The Mississippi Economic Development Council kicks off their winter conference today through Friday at the Hilton Hotel on County Line Road in Jackson.
“Driving Tomorrow’s Development” will bring together economic developers from across Mississippi to discuss ways to create jobs and grow their communities.
“Our mission is simple,” MEDC president Arnie Williams told the MBJ. “We want to serve as the voice of economic and community developers and chambers of commerce throughout this state. Our best resources are our people.”
Williams is the economic development director for Mississippi Power Co. and says that the goal of the conference is to insure that economic developers are retrained and retooled to understand leading issues for 2013 like healthcare and energy.
Referring to them as the “worker bees,” Williams said economic and community developers need to know how the healthcare and energy sectors can be economic drivers and how to have conversations with companies from other states or countries to sell them on advantages in their region.
“If we miss this- in terms of understanding the drivers as it relates to healthcare, energy and workforce development- you can shut down the whole county,” Williams said. Current trends in workforce training and reshoring will also be discussed.
Kicking off the event today is a legislative breakfast featuring guest speaker Frank Wilem. Wilem grew his Long Beach-based company Triton Systems Inc. into the largest ATM manufacturer in the country and is currently an author and partner in a successful multimedia outdoor company. Division directors from the Mississippi Development Authority will talk this afternoon about the role state agencies are playing in community development.
Thursday’s sessions will include a public education panel moderated by MSU Stennis Institute capacity coordinator Phil Hardwick and a talk on the importance of manufacturing by Texas A&M University professor F. Barry Lawrence. Afternoon forums on the economic impact of healthcare and energy will also be held.
Friday morning talks will also be given by Mississippi Manufacturers Association director Jay Moon and Mississippi Development Authority director Brent Christensen.
The MEDC summer conference is scheduled for June 26-28 in Biloxi.