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Participants will discuss business/industry and education working for economic development

Cooperation focus of PRCC meeting March 28

HATTIESBURG — Pearl River Community College (PRCC), along with entities such as the Area Development Partnership, Mississippi Department of Education, U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education, is sponsoring a summit to discuss the importance of cooperative efforts between business and industry and education.

The conference will be held March 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg.

President of PRCC Dr. William Lewis said, “The conceptual basis for the conference is that business and industry and education need to work more closely to produce the economic development results needed by our state. Through the development of an understanding of the needs that business has from educational entities and the needs these entities have from business, we can work more closely to achieve the desired economic development results.”

A steering committee made up of leaders from economic development entities in the PRCC six-county region, school superintendents, as well as business leadership came together to develop a list of approximately 500 invited participants primarily from PRCC’s district.

The participants include leaders in business and industry and education, elected officials, persons from government agencies, presidents of school boards, coordinators from vocational-technical programs, workforce development representatives from the other community college districts and outstanding state leaders.

“This concept is a regional approach,” Lewis explained. “The six-county PRCC District is one of the primary areas of economic growth in our state. We hope to work together to improve the quality of life for the residents of this region through the outcomes of the conference.”

The program agenda is made up of speakers who are leaders in business and economic development from throughout the nation.

President and CEO of the International Center for Leadership Dr. Willard Baggett will begin the conference.

Speakers such as Nancy Hawkins of the U.S. Department of Labor will address the state of the world, nation and our state as far as trends and challenges for the workplace in the 21st century will follow him. The morning session will end with a forum lead by representatives from the Public Forum Institute of Washington, D.C. Lunch will be served from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The afternoon session will include speakers from other states that will outline the successful initiatives from their states. Participants in this session include Rich Farrell of Oklahoma, Training Coordinator with Charles Machine Works Inc., a top 100 international company; Michael Carey, executive dean of continuing education at the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland; former Boeing CEO and recent Commissioner of Employment for the State of Washington Carver Gayton will address workforce development; Dan Hull, president and CEO for the Center for Occupational Research and Development; and Arnold Packer, executive director of SCANS 2000.

SCANS was first issued in the late 1980s and was the first major report that was issued to insure that workers functioned efficiently in the workplace by assigning skills.

The SCANS center is located at Johns Hopkins University and is in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor. Hull will address the new research that has come out of the SCANS 2000 report and present strategies for applying that research.

The remainder of the afternoon session will include small-group planning sessions that will also be moderated by the Public Forum Institute. The outcomes will be reported to the larger group and will be ranked by that group through electronic voting according to their assessed effectiveness and importance.

Daggett will close the conference.

Each participant will receive a list of the forum results and also the results from their small-group planning sessions.

Further meetings will be conducted to produce plans of action for putting the recommendations into practice in the counties represented.

“This will not be the end of these ideas,” said Lewis. “The steering committee will come back and break down how these recommendations can be translated to each county and then smaller summits will take place to discuss how to put them into action.”

So far the response to the summit has been very good, according to Lewis.

“We have a high-quality program for the conference and we feel that it has a great deal of potential,” Lewis said.

Contact MBJ contributing writer at Mary Ellen Powell at mbj@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

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