MEC works on ways to create opportunities for Mississippians

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Students who graduate from high school in Mississippi continue to leave the Magnolia State to look for work.

Scott Waller, President and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council, said his organization is trying to change that. He wants to see those graduates find a career close to home.

“This is our annual tour that we do across the state. This year, the theme is ‘amplify.’ Because we are truly trying to take the time and make people aware of the things going on here in the state. One of the things we talked about today is our initiative that deals with education from a K-12 perspective as it relates to getting an accountable model. That also includes both academic and career pathways for students across the state,” said Waller.

But if they’re going to get the jobs that are coming into the state, they will need the skills that employers are looking for.

“When we started back in 2021, we did a series of 51 focus groups across the state. We even did some right here in Columbus. What we heard in every one of those meetings is that we have got to have an available workforce. Our businesses need to know that if they open up here, and if they decide to expand, they will find the workers necessary to be successful. So, that is why that continues to be at the forefront,” said Waller.

Katie Fenstermacher is the Interim Director at the Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce. She said building interest and the skills needed to drive the local economy starts early.

“Exposing our young students in high school to some of the career options and also exposing them to different certifications, and the post-secondary education that is available here in our area, will improve our local workforce,” said Fenstermacher.

Waller said it is all about making Mississippi a better state.

“When you look at it from an overall perspective, it is all about driving the economy. We know from our research, that it begins with workforce development. When we talk about how we create a stronger workforce, that has an impact on our labor participation rate, and that makes it better. We talk about creating opportunities for young professionals to stay here and work in the state, and that creates those job opportunities that allow them to be here and be successful,” said Waller.

For 24/7 news and updates, follow us on Facebook and X

Categories: Featured, Local News, State News