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10/13/2020 - Jackson, Miss.

Businesses in a variety of sectors continue to announce plans to locate or expand in Mississippi. The Mississippi Development Authority recently announced that Mission Forest Products is locating sawmill in Corinth, creating approximately 130 jobs; Adranos is bringing rocket motor research and development to Stone County; and Loss Prevention Services is locating corporate headquarters in Natchez, creating 200 jobs.

While these businesses may be different, they all have one thing in common: the need to build a trained, qualified workforce that will help them grow and thrive. Building a qualified workforce requires hiring individuals with the skills and education necessary, while the level of skills and education needed continues to advance.

Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce has noted the changes in the manufacturing sector in its 2019 report, Upskilling and Downsizing in American Manufacturing: "Downsizing and upskilling upended the structure of good jobs within manufacturing. Before 2005, workers with a high school diploma or less held the largest number of good jobs in manufacturing. Workers with bachelor's degrees greatly increased their number of good jobs from 2.8 million in 1991 to 3.6 million in 2016."

Mississippi Public Universities are preparing the workforce for manufacturing and other sectors that are locating and expanding in the state.

Mississippi State University's Bachelor of Applied Science degree program is a change agent for Mississippians who have technical skills—but need the value of a four-year degree—to advance their career goals. Those who hold a technical associates degree through a community college or the military can choose from a variety of BAS online and in-person courses at the university, completing a degree that will help them compete locally, nationally and globally for high-quality jobs. Geosciences, general business, environmental conservation, educational psychology and agricultural engineering are just a few of the many MSU programs available. With new businesses and industries emerging in the state, this program also helps meet workforce demands.

Students at the University of Mississippi's Center for Manufacturing Excellence (CME) take both academic and hands-on courses that teach the principles of accountancy, engineering, business, communication, and continuous improvement through the lens of manufacturing. CME's LEED-certified facility includes a 12,000-square-foot manufacturing floor where students learn the importance of safety in the industrial environment, the value of teamwork and how to turn their ideas into tangible products. Beyond the classroom, CME cultivates future leaders by immersing students in enriching educational opportunities with industry partners through internships, co-ops, and experiential learning courses held at manufacturing facilities. Experiential learning courses have been held at ADP Products, ABB, Nissan, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Borg Warner, Viking Range, Blue Delta Jeans, GE Aviation and more.

At The University of Southern Mississippi, individuals with a technical/occupational degree from a two-year institution have the opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Science in applied technology. The fully online applied technology program emphasizes the practical application of business management and examines human resource and development, production process planning, and technological innovations critical for success in public and private industries. Designed specifically for students with career and technical credit, this interdisciplinary degree program allows students to transfer up to 45 hours of technical course credit.

Alcorn State University is home to a new resource for women entrepreneurs in Mississippi. The new Women's Business Center will empower women through education, training and resources provided by the Center. Hosted on Alcorn's campus, the Women's Business Center will be funded through a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) providing $150,000 per year for up to five years. The SBA's Centers are a national network of more than 100 centers that offer one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance and mentoring to women entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics, including business startup, financial management and procurement.

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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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