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Trailblazer Tour to offer opportunity for feedback on Redesign Plan

Editor:

You can tell from the name of the draft plan, “Redesigning Education for the 21st Century Workforce in Mississippi,” that it will need input from our business community to succeed. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Mississippi Economic Council, its president Blake Wilson and its Chair Tom Gresham for organizing this tour and giving me the opportunity to share the plan with business leaders, concerned parents and elected officials across the state. I would also like to thank BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi for sponsoring the tour. I am also very pleased that Dr. Tom Meredith, the Commissioner of the Institutions of Higher Learning, Dr. Wayne Stonecypher, the Executive Director of the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, and Tommye Dale Favre, Executive director of the Mississippi Employment Security Commission, will be along with us for many of the stops on the tour.

Beginning August 22, we will hit all areas of the state before the end of the year. In August, we’ll visit several cities in the Delta and Northwest Mississippi. In September, we’ll be on the Coast and in the Southwest and East Central areas. In October and November, we’ll meet with folks in Northeast Mississippi and wrap up the tour in Jackson in December.

I am looking forward to meeting with all types of business leaders from many different fields, from farming to furniture, from banking to building, from healthcare to horsepower. While the businesses and industries that call Mississippi home may be diverse, they all have one thing in common: they depend upon a strong workforce for their success. Employing skilled, dependable workers is a challenge that all businesses face. I look forward to sharing the plan with employers around the state to gain their insight and input on how we can strengthen the plan to better prepare our students today to be their workforce in the future.

Certainly, with shifting our focus to creating the workforce of the future and what must be done from the very early years of childhood through secondary and post-secondary education, we must work closely with the business community to ensure that we are, in fact, meeting their needs. When developing the plan, we looked at where the jobs in Mississippi will be in the years and decades ahead. Using this information, we developed seven career paths that will lead students from middle school to a productive and satisfying career.

This success of the plan will have a ripple effect: better schools will help attract more business to our state; a better workforce will help keep businesses in our state and help them grow; a better business climate will help generate more tax revenue, which, in turn, will help continue to improve our schools. I look forward to joining hands with the business community to make this a reality.

Again, I would like to thank the Mississippi Economic Council for providing me with this opportunity. Please visit the MEC Web site at www.msmec.com for a complete schedule of all Trailblazer Tour stops. I hope to see you in your hometown this fall.