Business leaders’ Blueprint 2011 puts priority on Creative Economy effort

Mississippi’s strengthened economic development position has equipped it to become a player in the “Creative Economy,” a pursuit that involves fostering the creation and expansion of knowledge-based business that range from high-tech to film making to capitalizing on the Magnolia State’s cultural and historic heritage.

So says the Blueprint Mississippi 2011 in a list of recommendations and goals issued this week.

The $1.25 million Blueprint 2011, an update of one prepared in 2004 to help new Gov. Haley Barbour set economic development policies and strategies, focuses on three areas: education, economic development, business climate and image.

Mississippi Economic Council and the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development teamed with Momentum to update the existing plan and explore new areas of opportunity.

Blueprint Chairman Hank Bounds, a career educator and the state’s commissioner of Higher Education, said the priority given Creative Industry as an emerging economic engine for the state reflects “recognition by Mississippians that we can capitalize on our rich cultural heritage and entrepreneurial strengths of our people and monetize this strength into a growing creative economy, from film-making to tourism and from the development of homegrown high-tech firms to the smallest of businesses in communities across our great state.”

While identifying Creative Industries as a key new area of opportunity, Blueprint 2011 recommends creation of “a permanent, diverse, privately led statewide organization of leaders charged with providing market research and sustained planning for economic development in Mississippi and implementing the Blueprint Mississippi 2011 recommendations,” Blueprint organizers said in a press statement.

Here are the Blueprint’s recommendations for achieve its Creative Economy goals:

*Support the goals in the report, Mississippi’s Creative Economy, released by the Mississippi Arts Commission with the Mississippi Development Authority:

*Facilitate efforts that make communities throughout the state more creative and vibrant.

*Promote entrepreneurship and small business growth among creative firms.

*Help communities preserve and generate added value from cultural and historic heritage.

*Enhance the competitiveness of the state’s businesses and industries through increased use of art and design.

*Enhance the support and networking infrastructure for creative talent across the state.

*Build capacity to grow and retain creative talent living and working in Mississippi.

*Develop tools and strategies to support growth throughout the tourism industry.

Here are the Blueprint’s recommendations for cultivating diversity, community cooperation and racial reconciliation:

*Promote diversity in the workforce and in management in Mississippi businesses through training and by joining national and global business networks that promote the common good.

*Invest in local community building projects that promote interracial cooperation.

*Invest in youth programs that promote interracial cooperation in order to ensure future generations of leadership are mindful of diverse perspectives.

Here are the Blueprint’s recommendations for strengthening and expanding Mississippi’s economy|:

*Evaluate Mississippi’s industry sectors to determine priority sectors, and conduct comprehensive, customized cluster analyses to determine key growth opportunities for Mississippi, beginning with an assessment of the health care industry as a prototype.

*Invest in university research, development and commercialization.

*Develop state-level programs that support rural and minority entrepreneurship and strengthen local economies.

*Enhance entrepreneurship in K-20 (kindergarten through graduate studies) curricula.

*Provide a statewide or regional Web portal for easy business assistance.

*Remove tax and regulatory barriers that make Mississippi’s business climate less competitive.

*Reduce insurance burdens on Mississippi’s coastal businesses and individuals.

*Sustain successful ongoing business recruitment incentives.

*Recognize and promote opportunities that result from the growth and expansion of the technology- driven economy, engaging resources such as the Mississippi Technology Alliance to assist in focusing these efforts.

Here are the Blueprint’s recommendations for increasing the educational achievement level of Mississippians

*Improve teacher quality by increasing the Teach for America and Mississippi Teacher Corps teachers in the state, strengthening teacher requirements and considering new methods of merit-based compensation.

*Create a quality early childhood education and development system.

*Transition to all-appointed superintendents by 2015.

*Support the Education Achievement Council in its efforts to increase the number of Associate and Bachelor degree holders.

Here are the Blueprint’s recommendations for increasing availability of financial capital:

*Develop tools to stimulate private sector R&D spending.

*Create incentives and support for angel investments.

*Develop tools and incentives to increase capital to support minority and rural businesses.

*Identify, invest in and encourage the use of new technologies that enhance efficiencies and provide cost savings.

Here are the Blueprint’s recommendations for promoting health care as an economic driver:

*Target the development of the health care industry as an economic driver for Mississippi’s economy, and create a comprehensive cluster strategy around health care.

*Increase the number of active physicians in the state.

*Increase the number of health care professionals throughout Mississippi.

Driver

Here are the Blueprint’s recommendations for maintaining and upgrading Mississippi’s infrastructure:

*Retain and maintain the infrastructure to capitalize on transportation-related opportunities.

*In conjunction with state agencies, support the development of a proactive, strategic infrastructure master plan to support Mississippi’s economic development goals building on the long-range plan outlined by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and engaging a broad range of stakeholders in the process.

*Support the goals and mission of Mississippi Energy Policy Institute (MEPI).

*Support the goals and mission of Mississippi Broadband Connect Coalition (MBCC).

Here are the Blueprint’s recommendations for cultivating a more robust workforce in Mississippi:

*In conjunction with state agencies, expand and brand a strategic, long-term workforce development plan for Mississippi, building on the sound foundational strategy outlined by the State Workforce Investment Board and engaging a broad range of economic developers, resources, providers, business leaders and stakeholders in the process.

*Provide awareness and assistance for occupations and vocations important to Mississippi.

*Develop incentives to attract and retain highly educated workers, with particular emphasis on S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) backgrounds.

*Decrease the economic and societal costs associated with teenage births by lowering birthrates among females under 19 years old.

*Expand access to and utilization of health care services, and improve health awareness and education.

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