Brien Hubbard receives gavel for FoundationBy MARLAN JONES,
On April 25, the Simpson County Development Foundation held their 40th Annual Membership Meeting hosted at Boswell Regional Center and sponsored by Entergy and Southern Pine Electric Power Association.
The Simpson County Development Foundation was organized in 1979 and designed to promote economic development and growth in Simpson County. A group of private citizens met and formed the organization to work at attracting industry to the county.
In 1985 the state legislature transferred over 200 acres of land to the Simpson County Economic Development District, which is responsible for management and maintenance of the individual property owned by the county and for providing the services necessary to market Simpson County to prospective industries, giving priority to the Simpson County Industrial Parks and other properties owned by the Economic Development District.
The working relationship between the SCDF and SCEDD is essential to the economic development of the Simpson County community.
Several high ranking elected officials attended the meeting.
Senator Cindy Hyde Smith gave a brief summary of her recent activities in Washington, D.C., stating that she enjoys working with President Trump and that they have a good relationship. She said she is thankful for the opportunities she has been given and said her first job will always be to make Mississippi the best it can be.
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves also spoke, and stated coming to Simpson County is like coming home. He spoke of the benefits of having a branch of Co-Lin in the county and said the community college was helpful to his family.
Reeves said Simpson County’s growth gives him great reason for optimism. He said governments should not create jobs but instead should create an environment to encourage the private sector to invest capital that leads to the creation of jobs. Reeves said that for job growth to happen the government has to be fiscally responsible. He boasted that Mississippi is in its best financial condition in the history of the state and currently has $450 million set aside for a rainy day.
He also said that the tax code has to be fair and flat and encourage economic development and growth. This will help Mississippi become more competitive when attracting new industries. According to Reeves, the state will collect more revenue and has a lower unemployment rate. He said there are over 82,000 more people working today that there were eight years ago.
Reeves said another focus is to improve the educational attainment level in the state. This includes pre-kindergarten through lifelong learning. The workforce also needs to be educated to meet the demands of jobs for the next 50 years, not the last 50 years.
Reeves then shared his vision that Mississippi should have nine different economic development plans that cover the state and reflect the uniqueness of the different economic districts.
Co-Lin Community College was named Ally of the Year by the SCDF. Dr. Jane Hulon, president of Co-Lin, spoke about the benefits of Simpson County being certified as an ACT Work-Ready Community. It took approximately two years for the county to achieve the designation. This was a team effort between the county and Copiah Lincoln Community College which invested time, money and man hours in work force development in this region.
The ACT Work Ready Communities offer the National Career Readiness Certificate, which quickly pinpoints individuals with essential, verifiable workplace skills. “We expect that all of the employers in the county and surrounding areas will require that their employees take the NCRC exam. Once you do, you will be on your way to finding qualified applicants for your job openings,” Hulon said.
The ACT NCRC is a portable, evidence-based credential that documents essential skills needed for workplace sectors of the economy and verifies the following cognitive skills: problem solving, critical thinking, reading and using work related text, and applying information from workplace documents to solve problems. Simply put, Work Ready Communities help match employees to jobs based on verified skill levels.
Dr. Hulon said, “Work Ready is an opportunity for us to help ourselves, and show employers the skill levels of our workers.”
Hulon said her goal is to build on the firm foundation of those who have come before her as president of Co-Lin. She shared a quote by John C. Maxwell: “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” Hulon said, “We are trying to get the spotlight on Mississippi and establish a regional approach to economic development.”
Courtney Nalker gave a brief presentation on the supported employment program offered to Boswell individuals. The program currently has 60 adults with disabilities gainfully employed in various businesses around the county. TIt provides job coaches and on the job training. Nalker stated these adults have positively impacted the community on various levels.
Following the program the business session of the meeting was called to order. Malory Yelverton accepted her final motions as president of SCDF before passing the gavel to President-elect Brien Hubbard. Hubbard closed the meeting by saying, “I want to be forward thinking and continuously pushing Simpson County to the next level. To do that we need members and individuals to be engaged and we need leadership.”