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1/21/2016 - Jackson, Miss.

Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Glenn Boyce announced today the launch of the Mississippi Business Engagement Network, an initiative to connect business and industry to the wealth of university assets housed within Mississippi Public Universities. The initiative has a website, msben.com, to facilitate these connections.

"The Mississippi Business Engagement Network serves as a way for business leaders, economic developers and site selectors to collaborate with our universities, said Dr. Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. "The website was created to provide answers and make connections in a quick and easy manner."

The Mississippi Business Engagement Network is designed to connect business leaders and economic developers with all of the resources, experts and research capabilities within Mississippi Public Universities and help develop, grow and sustain collaborative relationships between the business community and the university system.

"Connecting Mississippi businesses to the assets within our universities is vitally important - especially the asset of our talented students," said Blake Wilson, President & CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council. "Working with MEC's Leadership Mississippi Program, MBEN developed a unique internship program to allow students to gain real-world knowledge of the workplace, as well as provide employers an opportunity to work with the future business leaders of our state."

Mississippi Public Universities have partnered with the Mississippi Research Consortium, the Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Economic Development Council to develop the site and ensure that it is responsive to the needs of business leaders and economic developers.

"Providing efficient information is what MBEN is all about and MEDC is proud to be a partner of the of the web-based portal that connects local and regional economic developers, chamber of commerce executives and site-selectors to the many resources that Mississippi's research universities have to offer," said Mary Swoope, Executive Director of the Mississippi Economic Development Council.

The site includes information on universities' research capabilities and the institutes and centers housed at the universities. Mississippi Public Universities house more than 200 Centers and Institutes that advance knowledge in particular subject areas through research, public presentations and seminars, professional development and other services. The MBEN website allows visitors to search by industry sectors: Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace, Agribusiness, Automotive, Energy, Health Care, Shipbuilding, and Tourism & Film, Distribution & Warehousing and Data Centers & IT, or by university.

"The Mississippi Business Engagement Network will serve as an excellent resource moving forward as we strive to grow the state's economy through new capital investment and more and better careers. Mississippi's public universities are strategic economic assets to the state, and their extensive research capabilities and curricula designed to develop the workforce of the future assists MDA and our partners in our economic development efforts," said MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. "This innovative tool is a shining example of public and private entities joining together to promote our public universities to the world in one convenient location. We look forward to the new opportunities MBEN will help bring to Mississippi."

The MBEN website also serves as a portal to access the research parks at each of the four research universities, including Insight Park, University of Mississippi; Mississippi e-Center - Jackson State University; Thad Cochran Research, Technology & Economic Development Park, Mississippi State University; and The Accelerator, University of Southern Mississippi; and other statewide resources.

"The members of the Mississippi Research Consortium greatly appreciate the establishment of MBEN to aid us in making industries and agencies aware of the wide varieties of expertise and research facilities available at our research universities," said Dr. Gordon Cannon, Vice President for Research at the University of Southern Mississippi and Chair of the MRC. "MBEN will be a major tool for MRC as we strive to assist the State in attracting businesses to Mississippi and fulfill our role in economic development and job creation. We want to thank Commissioner Boyce, Paul Sumrall and the team at IHL for their hard work in providing this valuable information resource."

Information and an online application for the Strengthening Mississippi Academic Research Through Business Act (SMART) is also posted on the website. The SMART Act allows Mississippi businesses who enter into a new research agreement with a Mississippi public university or research corporation to receive a maximum rebate equal to $1,000,000 to help facilitate its next research project.

The MBEN website also includes information on the IHL/MEC Student Internship Program, which assists businesses that are interested in starting a student internship program or need assistance with internship recruitment within the university system.

Additional features, including the addition of the regional universities and a faculty experts database currently under development, are planned for the near future. The MBEN website will continue to grow as the partners identify additional needs to ensure that MBEN is adding value to their work.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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