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Stennis Institute creates Web-based monthly news program

‘Mississippi Economic Report’ just a click away

The Stennis Institute has kicked off a business news program that promises to accommodate even the busiest exec.

Because the “Mississippi Economic Report” is a monthly Web-based show, it can be seen anytime at home or in the office, even months after the show has been posted. The show can be found on the Web site of Mississippi State University’s John C. Stennis Institute of Government at www.sig.msstate.edu.

The “Mississippi Economic Report” is a forum for the discussion of Mississippi’s economy and various economic development issues. The show is hosted by Phil Hardwick, an economic development specialist and author of several books. His first guest in March was State Treasurer Marshall Bennett who discussed the state of the state’s economy. His second guests were Joe D. Jones, publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal, and John Poretto of the Associated Press.

Target guests are leaders whose decisions make an impact on Mississippi’s business climate, and according to Hardwick, there is no shortage of people to interview. In the near future, Hardwick hopes to host Mississippi Economic Council head Blake Wilson and Barbara Travis, executive director of the Mississippi World Trade Center. He would also like to do a segment with House Speaker Tim Ford and Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck to discuss how the legislative process works.

“Because it is archived, we want to do things that have a long shelf life so you can go online and look it up and still find it relevant,” said Hardwick. “We wouldn’t do something like tort reform because it’s out of date when the session is over with.”

With more and more classrooms hooked up to the Internet, Hardwick would like to see the show become a tool for students to learn about state government, journalism, culture and other topics.

The “Mississippi Economic Report” was created by Phillip Pierce, Stennis Institute coordinator of research and development. Pierce runs the Stennis Capitol Press Lunch, which is usually held twice a month in Jackson for the press and others interested in hearing speakers like Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, Secretary of State Dr. Eric Clark and Dr. Ed Thompson, chief health officer with state Department of Health.

The lunch gives business and political leaders a stage to make the press more aware of issues so they can write better-informed stories, said Pierce. He noticed, however, that the lunches were geared more toward politics, and that a wider variety of topics affecting business needed coverage, such as the state’s film industry, the opera or symphony, or the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Because Mississippi State University was the first in the state to establish a Web site in 1993, it seemed only fitting to host a Web-based program to cover these issues, he said.

“The Internet is so prevalent nowadays, and this is a good way to bring some good issues to people,” said Pierce.

Pierce would like to host Chief Phillip Martin of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and representatives from the Appalachian Regional Commission in upcoming segments. In the near future he hopes to bring the mayors of Vicksburg and Meridian on the show together to talk about the I-20 corridor.

“We hope to be very diverse not only in our topics, but also geographically,” said Pierce.

At press time, the show’s third guest had not been confirmed. After the show is established, plans are to post new shows at a specific time each month. For those lacking the software to view the program, the show can also be heard by clicking a button for audio only. For more information, contact Pierce at (601) 948-6253.

Contact MBJ Staff Writer Kelly Russell Ingebretsen at kelly@msbusiness.com.

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