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Released August 29, 2003


HATTIESBURG - The University of Southern Mississippi's Department of Economic Development is aggressively planning its future and including in its strategic vision the input of economic development professionals from across Mississippi. As the process of expanding the department's offerings continues, there are plans to include professionals from across the nation in the ongoing discussions.

Last week, Southern Miss administrators met with a large group of public and private sector economic development professionals on the Hattiesburg campus for the purpose of mapping out the future of economic development at Southern Miss. The meeting, which alternated between prepared presentations and impromptu exchanges, yielded significant results.

"The economic developers of Mississippi gave their strong support to the growth plans of the department of economic development," said Dr. Ken Malone, the department's chair.

One specific plan that came from the meeting is the idea of "branding" the Southern Miss Department of Economic Development as the economic development department of the United States. This is fitting, as Southern Miss is the only university in the nation to offer a master's and doctorate in economic development.

"Also," Malone said, "we reaffirmed the importance of the internship program, which places our students to work with these economic developers. This incorporates the high synergy of both the practitioner and the academician teaching the student."

The recent conference gave Southern Miss administrators a chance to show economic development professionals what Southern Miss is doing to serve and enhance their field. Evidence of that ongoing and expanding effort is all around at Southern Miss, Malone said.

"We have a president (Dr. Shelby Thames) who has made economic development a mission of the university, and the only vice president of research and economic development (Dr. Angeline Dvorak) of any university in the country," Malone said. "Also, we have a newly formed College of Business and Economic Development, which increases the important synergy of business and economic development curriculum.

And we have a commitment to offer the economic development degree in a distance learning format that will be available across the nation."

Steven Hardin, director of the regional services division of the Mississippi Development Authority, attended last week's meeting, and said that it was a valuable experience for all involved.

"The economic development profession by nature cannot be done by one individual or one organization," Hardin said. "It truly is a partnership. One of the good things about The University of Southern Mississippi's program is that it is so unique, and then, in addition to that, they do a good job of reaching out to their various allies. This meeting is a good example of that."


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM