Blueprint recommendations to be released on Thursday

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Leaders of an effort to develop a plan for Mississippi’s future growth will be in Tupelo on Thursday to announce their recommendations.
Blueprint Mississippi 2011 was first announced in January as an effort by the Mississippi Economic Council and other private sector groups to create a strategy for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity.
Hank Bounds and Blake Wilson will join Northeast Mississippi leaders in Tupelo for a briefing that will outline the project’s recommendations and action steps.
Bounds is the commissioner of Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning and is serving as chair of the project. Wilson is president and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council.
They will be at the BancorpSouth Conference Center for a lunch between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday. The event is one of three planned stops, including meetings in Jackson and Biloxi. All three meetings are free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required at www.blueprint mississippi.com.
After the recommendations are unveiled, the full report and documentation will be released in January at the MEC Capital Day.
It was at that event last year that the project was first introduced. Representatives then attended 20 Road Show meetings across the state to get feedback and held web conferences with more than 1,000 volunteer stakeholders.
Research was conducted by Mississippi universities, and a 74-member citizen-led advisory council met during the summer to determine key priorities. A 45-member steering council finalized the goals and recommendations.
The process focused on four broad areas: educational achievement, resource management, economic competitiveness and technology commercialization. It also looked at issues that cut across all four areas: community life, racial reconciliation, health care and infrastructure.
The plan was funded by $1.25 million in private sector funds, according to a news release from the MEC.
After Thursday’s announcement, representatives will go on a statewide tour to gather more information before the final report is released.
The original Blueprint Mississippi was developed in 2004. Recommendations included strengthening the state’s business image, better preparing children for school, increasing the number of high school graduates and diversifying and improving the state’s economic base.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com