On Nov. 13, Dr. Angeline “Angie” Dvorak, former president of Ashland Community College in Kentucky, and former member of a six-person commission that developed the state’s first “smart” park in eastern Kentucky, will begin her job as president and CEO of Mississippi Tech-nology Inc. (MTI), which promotes and coordinates science and technology-based economic development, and the Institute for Technology Development (ITD), which focuses on technology commercialization.
Prior to presiding over Ashland Community College, Dvorak was involved in advanced computer and telecommunications technologies, first as a developer and later as a technology facilitator and manager in Alabama, Florida, Michigan and Tennessee. Last week, the Mississippi Business Journal caught up with Dvorak, en route to Mississippi, to ask about her plans for bringing Mississippi to the forefront of technology development in the U.S.
Mississippi Business Journal: What attributes will you bring from your Kentucky experience?
Dr. Angeline Dvorak: While I bring all of my career experiences to Mississippi as an educator, technology developer, funding specialist, CEO and economic developer, I will focus on connecting resources and opportunities with an aggressive but strategically designed approach. My Kentucky experience strengthened my understanding of the power of partnership efforts and linking resources and opportunities to promote the comprehensive well being of a state.
MBJ: What are your priorities for achieving the goals you have set for MTI and the state?
AD: The goals for MTI were originally set in the Mississippi Science and Technology Plan and embraced by MTI’s board of directors. I will work to promote those goals as well as to identify new goals that address MTI’s mission.
Specifically, my goals as president/CEO of Mississippi Technology Inc. will include promoting science and technology-based economic development opportunities; creating more and better science and technology-related jobs; developing Mississippi’s technology infrastructure; building relational clusters that draw industries and their companion enterprises together to maximize productivity and profitability; implementing continuous strategic planning; and establishing solid relationships and partnerships that focus on developing the state of Mississippi (and) growing Mississippi Technology Inc.
MBJ: How do you see MTI’s role in workforce training?
AD: MTI can certainly play a strategic role as a catalyst in workforce development, specifically by helping to define needs, identify and connect resources, encourage workforce training providers to partner with organizations and entities that can promote and accelerate the process and emphasize the need for multiple skills level and multiple entry point workforce training.
MBJ: What do you see as realistic goals?
AD: My vision is that by 2020, Mississippi will be readily identified as a mega-progressive state that is extremely conducive to science and technology-based economic development and technology commercialization and known for its wealth of intellectual capital. In short, Mississippi will be on the “radar screen” of everyone who is “in the know” in science and technology-related fields – academic, public or private sector.
In five to 10 years, realistically, with public and private sector support and a commitment to promote Mississippi to develop its maximum potential, I see the following as attainable accomplishments:
• Significant expansion of Mississippi’s research capacity;
• Significant expansion of Mississippi’s investment in research and development (R&D) to meet or exceed national averages;
• The creation of a number of technology incubators in Mississippi, with central Mississippi being the early target for a new incubator;
• Significant increase in external funding, including federal and private, to support R&D and start-up businesses;
• The establishment of technology parks in strategic areas throughout Mississippi;
• The targeting of five to 10 small communities to focus extensive efforts to promote technology-based economic development;
• The creation of a small business design center;
• Significant promotion of responsive workforce development training programs that are readily accessible and cost-effective;
• At least a 25% increase in the number of science and technology graduates from the state’s institutions of higher learning;
• At least a 25% increase in the number of science and technology-related program graduates and/or completers from the state’s community and junior colleges;
• At least a 25% increase in the number of science and technology graduates that remain in the state for at least five years after graduation.
MBJ: How much will you be asking for from the Legislature for 2001/2002?
AD: I have not been fully briefed on the 2001/2001 budget, (and) it would be premature for me to comment.
MBJ: Many people believe the telecommunications industry in Mississippi is somewhat fragmented. Do you have ideas to maybe increase collaboration in the way that is done in technology clusters like California’s Silicon Valley or North Carolina’s Research Triangle?
AD: Collaboration begins with building relationships, educating others on the clustering opportunities and the subsequent benefits and promoting working and productive partnerships. I am committed to stimulating these collaborative efforts with a sincere sense of urgency.
Communication, communication, communication – that is the best strategy. MTI will be consistently engaged in connecting and communicating to promote the telecommunications industry in Mississippi, and to encourage the development of effective clustering initiatives in telecommunications as well as other science and technology-based industries.
MBJ: What role will ITD play?
AD: ITD focuses on technology commercialization. It serves as a major player in not only MTI’s strategic agenda but also in the success of Mississippi as a whole in significantly escalating science and technology-based economic development and overall commercial activity. As a private-sector organization, ITD will strategically positioned to advance technology commercialization as it serves as a partner with MTI. ITD is absolutely critical to our reaching those five- and 10-year goals, and more importantly, in attaining this challenging but doable goal for 2020.
MBJ: The Stennis Space Center is charged with, among other things, the transfer and commercialization of NASA-developed technologies to the private sector. Is this resource in your plans for economic development?
AD: The Stennis Space Center is an extremely valuable partner. The NASA initiatives to promote technology transfer and commercialization are extremely useful in building partnerships with other science and technology-based initiatives throughout the United States and the world. I hope to maximize this resource in Mississippi for the benefit of the state’s own science and technology-based economic development as well as its resources for promoting and expanding technology transfer and commercialization. It expands our funding base opportunities many folds.
MBJ: What are your thoughts on taking the reins as president/CEO of MTI and ITD?
AD: I am extremely excited. I truly believe that the Deep South, especially Mississippi, is the next great frontier where our investment in intellectual capital and science and technology-based initiatives can create opportunities and prosperity for the people of Mississippi far beyond our greatest expectations. I embrace the challenges and am totally committed to “seizing the moment and the nanoseconds” before us.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at email@example.com o
r (601) 85