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. One way communities are working with these large defense contractors is exemplified in Vicksburg, Mississippi, by their efforts to work with the US Army Research & Development Center (ERDC). Developers in the city are gathering funds to create a technology transfer, business incubator facility to leverage the knowledge-base at ERDC to promote development in the region. As of October, an additional $545,000.00 was granted to the project by the Delta Regional Authority, showing continuing progress for the endeavor.


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 Communitieswill 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. 


Gap Funding 

The Mississippi Defense Diversification Initiative is introducing our Gap fund process for Office of Economic Adjustment technologies or innovations projects. The purpose of the OEA Gap Fund is to further the commercial potential of early-stage "dual-use" (military/civilian) technologies or innovations. Those technologies/innovations that are submitted to the USM Office of Technology Development would be eligible for review for funding. To learn more about the 6-step proposal process from beginning to end, the definitions of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL's), and the deliverables with submission dates that are required by OEA and the Office of Technology Development, click here. This document will also be posted to our MDDI website under the finance page once it is completed. 



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 


**To stay up to date with news, events, and other updates related to MDDI and the defense industry in the state of Mississippi, visit our website, like and follow the grant on Facebook, and connect with its page on LinkedIn. 

MDDI: http://msdefense.net/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msdefense.net/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/msdefense/




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Southern Miss Receives $3 Million Federal Grant to Develop Pilot Programs for Technology Transfer, Economic Development


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Southern Miss to Offer Course Involving National Security Issues