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1/22/2016 - Jackson, Miss.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi will join with students from Mississippi Public Universities to tackle one of Mississippi's most pressing problems: Obesity and related health issues. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi will serve as the title sponsor for the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Social Business Challenge, giving students from Mississippi Public Universities the opportunity to showcase their ideas, creativity and ingenuity as they present ideas for businesses focused on reducing obesity and related health issues rather than making a profit.

BlueCross Blue Shield of Mississippi - Mississippi Social Business Challenge

"We greatly appreciate the support of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi," said Dr. Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. "Their generous contribution will provide the first, second and third place teams with funds to help turn ideas into actual businesses that will help reduce the prevalence of obesity in our state."

Open to any public university student, the challenge requires students to work in teams of three to six with at least one faculty adviser. Eleven teams, representing each public university, Alcorn State University's School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences, Mississippi State University's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, will compete.

"Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi is committed to supporting efforts aimed at building a healthy Mississippi," said Sheila Grogan, Vice President, Community and Public Relations for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. "The students at our state's colleges and universities are the future of our state, and it's important we enlist their talents and ideas in creating a healthy future not only for their generation, but those who will follow."

The teams may enlist the assistance of professionals or alumni that have expertise in the topic or in building a business plan. Each team has developed a business plan, which will be presented to the judges in a brief oral presentation at the Institutions of Higher Learning Board Room, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 9:00 a.m.

Now in its second year, the Challenge asks each team to outline how the proposed business will help reach one of the nine goals identified by Blueprint Mississippi. In 2012, Blueprint Mississippi, an independent cooperative of organizations and leaders, conducted an objective review of Mississippi's economic opportunities and recommended actions for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity. This included enabling a more prosperous, vibrant, and resilient Mississippi built upon a foundation of economic opportunity for all citizens.

The nine Blueprint Mississippi goals include:

  1. Increase the Educational Achievement of Mississippians
  2. Cultivate a More Robust Workforce in Mississippi
  3. Strengthen and Expand Mississippi's Economy
  4. Promote Health Care as an Economic Driver
  5. Support Mississippi's Creative Economy
  6. Continually Develop the Infrastructure for a Competitive Economy
  7. Increase Availability of Financial Capital
  8. Cultivate Diversity, Community Cooperation and Racial Reconciliation
  9. Improve Communication and Coordination Among Public, Private and Non-profit Leaders

In addition to encouraging students to develop ideas for Mississippi's most pressing problems, the Challenge also aims to support learning important lessons about planning, teamwork and presenting ideas.

"By working in teams representing a cross-section of the campus and the programs offered at the universities, students learn how to set and achieve goals, how to work as a team to achieve a common goal and how to use their skills and talents to help others," said Dr. Boyce. "These skills will translate well as students graduate and enter the professional world as the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs."

More information is posted online.

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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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