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Blueprint Mississippi 2011 Launched

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 06 Jan 2011 09:32am | comments

Mississippi's business, educational, and social leaders announce plans form a so-called Blueprint, to guide the state forward. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the Mississippi Economic Council has raised a million dollars to produce the Blueprint Mississippi 2011.

The first Blueprint came in 2004 and the Mississippi Economic Council announced the second Blueprint at a Thursday meeting in Jackson.

M-E-C president Blake Wilson wants to release their recommendations in October, to influence the debate during state wide elections.

"We want to be in the place of greatest opportunity to take full advantage of the economic development, education, technology and resource challenges that we have coming down the pike. We want to be able to meet them head on and turn them into the greatest opportunities," Wilson said.

The economy is number one, but a recent MEC survey put education as the second highest issue of concern for Mississippians.

Commissioner of Higher Education Hank Bounds says the first Blueprint had measurable improvements which they can build on.

"We went from one of the lowest level curriculums in the country to one of the most rigorous. We have an effective dropout prevention program that has been put in place," Bounds said.

2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders trip to Mississippi and the new Blueprint includes race relations as a top priority. Freedom Rider Hank Thomas says relations are no longer hateful, but are far from ideal.

"But I see people still being uncomfortable. In terms of white people, they don't know if they are going to say the wrong thing. And with the black people we are pensive, because soon or later, they are going to say the wrong thing," Thomas said.

The MEC will visit 18-cities in the next three months to collect the ideas and recommendations that will form the Blueprint.

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