Meet The Black Woman Transforming 12 Abandoned Acres Into $25 Million Tech Hub in Mississippi

Dr. Nashlie Sephus purchased 12 abandoned acres to develop a $25 million tech hub for entrepreneurs in Mississippi. On September 11, 2020, the Jackson native closed on the purchase of 12 acres and seven buildings near Jackson State University. Now, she’s putting in the work to transform her vision into a reality to help the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“I think it’s really important for me to give back to the community that helped shape me and I always love to see people get enthused and exposed to technology and so I wanted to make that process a little bit easier,” Dr. Sephus shared with WLBT.

Last month, she shared her passion for her work in a LinkedIn post. “Some may not understand my labor of love and life’s mission of helping underserved communities reach their full potential in STEM. It’s not easy, but it WILL happen.”

Becoming an AI Leader

Dr. Sephus has spent her career as a successful engineer. She’s an Applied Science manager for Amazon Aritificial Intelligence. Previously, she led the Amazon Visual Search team in Atlanta. She was also a Chief Technology Officer for Partpic, a startup that was acquired by Amazon.

Education has played a major role in Sephus’ career journey. In 2014, She earned her Ph.D. from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Earlier in her career, she received her B.S. in Computer Engineering from Mississippi State University.

Dr. Sephus furthers her community outreach vision as the founder and CEO of The Bean Path in Jackson, Mississippu. It’s a non-profit organization with a mission to “sow technical expertise in order to grow networks and fertilize communities.”

The Development of a Tech Hub

Dr. Sephus is providing new opportunities to residents in Jackson. She’s putting Downtown Jackson on the map for tech innovation through her land purchase.

The five-year plan includes developing seven of the abandoned buildings. The space will be transformed into a photography studio, electronics lab, and maker’s space. Sephus also has plans for restaurants, a grocery store, innovation center, and apartments, according to Inc. 

“My goal is to turn this space into a self-sustaining village where people can live, work, play, and eat,” Sephus shares with Inc.

The idea to develop a community tech hub occurred to Sephus while looking for office space for Bean Path. The abandoned areas in Downtown Jackson were once booming hot spots for black-owned businesses in Mississippi. Now, Sephus has a vision of turning impoverished streets of Jackson into a vibrant tech hub.

“It’s clear that people don’t expect anything good to come from Jackson,” she says. “So it’s up to us to build something for our hometown, something for the people coming behind us.”

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