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3/10/2015 - Jackson, Miss.

Students from Mississippi Public Universities will have the opportunity to showcase their ideas, creativity and ingenuity as they present solutions to some of Mississippi's most pressing problems and help reach the goals established by Blueprint Mississippi as they compete in the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge. The statewide competition will be held Thursday, March 12 at the State Capitol in Jackson.

Open to any public university student, the challenge requires students to work in teams of six with at least one faculty adviser. The teams may also enlist the assistance of professionals or alumni that have expertise in the topic the team plans to address or in building a business plan. Student teams from each university competed in competitions held on campus last fall, with the winning team from each campus advancing to the state competition.

The teams competing in the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge statewide competition include:
  • It Still Takes a Village, Alcorn State University
  • The Creative Activists, Delta State University
  • Mississippi Urban Organics, Jackson State University
  • Mississippi Integrated Medical Solutions, Mississippi State University
  • Intelehealth, Mississippi University for Women
  • Better Together, Mississippi Valley State University
  • UM School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi
  • Team Eagles, University of Southern Mississippi

Each team has developed a business plan and will outline their concept in a tabletop display and present their ideas to the judges in a brief oral presentation at the State Capitol on Thursday. The displays will be available for viewing in the Rotunda, beginning at 9:00 a.m. The presentations will be held in Room 216 at the State Capitol, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The awards presentation will be held in Room 216, beginning at 11:00 a.m.

Five business leaders will serve as the judges for the event. The judges include:
  • Mary Martha Henson, Executive Director and COO, Mississippi Economic Development Council
  • Christi Kilroy, Vice President, Policy, Research and Member Engagement, Mississippi Economic Council
  • Patricia McMahon, Vice President and Government Loans Manager, Trustmark National Bank
  • Cathy Northington, Vice President, Programs and Administration, Mississippi Economic Council
  • Vickie Powell, Senior Vice President, Foundations, Mississippi Economic Council

Students are asked to focus their efforts in support of one of the nine goals identified by Blueprint Mississippi. In 2012, Blueprint Mississippi, an independent cooperative of organizations and leaders conducted an objective review of Mississippi's economic opportunities and recommended actions for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity, identified nine goals to enable a more prosperous, vibrant, and resilient Mississippi, built upon a foundation of economic opportunity for all its citizens.

The nine Blueprint Mississippi goals include:
  1. Increase the Educational Achievement of Mississippians
  2. Cultivate a More Robust Workforce in Mississippi
  3. Strengthen and Expand Mississippi's Economy
  4. Promote Health Care as an Economic Driver
  5. Support Mississippi's Creative Economy
  6. Continually Develop the Infrastructure for a Competitive Economy
  7. Increase Availability of Financial Capital
  8. Cultivate Diversity, Community Cooperation and Racial Reconciliation
  9. Improve Communication and Coordination Among Public, Private and Non-profit Leaders

The Blueprint Challenge was announced by Governor Phil Bryant, Mississippi Economic Council President and CEO Blake A. Wilson and Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Hank M. Bounds at a press conference held last August in Jackson. The goals of the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge are to encourage students to develop ideas for solving Mississippi's most pressing problems, while learning important lessons about planning, teamwork and presenting ideas.

The elements of the written plan include an executive summary, a description of the social problem addressed, a summary of the Blueprint Mississippi goal the business will help reach, a description of the business solution, a market analysis, a financial analysis and the social impact the business will have. The table display and presentation will offer additional information on the plan, how it will be executed and the social results it will have.

The Blueprint Social Business Challenge encourages students to work in teams representing a cross-section of the campus and the programs offered at the universities. Through this experience, students will learn how to set and achieve goals, how to work as a team to achieve a common goal and how to use their skills and talents to help others. These skills will translate well as students graduate and enter the professional world as the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

The term Social Business was defined by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus and is described in his books Creating a World Without Poverty-Social Business and the Future of Capitalism and Building Social Business-The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity's Most Pressing Needs.

More information is available on Mississippi Public Universities' website and will be posted on Twitter @MSPublicUniv.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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