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More than 300 expected for Nov. 2 meeting

Technology on the agenda for Jackson conference

More than 300 people are expected to attend the Governor’s Conference on High Technology Nov. 2 at the Clarion Hotel in Jackson.

The joint meeting of the Mississippi Economic Council and the Communications/Information Tech- nology Organization of Mississippi, was scheduled in the fall to

coincide with legislators’ preparation for the upcoming legislative session.

“We want input on how Mississippi can move forward through new technology – a strong focus of the new economic development plan that passed in August,” said

Blake Wilson, MEC president.

The conference, scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include workshops on starting high-tech ventures, using technology in the workplace, capitalizing on the future of

technology and building team support. The registration deadline is Oct. 18.

“The focus of the conference is not about just reaching people from high-tech companies, because all companies today are high-tech,” said. “We’ve gotten so focused

on computer circuit boards that we think nothing else is high tech. That’s not the case. This is more than just cables and wires. We’re in a different ballgame now.

“The focus of the conference will be about how to use technology to improve our ability in Mississippi to attract high-tech industries, and how to use technology in

business to become more productive, whether it’s a lumber mill in Waynesboro, a rice plant in Greenville, the Kimberly-Clark plant in Corinth or Ingalls Shipbuilding in

Pascagoula – all are high-tech companies.”

Hu Meena, president of Cellular South, one of the conference panelists, said the state needs to educate technology companies looking for a home on the information

transport system to and through Mississippi, similar to what might be done in a state trying to attract manufacturing and distribution by touting its interstate and

four-lane highway infrastructure.

“Mississippi has world class telecommunications networks – wired and wireless,” Meena said. “There are more miles of fiber optic cable running through our state

than there are miles of four-lane highways. Fiber provides the bandwidth necessary to receive and send huge amounts of data that technology and technology-reliant

businesses need to thrive.”

Bill Stark, vice president of sales and marketing of Atlanta-based Mindseek, said Mississippi might want to consider what Kentucky has done to leverage learning

technologies by improving skills for state government workers and the general population, providing information to media outlets, offering parental training and

providing the ability to take classes from libraries – all from one central public Web portal.

“The folks from Kentucky…have a very exhaustive public Web-based education portal, which they claim is the largest of its kind in the world,” Stark said. “We are

talking to them about how to integrate our Mindseek application into new state employee training orientation so that workers are better informed more quickly, have a

way to index and make available for search all relevant archived footage of the governor for press, and to train state workers on new systems to make them more

productive sooner – essentially a way to leverage technology to re-invent the delivery of knowledge to state workers to help them get more work done faster and a

way to better provide access to important video archives.”

Clayton C. Henkel, chief information officer of ExplorNet, hopes the conference will provide an opportunity to build new partnerships between the Mississippi

Economic Council, business and industry, the Legislature and the governor’s office.

“ExplorNet empowers rural communities through a series of interrelated programs which enhance technology and technology integration in our schools,” Henkel said.

“Our computer recycling program teaches students hands-on computer engineering skills. Students gain high-tech job skills and train for A+ Certification, while

schools are able to leverage their technology dollars.”

As high-tech firms discuss the shortage of IT workers, rural residents can fill these jobs if they have a solid understanding of how technology works, Henkel said.

“We’re hoping the meeting will give us a chance to further discuss how our program is giving life-long learners the skills they need to be more marketable,” she said.

Mark Mumley, director of marketing for 121 Micro in Madison, an information technology company, said it’s time for Mississippi to make a serious investment.

“To see further into Mississippi’s technology future, we have to make a serious investment now – right now,” Mumley said. “Applying information intelligently to

problem solving is more possible and more important today than ever before. To apply and help drive this knowledge, the IT industry needs over 400,000 highly

trained and qualified people to continue its upward trend today.”

Additional information about the conference is online at www.mec.ms.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lynne@thewritingdesk.com or (601) 853-3967.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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