Blueprint aims to boost Miss. economic prospects

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi can improve its economic outlook by investing in research, reducing government regulation of businesses and developing incentives to attract and retain highly educated workers, particularly those with strong skills in math and science, a new report says.

Blueprint Mississippi 2011 also recommends expanding the health care sector, decreasing the teenage pregnancy rate and creating a high-quality early childhood education and development system.

And it recommends strengthening racial reconciliation efforts.

Hank Bounds, chairman of the Mississippi Economic Council’s Blueprint Mississippi 2011 effort and current state Commissioner of Higher Education, said a main emphasis of the report was on improving Mississippi’s economy.

“We still have lots of work to do … great progress has been made but we still have miles to go,” he said.

Bounds said the long-term goal is to ensure the economy prospers so people’s children and grandchildren can stay in Mississippi and find good jobs when they grow up.

Mississippi Economic Council President Blake Wilson said that over the past eight years Mississippi has greatly improved its work force training and economic incentive programs that it offers to companies to move to the state or to expand existing operations.

“Mississippi has moved into a place of great promise. You’ve got to continue to make sure your edge is sharp,” Wilson said.

On Jan. 5, at the Mississippi Economic Council’s Capital Day, Wilson said they will release a more detailed set of data. He said an action plan to be presented to the new governor and lieutenant governor of what the business community thinks needs to be done to reach Blueprint goals.

Blueprint 2011 was released Thursday during events in Jackson, Tupelo and Biloxi.

The report comes from a $1.25 million, privately funded research project sponsored by the Mississippi Economic Council, the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development and Momentum Mississippi.

Work on the project started in January at several of the state’s universities.

A previous Blueprint Mississippi was released in 2004.

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