‘Amazing things come from ETX,’ organization works to grow new businesses

Jennifer and Anthony Edwards, owners of the East Texas Innovation Center, work with a client on...
Jennifer and Anthony Edwards, owners of the East Texas Innovation Center, work with a client on developing solutions for a new business.(Christian Piekos)
Updated: Feb. 11, 2020 at 1:20 PM CST
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BECKVILLE, Tx. (KSLA) - On a wet and dreary day in Panola County, inside an aging — but historic — building, a power couple of sorts works to bring new life to the region.

This is the East Texas Innovation Center, led by Jennifer and Anthony Edwards.

Its mission is simple: to grow and inspire businesses across East Texas.

“A lot of East Texans want to start a business, but do not know how to get the business off the ground or get that extra nudge,” Jennifer said. “I know that the best way to create jobs is for people to start businesses.”

Fittingly, the East Texas Innovation Center opened its doors in one of the oldest banks in Beckville, a small city about 30 miles south of Marshall.

“What was the first bank in Panola County, it’s amazing to think about this [the bank’s] financial history and for us to be helping people build their financial history over 100 years later,” Anthony said.

Together, the couple leads a series of weekly workshops on a variety of topics, including entrepreneurship, financial stability, social media skills, as well as innovation sessions.

“We want people to know the amazing things that can come from East Texans, we have some of the most brilliant minds,” Jennifer said.

“It creates a way to sustain the economy because if you have businesses that are there, it allows those folks who are working for those businesses to live in that community,” Anthony added.

LaToyia Jordan, an East Texas native, is a beneficiary of the East Texas Innovation Center, launching her own small business at the start of the year. It’s called Toyia Thrives Enterprises.

“I create marketing one-sheets for young ladies 12 and up who have businesses such as hairstyling, makeup and jewelry,” she said. “I was blown away, I was amazed.”

Jordan said her self-esteem rose since enrolling in courses with the Edwardses.

“It even helped me with my confidence, with putting myself out there,” she added.

The couple hopes to launch 100 businesses across the East Texas region over the course of 2020.

For more information on the East Texas Innovation Center, click here

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