Leaders see skilled workforce as greatest need for area progress 11/18/2014

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Leaders see skilled workforce as greatest need for area progress

By Rupert Howell
The majority of attendees of Mississippi Economic Council’s Regional Roundup last Friday at Batesville Civic Center believed an improved workforce was the best way to strengthen economic competitiveness in the region.

Lack of skilled workforce and negative perception of the state’s image were considered the biggest roadblocks for economic competitiveness.

The group of approximately 60 MEC members and local officials were surveyed during Friday’s regional meeting with 53 percent seeing the greatest opportunity in advanced manufacturing.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Quite naturally, highways and bridges is the top infrastructure priority with almost 91 percent putting it above waterways, airports, rail and intermodal transportation. The fact that the Highway 6 West Corridor between Batesville and Clarksdale has virtually been shut down to truck traffic constantly resurfaced during the meeting.

But new construction of roadways garnered only five percent of the vote compared to bridge replacement and repair, maintenance of existing roadways and expansion/widening of existing roads, which together accounted for the other 95 percent of the vote.

Education, 34 percent, and workforce development, 27 percent, were cited as the favored choices on most important thing for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity. Those choices were followed by targeted industry recruitment, 21 percent, economic incentives, 9 percent, transportation-five percent, and healthcare-four percent.

Eighty-nine percent agreed that  career and technical curriculum for high school students was very important.

Sixty percent of those attending thought the region was somewhat competitive economically and 25 percent thought the region was not so competitive and less than two percent thought the region, ‘not competitive at all.’

That was against 14 percent who considered the region “very competitive.”

Mississippi Economic Council serves as Mississippi’s Chamber of Commerce dealing with issues relating to businesses through advocacy, research, resources and leadership.  MEC has approximately 8,000 members from 1,100 firms throughout Mississippi.