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5/11/2018 - Jackson, Miss.

National Economic Development Week presents a good time to recognize the ongoing efforts of Mississippi Public Universities to support economic development initiatives across the state. National Economic Development Week was created and is coordinated by The International Economic Development Council, the largest professional membership organization for economic developers. It is being held during the week of the organization's 92nd anniversary as the largest professional membership organization for economic developers.

"Our universities serve as strategic partners in economic development efforts," said Dr. Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. "We work closely with local and state economic developers to convey the capabilities of the university system to the businesses they are working to attract. From offering the academic programs that will provide the graduates they need to conducting research that will provide the insights they need, our university system plays a key role in ensuring that Mississippi provides businesses an excellent environment in which to thrive."

The university system supports economic development on several fronts, including:

  • The Mississippi Business Engagement Network (MBEN) is an initiative to connect business and industry to the wealth of university assets housed within Mississippi Public Universities. The Mississippi Business Engagement Network is designed to connect business leaders and economic developers with all of the resources, experts and research capabilities within Mississippi Public Universities and help develop, grow and sustain collaborative relationships between the business community and the university system. The initiative has a website,, to facilitate these connections.
  • Alcorn State University's Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center specializes in policy research impacting socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Through collaboration with universities and organizations inside and outside the land grant community, Alcorn State University leverages Alcorn State University employees' expertise and increases personnel capacity with contractual partnerships with other universities and agencies.
  • Established in 1994, Delta State University's Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) provides a platform for the university to address major development issues facing the region. The CCED builds and empowers relationships that strengthen the Delta communities. Their highly-credentialed teams of academic personnel and successful practitioner assist with the resource management, evaluation and support of grants and contracted services.
  • Designated the state's urban university, Jackson State University houses the Center for University-Based Development, a collaborative community development partnership to revitalize the social, economic, and physical conditions of the surrounding neighborhoods in partnership with residents, business owners, and faith-based and community organizations.
  • Mississippi State University researchers are partnering with utility leader Entergy Corporation to develop software programs that make the nation's electric grid more reliable and help determine a site's ability to power current and future economic development needs.
  • Mississippi University for Women contributes to the creative economy through arts outreach, a particular strength of the university. The arts contribute significantly to the quality of life for the region and The W is a vital part of the offerings in the arts.
  • The Delta Research and Cultural Institute (DRCI) at Mississippi Valley State University engages faculty, students and community leaders in action-focused research and reflection to explore concerns confronting Delta residents. Their work informs public discourse, leading to progressive public policies that promote sustained political, social and economic development.
  • In April, the University of Mississippi's Insight Park and the Oxford Conference Center hosted the fourth Annual Rural Entrepreneurship Forum, which brought together over 100 business owners, economic development professionals, students, and universities and community members together to discuss economic development opportunities in Mississippi. Sponsored by UM's McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, the event is part of the Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative. The annual forum has been in Clarksdale (2015), Tupelo (2016), Greenwood (2017), and Oxford (2018). Two of the speakers at the forum in Oxford are featured in the Mississippi Business Journal, Mississippi's Top Entrepreneurs in 2018 - Karen Kurr and Janet McCarty.
  • The University of Southern Mississippi was the first in the nation to offer a masters level program in economic development. Since 1979, Southern Miss has continuously produced quality economic development professionals. Through its Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship, Southern Miss serves public entities, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals by providing economic development training and research and offering expertise in strategic planning, leadership development, and community analysis.

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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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