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3/12/2015 - Jackson, Miss.

Students from Mississippi Public Universities had the opportunity to showcase their ideas, creativity and ingenuity as they competed in the inaugural Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge, which was held today at the State Capitol in Jackson. The teams presented solutions to some of Mississippi’s most pressing problems and outlined ideas to help reach the goals established by Blueprint Mississippi.

Mississippi Valley State University received the first place award, with the University of Mississippi receiving the second place award and The University of Southern Mississippi receiving the third place award.

The Mississippi Valley State University team developed a plan to create within the local Walmart an academic support center, The Learning Center at Walmart. MVSU students would serve as volunteers who would assist third through eighth grade students with homework, time management, note-taking and test-taking.

The University of Mississippi team focused on establishing in-house pharmacies in the health clinics in rural areas of Mississippi. These rural health clinic in-house pharmacies would benefit medically underserved patients and significantly decrease primary medication non-adherence, which currently has rates as high as 30 percent.

The University of Southern Mississippi team concentrated on promoting and supplementing film industry-specific workforce training programs and providing grants and low interest loans for development of film industry-related infrastructure. This would create jobs in the film industry and bring additional revenue into the state.

The teams competing in the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge statewide competition included:
  • 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
  • Rural Health Clinic In-House Pharmacy, University of Mississippi
  • Team Eagles, University of Southern Mississippi

Open to any public university student, the challenge required students to work in teams of three to six members with at least one faculty adviser. The teams were encouraged to 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.

Each team developed a business plan, outlined their concept in a tabletop display and presented their ideas to the judges in a brief oral presentation at the State Capitol.

Five business leaders served as the judges for the event. The judges included:
  • 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 were 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 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.

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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