What is the Inner City Entrepreneur (ICE) Institute?

• A 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established to encourage competitive
business development initiatives.
• A successful economic development model that leverages private investment instead
of government programs.
• An initiative that promotes entrepreneurial education, encourages private sector
financial investment, and provides technical assistance.

What and where is the Inner City?

The Inner City is the “heart and soul” of our community. It remains one of the most culturally rich and ethnically diverse sections of our city. At one time, the Inner City bustled with Shreveport’s beginnings as a river town and later its place as an oil and gas hub. However, like many larger cities, Shreveport began losing some of its population to the suburbs, and businesses followed. This trend has left many of the Inner City neighborhoods with a declining tax base, poor schools, high crime, and devastating unemployment. Now the Inner City is primarily populated with lower income, unskilled people who will need help to improve their status. The Inner City area of Shreveport is not without opportunities. The ICE Institute understands and appreciates the socio-economic characteristics of each community that comprises the Inner City and views any negative aspects as challenges and opportunities to raise the standards.

How does ICE work to rebuild the Inner City?

Build and market the ICE Institute to the Community
• Examine current city economy
• Implement work plan
• Secure funding commitments
• Complete set-up and staffing

Business Assistance
• Implement client evaluation system
• Provide hands-on assistance and referral for entrepreneurs
• Identify potential and existing business clusters

• Identify grant opportunities
• Market Inner City to investors
• Identify and facilitate creation of capital
• Partner with other successful programs

• Partner with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship
• Partner with school system to teach entrepreneurship in schools
• Support other entrepreneurship development programs

Entrepreneurship Training
• Provide entrepreneurship training for Inner City residents
• Build relationships with existing organizations
• Create a network with existing programs

What are the opportunities and advantages for businesses?

• Strategic location near the Central Business District and major transportation artery
• Distinctive and under-served markets with substantial purchasing power
• Growth opportunities via integration with regional business clusters
• Stable and underutilized workforce with entrepreneurial potential
• Opportunities to build on recent business investment and the developing economy
in the downtown area

What are we accomplishing?

• A higher skilled workforce that can provide a quality labor pool for existing businesses.
• New investment in the Inner City that will provide jobs for inner city residents.
• New opportunities for residents to start their own businesses.
• Increased tax revenues for the City of Shreveport.
• Rising property values in the Inner City.

10 Good Reasons to Invest in the Inner City

1. “It just makes good economic and business sense.” – Dr. Dan Wimberly, former Board President
2. Reverses the trend of economic and residential flight.
3. Creates jobs and increases tax revenues
4. Encourages development and improvement of existing commercial and residential
structures, especially vacant and underutilized properties.
5. Complements sound reinvestment initiatives.
6. Attracts new investment for additional business opportunities and entrepreneurial activities.
7. Promotes minority business development and community revitalization efforts.
8. Supports higher pay wages for a better quality of life and reduced poverty.
9. Develops a skilled workforce and reduces unemployment.
10. Stimulates the rebirth of a healthier Shreveport.

Here’s the full story:

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 20 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.