MEC works on a plan for growth

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Commissioner of Higher Education Hank Bounds will head the latest effort of the Mississippi Economic Council and other private sector groups to put in place a growth plan for the state.
On Thursday, the MEC, which is the state’s chamber of commerce, unveiled plans to develop Blueprint Mississippi 2011.
The original Blueprint Mississippi was developed in 2004 and much of that plan centered on making recommendations to improve the state’s business climate, educational attainment and image.
Scott Waller, a spokesman for the MEC, said Blueprint Mississippi 2011 “is a natural next step.”
Plans for that next step were unveiled Thursday during MEC’s annual Capitol Day, which coincides with the beginning of the legislative session.
“Blueprint Mississippi 2011 gives us a wonderful opportunity to build on the amazing foundation laid by Blueprint 2004 and discover new perspectives to position Mississippi for an even brighter future,” said Bounds, chairman of Blueprint Mississippi 2011. “By gaining insight and input from across the state, we will chart a course for moving the state forward.”
MEC will hold meetings across the state to gather input from community leaders in developing Blueprint Mississippi, which will be released in October. Momentum Mississippi, which is a public-private partnership, and the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development will work with MEC on the effort.
The plan will be put together with $1.25 million in private sector funds, according to a news release from MEC.
The 2004 plan included many goals that the state is still working to attain, such as improving early childhood education and increasing the high school graduation rate. It also included some goals that took legislation to achieve, such as making tax credits available to high-tech companies.
“This is an opportunity to look for new ways to put Mississippi in the position of greatest opportunity,” MEC President Blake Wilson said in a news release. “With the leadership of Dr. Bounds and the commitment of the business community to support this privately funded initiative, Mississippi can truly become the next jewel in the crown of the South.”
According to the news release, Blueprint Mississippi 2011 will center on “educational achievement, resource management economic competitiveness and technology commercialization.”