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Blueprint Mississippi Outlines Goals for Improving Economy and Education

By Rhonda Miller | Published 08 Dec 2011 10:30pm | comments
Blueprint Mississippi in Gulfport.

Blueprint Mississippi is tackling the most stubborn problems facing the state. The strategy is to get regional leaders to form a shared vision and work together to accomplish their goals. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports on how the vision came into focus at a Rotary Club meeting in Gulfport Thursday.

".. 79, 83 keep going, keep voting, top three priorities.."

Mississippi Economic Council President Blake Wilson guides more than 100 Rotary Club members in using little electronic clickers to instantly register their priorities for moving the state forward. 

"Has everybody voted?  OK , close the machine, let's see the results, OK, the number one on the hit parade is educational achievement, followed very closely by the economy, not surprising."

Another priority is to encourage the creative economy, which focuses on the arts and entrepreneurship.

Blueprint Mississippi found education, especially early childhood education, a top priority among business leaders. Some communities have already started preK programs.  Cynthia Walker is project director for PreK4Ward. It’s funded by foundations and private donations. It began two years ago in Gulfport and started a second classroom in Waveland. Walker says Mississippi business leaders understand the pressing need to develop an educated and skilled workforce.

"Even college graduates are having to go back through some skill remediations,'" says Walker. "That is something businesses no longer can afford in this economy. We need our workers to come out and be able to perform the job we need."

Sooner or later, all good ideas need money to make them work. Mississippi Power CEO Ed Day chairs the resource committee for Blueprint Mississippi. He says the recommendations will be taken to state officials.

"What we’re hoping is,  we can present this roadmap, if you will, going forward, called Blueprint Mississippi 2011, and they will take that then and use it to propel the state forward," says Day.

The final Blueprint Mississippi will be presented to lawmakers in January.




Blueprint Mississippi in Gulfport.



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