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Program gets new location, new date

New South Economic Development Course back on track

While the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina presents daunting challenges, it also creates many opportunities.

Some of those opportunities will be covered at the New South Economic Development Course, which will be held January 22-27, 2006, at the Jackson Marriott Downtown in the Capital City. Originally slated for October, the course was postponed and relocated from Hattiesburg due to Katrina.

Now in its 13th year, the course is hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). It is the only professional development course accredited by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the nation’s largest organization dedicated to economic developers and the profession. It is the equivalent of the IEDC’s Introduction to Economic Development Course, and may be considered toward the requirements for the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) exam.

The New South Economic Development Course is designed to offer the “basics” in economic development. Thus, the program is appropriate not only for full- and part-time economic developers, but also planners, real estate developers, elected officials, utility and transportation personnel as well as business leaders and volunteers interested in learning how to improve their communities and states. It also provides a professional development opportunity for those new to economic development.

The New South Economic Development Course kicks off Sunday, January 22 with registration at 3 p.m. Over the course of the event, such topics will be offered as Perspectives in Economic Development, Main Street, Community Development, Strategic Planning, Incubators in Entrepreneurship, Trends in High-Tech Business and Industrial Parks, Workforce Development from the Ground Up, Setting up for Business Retention and Expansion and Native Americans in the Global Economy, among others. The event will also include a presentation on destination development with a reception at the University Club, also in downtown Jackson.

The event wraps up Friday, January 27 with group presentations and a closing luncheon. Gov. Haley Barbour has been invited to provide the keynote event at the luncheon, slated for noon. (Lunch will be served each day except during the opening day.)

The presenters are as varied as the topics offered. Just a sampling includes Gray Swoope, deputy director and COO of the Mississippi Development Authority; Pete Walley, director of long-range planning at the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning; Dr. Mike Walters, executive director of JBHM Education Group, LLC; Ivy Owen, community developer coordinator with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians; David Rumbarger, president and CEO of the Community Development Foundation; Adele Lyons, executive director of the Gulf Coast Business Technology Center; Mitch Stennett, president of the Economic Development Authority of Jones County; Phil Hardwick, coordinator of capacity development at Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute of Government; and, J. Mac Holladay, CEO of Market Street Services Inc. The course director is Chuck Ueltschey, manager of regional and community development at Mississippi Power Company.

In order to meet the IEDC’s requirements, the New South Economic Development Course must offer 16 hours of prescribed content in such areas as strategic planning, marketing and finance. However, outside these components course organizers can present topics of regional and/or current interest. These can include environmental issues such as this year’s offerings on brownfields and call center development.

This year’s theme will focus on exposing participants to the latest strategies and approaches to collaboration in a competitive environment and the “waves of the future” in economic development. Certainly, the rebuilding in the aftermath of Katrina will be on everyone’s minds, and will be incorporated into the discussions when appropriate.

The Coast will be on the leading edge of economic and community development as it looks to recover from the storm. This will offer a unique opportunity to look at new strategies and approaches in economic development, Ueltschey said.
Despite the storm and its impact on the New South Economic Development Course, organizers are expecting a crowd.

According to Charlotte Batson, resource coordinator at USM’s Center for Community and Economic Development, at press time approximately 25-30 individuals had registered, this before a large mailout was conducted publicizing the event’s new dates and venue. (The course can only accommodate 55 participants.) Batson said in the past the course has pulled attendees from Ark-La-Miss, Tennessee, Florida, Nebraska and Texas, among others.

The registration cost is $550 until January 6, 2006, and a room block is available at the Jackson Marriott Downtown until December 23, 2005. (The group room rate is $99 per night, plus tax.) A course brochure offering registration information, course schedule, presenters and more is available online at http://www.usm.edu/ ncpc/prodev/nsed.pdf/.

For more information, contact Mary Ann Iverson at (601) 266-5682 or mary.iverson@usm.edu; or Batson at (601) 266-5515 or (601) 543-6246.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

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