November 27, 2014  

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Southern Miss’ True South Course Draws Participants From Gulf South Region

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Attendees of the True South Basic Economic Development Course held Sept. 19-22 at Southern Miss heard several key addresses from economic development experts. (Submitted photo)

The University of Southern Mississippi hosted the “True South Basic Economic Development Course” Sept. 19-22 at the Trent Lott National Center on the Hattiesburg campus.  More than 34 participants from Florida, Mississippi and Alabama attended the four-day program.

The course is the first step toward becoming a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD). A 2010 Salary Survey of Economic Development Professionals found that economic development professionals who complete the rigorous certification process earn on average $26,100 more than their non-certified colleagues.

The annual program offers a rare opportunity for graduate students and practitioners of economic development, including elected and appointed leaders, to gain practical knowledge combined with the latest academic information.

The curriculum provided broad exposure to key aspects of economic and community development, including workforce development, business retention and expansion, community development, finance, strategic planning, ethics, entrepreneurial and small business development, and managing economic development organizations. 

The program also featured an announcement that Jay Paul Gumm, executive director at Stone County Economic Development Partnership, will be awarded the Jimmy & Ray Heidel Economic Development Leadership Award during an official presentation at the Mississippi Economic Development Council Winter Conference. 

The award, which consists of a plaque and a scholarship for additional professional training, is given annually to a course participant who is an economic development practitioner with promising leadership skills. 

 “We are very fortunate to have this resource,” said Gumm of the four-day course.  “I had a wonderful time and made a lot great contacts.”

Featured lectures included “Managing an Economic Development Organization” by Blake Wilson, president of the Mississippi Economic Council, Jackson, Miss.; “Economic Development Finance” by David Rumbarger, executive director of the Community Development Foundation, Tupelo, Miss.; and “Economic Development Ethics Workshop” by Jay Moon, president and CEO of Mississippi Manufacturers Association, Jackson, Miss. 

Students participated in team exercises simulating real-life economic development negotiations. The course also included a day trip to the Gulf Coast, where students met with economic development leaders, toured downtown Ocean Springs and viewed improved downtown business facades in Gulfport.

Partners who helped host the event included the Mississippi Development Authority, Mississippi Power Company, Mississippi Economic Development Council, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Alliance for Economic Development. 

Next year's True South course will be Sept. 17-20, 2012, with MEDC scholarship applications offered starting in October. For more information, contact Dr. Chad Miller at 601.266.6666 or chad.r.miller@usm.edu.