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MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES HELP TO REBUILD ECONOMY AS STATE RECOVERS FROM IMPACT OF COVID-19

10/2/2020 - Jackson, Miss.

Mississippi Public Universities drive the state's economy by preparing the workforce for Mississippi's future, employing thousands of Mississippians as faculty and staff, and supporting many Mississippi businesses through purchasing, special events, including athletics, and students patronizing businesses in proximity of the campuses. This role is even more important as the state begins to recover from the closure of businesses due to COVID-19.

The state of living and doing business has been referred to as the "new normal" and many experts advise that these changes are not temporary, but a shift that will remain in place permanently. The expertise housed within the universities can help guide businesses and organizations as they prepare to adapt to doing business in new ways.

Jackson State University’s College of Health Sciences, along with the School of Public Health, is partnering with the CDC to develop a yearlong marketing campaign aimed at reducing and preventing the disproportionate rate of COVID-19 transmissions among African Americans ages 18-29. The primary areas targeted are Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties. Additionally, JSU’s Division of Research and Economic Development has unveiled a program called EnRICH (Engaging Research and Innovators for Commercialization at HBCUs). EnRICH aims to impact equity, diversity and inclusion in innovations and train faculty and students to critically evaluate the commercial potential of new health care innovations. Also, it will train them to conduct market assessments, help support intellectual property protection, and teach them about the commercialization development process in an established startup accelerator program.

Mississippi State University and its College of Business have partnered with the Mississippi Small Business Development Center to produce and provide a nine-part video series aimed at helping family-owned companies and establishments navigate the pandemic and economic disruption. Covering a wide variety of COVID-19 topics, the videos address the survival, growth and sustainability of these businesses and the special needs of owners in adapting to the "new normal". The videos highlight and explain human resource modifications, business model adjustments, market research to better serve customers, new pricing strategy considerations, and how to reach new types of customers.

To support local nonprofits during COVID-19, the University of Mississippi created the Community-University Partnership Series for campus and community leaders to explore partnerships in supply drives and fundraisers, meeting technology needs, and providing volunteer and internship opportunities. The university's Office of Community Engagement is doing this in partnership with UM Economic Development, the LOU Chamber of Commerce, Lafayette Oxford Foundation for Tomorrow, United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County, Mississippi Alliance for Nonprofits and Philanthropy, and Volunteer Mississippi. UM's Career Center continues providing assistance to find gainful employment including hosting training programs and a virtual All Majors Career Expo. Additionally, the Mississippi Small Business Development Center, whose state office is housed at UM, is providing counseling about federal and state business stimulus programs and assisting entrepreneurs obtain loans and other funding.

This summer, The University of Southern Mississippi's National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) published the first version of "COVID-19 Considerations for Sport and Entertainment Venues and Events." Composed by a select group of industry practitioners on the NCS4's COVID-19 Task Force, the guide is designed to aid professionals in their decision-making regarding event planning, event operations and other business operations based on federal, state and local municipal requirements. The considerations seek to highlight areas of concern that may need further study or demand alterations to chart a path forward for returning to events.

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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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