Mississippi Defense Diversification Initiative

 Economic diversification in Mississippi to reduce the state’s dependence on federal defense spending

The University of Southern Mississippi is participating in a national Department of Defense project focused on communities that rely heavily on defense spending and is leading a team that is developing a pilot economic diversification program in Mississippi which will ultimately be used at the national level.







  • Build Capacity

  • Train-the-trainer

  • Develop networks

  • Support BRE Programs

  • Connect to national platform

The goal is to explore and implement options for economic diversification in Mississippi to reduce the state's dependence on federal spending by identifying new revenue streams for Mississippi companies and opportunities for its entrepreneurs and researchers/scientists.


Program Participants

The Mississippi Defense Diversification Initiative is a broad, regional effort. Working in collaboration with MEDC, local EDOs, and SBDCs, USM is identifying small and medium businesses that have been awarded government contracts, have revenue over $1 million, have been in business for 2+ years and who are working in areas of innovative technology that might lead to diversification opportunities. Information has been gathered from public sources and the project is now at a point to engage companies to obtain additional information that will help shape the project.


In addition to SMBs, USM will also work with largest defense contractors in the state, the U.S. Army Research & Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, the Naval Research Lab - Stennis Space Center (NRL-SCC) and a group of tech entrepreneurs who are poised for growth.


A truly regional approach to economic diversification will strengthen communities and lead to sustainable change and positive outcomes for the state. The implementation of the pilot project will begin in February 2017 and continue through the fall of 2018.


Associated Academic Programs

In order to develop the defense diversification ecosystem, the Masters of Science of Economic Development program will begin working with the defense industry to enhance economic development.


Starting in Summer 2017, a new course, ED 761: Economic Development for Defense Communities will be offered that is designed for economic developers whose economy is defense dependent and military personnel involved with civilian affairs, logistics, and procurement. The course makes extensive use of data analytics to understand the defense industry and how to diversify local economies.


For More Information Contact:

Andy Kilgore LTC(R), MBA

Program Director,

Mississippi Defense Diversification Initiative

Trent Lott National Center

The University of Southern Mississippi

Cell: 954-494-6650

Office: 601-266-5275

Email: Andy.Kilgore@usm.edu 



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