Mississippi Public Universities Play Pivotal Role in States Economic Development Efforts
Wed, 01/16/2019 - 17:33pm | By: Caron Blanton
Successfully attracting business and industry to Mississippi requires the dedicated efforts of economic developers, community leaders and elected officials on both state and local levels. University officials also play a key role on the team by providing information on how Mississippi Public Universities can support workforce needs and fulfill research needs to help businesses grow and thrive.
The Jackson State University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is part of a network of Small Business Development Centers across the nation bringing expert business knowledge to small businesses at no cost. The SBDC provides high quality technical assistance to aspiring business owners with the goal of getting businesses open or expanded on a sound business and financial footing.
In Fiscal Year 2017, the MS Small Business Development Centers helped start 217 businesses, create 998 jobs and retain 673 jobs. Their efforts paid off in $52.2 million in capital formation and $10.3 million in new sales growth.
Jackson State University is the nation's first HBCU to enter into a mentor-protégé agreement under NASA's Shared Services Center (NSSC) that will provide JSU with training and tools to become a major business contractor. The goal of the collaboration is to position JSU as a competitive prime contractor in the future.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Jackson State University associate provost Dr. Joseph A. Whittaker to serve on his Governor's Military Defense Initiative Task Force that aims to encourage defense-related companies to locate in the state. The task force has a year to develop its master plan and present to the governor its strategies for bringing more military contractors into the state and attracting more employees.
The Mississippi Development Authority regularly asks Mississippi State University to host companies that are considering locating in the state. These visits typically include meetings with the MSU Career Center to discuss recruiting their graduates, visits to various research centers, and meetings with deans from colleges such as Business or the Bagley College of Engineering. This approach has helped convince companies like PACCAR, Yokohama, Nissan, and General Electric to locate manufacturing facilities in Mississippi.
Mississippi State University's National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) has worked with several state agencies, including the Mississippi Development Authority, the Department of Education, the Mississippi Community College Board, State Institutions of Higher Learning, and the Department of Employment Security to develop a database and a holistic approach to identify Mississippi's current workforce as well as our pipeline into the workforce. This approach, one of the most comprehensive in the nation, serves to match employers and employees, and also provides current labor market statistics to industries wanting to know more about Mississippi's workforce.
Mississippi State's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems Extension Center in Canton works with the Mississippi Development Authority and local economic developers to provide services such as professional development, site master planning, simulation and decision modeling, and logistics support to assist industry. This is funded by both a state appropriation and several competitive grants that have been awarded to the center.
Based on information verified by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Mississippi State University's work with Mississippi industries has resulted in an economic impact of $5.96 billion and over 4,600 jobs either created or retained. Companies that have been assisted at this center include Nissan, Viking Range, Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding, Milwaukee Tools, Baxter Medical, and Caterpillar.
The Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi works with Toyota in curriculum review and development, professional development of students, and career placement initiatives. Toyota's upper management serves on the CME advisory board to ensure Toyota's expertise and experience in the development of people is reflected in how the CME attracts, engages, and educates students. Toyota personnel visit the CME every year to engage faculty, staff, and students.
CME student teams have received academic credit by solving real-world manufacturing problems and working alongside employees. The CME students learned from working in a factory environment and provided fresh perspective to real manufacturing problems for several Mississippi businesses, including Parker Hannafin in Batesville; Parker Racor in Holly Springs; Borg Warner in Water Valley; GE Aviation in Batesville; and ABB in Senatobia.
The University of Southern Mississippi has a longstanding relationship with Area Development Partnership, and like its partner, the University has been in the business of enriching the lives of those it serves, not only for its students, but also for its faculty and staff, Hattiesburg and coastal communities, the state of Mississippi, and beyond.
USM's Ocean Enterprise strongly supports Governor Phil Bryant's “Blue Economy” initiatives – or economic activity in the maritime sector. Governor Phil Bryant signed an executive order creating an Ocean Task Force, which is chaired by Dr. Monty Graham, Director of USM's School of Ocean Science and Engineering. The task force is charged with creating an environment for attracting the unmanned maritime systems industry to the state of Mississippi.
Economic development announcements often focus on the “big fish” that will bring hundreds of jobs to Mississippi, but entrepreneurs play a vital role in Mississippi's economy. Mississippi Public Universities support entrepreneurs in a variety of ways.
The University of Mississippi recently hosted the Spark Series, a collaborative effort of the University of Mississippi School of Law, Insight Park, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, Mississippi Law Research Institute, McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Mid-South Intellectual Property Institute and Oxford Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation.
The goal of the series is to provide entrepreneurs from the university and community with an overview of key resources that are available on campus. Each session is focused on a specific topic, such as critical issues to consider before forming an LLC and critical issues to consider before posting online content, that is important to the entrepreneurs' efforts and success.
Research also plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining businesses in Mississippi.
Steel Dynamics, a large rolled steel manufacturer in the state, works very closely with Mississippi State University's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems to develop and test new alloys for the steel industry. Steel Dynamics funded the establishment of a “mini mill” at MSU that can be used to develop and pour new alloys for testing prior to bringing them into the production environment.
The University of Mississippi signed an agreement with Globalstar, a multi-billion dollar satellite communications company, to establish a second-generation ground station on our Oxford campus — Ole Miss will have the only ground station communicating with Big LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellites, providing Mobile Satellite Services over handheld devices. This partnership will provide research and educational opportunities and help us build an industry cluster in satellite communications in our area.
The University of Mississippi and Jackson State University joined a consortium of academic institutions to create a technology transfer accelerator hub for biomedical technologies in the Southeastern United States. This new grant mechanism will be one of four NIGMS-funded hubs to help IDeA states accelerate early-stage biomedical technology from the laboratory to market. The goal is to enhance the capacity to move scientific results from academic institutions into commercialization and to promote a sustainable culture of biomedical entrepreneurship within IDeA states.
At the University of Mississippi Medical Center, a Translational Research Center at UMMC was designed for collaborative work ranging from basic science to business partnerships. The TRC will help researchers improve the health of individual Mississippians and will have tremendous long-term impact on our economy by growing our biomedical industry base.
The University of Southern Mississippi has solidified its position as the leader in marine education and research along the Gulf of Mexico through numerous projects and partnerships, which include:
- A partnership with the Port of Gulfport to house the new Ocean Engineering program in the new Marine Research Center;
- Construction of the new Marine Education Center at its Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs; and
- Producing the first class of graduates in the nation to earn a certification of Unmanned Maritime Systems.
As a technology incubator for Boeing, USM entered into a master agreement with the aviation giant to accelerate research and development of next-generation materials, including polymers and polymer matrix composites.