State University of Louisiana, and Southern University at Shreveport, as a vehicle to propel many youngsters toward a life of independence and leadership. In BizCamp's 16 years, it has graduated over 1000 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 store-front and internet café for BizCamp graduates to incubate their budding business enterprises while experiencing real-world challenges in the market place. None of this would be possible without the vision, caring, and benevolence of one man - James K. Elrod. So, on behalf of the ICE Institute and its Board of Directors, we are honored to name its first business education program the "James K. Elrod- BizCamp Summer Youth Program". He is a man who truly deserves it.