OUR OPINION: State of the Region offers sharp insights


The 2013 edition of the State of the Region meeting, coordinated by the CREATE Foundation, begins at 9:30 a.m. today in the BancorpSouth Conference Center in downtown Tupelo.

Three issues fill the agenda: state and regional perspectives on economic development, education and legislative activity.

The public is invited to the free event, which begins with registration at 8:30 a.m. at the BancorpSouth Conference Center. The program begins at 9:30 a.m.

These are the principal speakers:

• Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, the keynote speaker, will talk about Mississippi’s future. Gunn was elected speaker in January 2012, the first Republican to hold the office in 136 years.

• Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the Golden Triangle Development Link, will focus on Columbus, Lowndes County and the Golden Triangle Area. Lowndes County was added last year as the 17th county served by the CREATE Foundation.

• Tom Burnham, interim director of the Mississippi Principal Corps, will talk about the value of leadership in education. Burnham twice served as Mississippi’s state superintendent of education, as well as dean of the University of Mississippi School of Education.

Mississippi State University’s College of Education and the UM School of Education have launched a new Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program. The schools’ deans, Dr. Richard Blackbourn and Dr. Ryan Niemeyer, will describe the joint effort.

The State of the Region offers important information and perspective about the changing dynamics shaping the 17 counties served by CREATE.

All are welcome at the plenary sessions, which are non-partisan and solely focused on the future of Northeast Mississippi.

The 8:30 registration hour has evolved into a major networking opportunity. Business, civic and institutional leaders from the Tennessee line to Starkville and from Oxford to Columbus will be at the meeting, plus entrepreneurs and others deeply committed to progressive prosperity in the region.

The Commission on the Future of Northeast Mississippi is a major private-sector program component of the CREATE Foundation. It was organized in 1995 with a major personal gift from the late Anna Keirsey McLean of Tupelo, a philanthropist and chairman of Journal Inc. Its board today is comprised of 54 leaders from the region.

NEMS Daily Journal