Mississippi has a rich culture that draws people in from all over the world. Now communities are learning how to utilize their resources.

 

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Creative Economy: Cities and Towns Learning How to Utilize Their Culture

By Daniel Cherry | Published 10 Aug 2011 07:03pm | comments

Arts and culture are some of Mississippi's most important commodities. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how economic developers are working with communities to show how to harness creative resources.

Whether it's for the Blues, food, or the Civil War, people come from all over the world to see what Mississippi has to offer. Towns have an opportunity to capitalize on their assets if used properly. Meg Cooper is the Coordinator of the Mississippi Lower Delta Partnership. She's teaching developers from across the state how to use what's around them.

"One of the best ways is to have people who aren't from your community to come in and look at those because we get so used to seeing stuff every day and we take it for granted. Visitors to your community can tell you, 'That's unique. That's something you need to develop, ya'll need to build on that people would love to come here and see.'"

The Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Arts Commission held a summit using the results of a 3 year study to show cities and towns how to utilize their culture. Melissa Medley with the MDA says Mississippi has a perfect opportunity to grow if people will get on board.

"Ask Robert Plant. Ask Eric Clapton. Why did they come to Mississippi to be energized and inspired in their music? We've got something that other people want, and we have the means and the opportunity to build on that, to create jobs around that, and to create prosperity for our communities."

The study shows creative resources like arts, music, and architecture employ more than 60 thousand people statewide...about three percent of the total workforce. Malcom White is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission.

"For me, it's this great baseline of where we start. Imagine if it's 3% 60,000 jobs without trying, what it could be if we put a little energy behind it."

Developers say the economic potential of these kinds of projects won't replace manufacturing or agriculture as drivers of the state economy, but it can be a significant supplement.  

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