1/12/2018 – Jackson, Miss.
By Glenn F. Boyce
Commissioner of Higher Education
Economic development is a team sport. It takes lots of partners pulling together and bringing all resources to bear to land the projects that will bring dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of jobs to our state. Mississippi Public Universities are key partners in these efforts.
All eight public universities in Mississippi and the University of Mississippi Medical Center play an integral role in economic development efforts. Our universities address a variety of needs, including conducting research, providing graduates with the skills needed, and providing professional growth programs. We have created the Mississippi Business Engagement Network to serve as a portal to the wealth of assets housed within our universities and to provide both existing and prospective businesses in Mississippi with an easy way to access these resources.
Site selectors often ask if there are research capabilities available to assure prospective business leaders that Mississippi can support their research needs. Last year, Mississippi Public Universities received $420.7 million in external research funding, which supported 2,407 projects.
Mississippi State University is among the National Science Foundation’s Top 100 research universities and ranks in the Top 10 nationally in agriculture-related research, a position it has held for nearly two decades. The university’s numerous centers and institutes attract new projects and support existing industry, helping Mississippi businesses to maintain a competitive edge. Two well-known examples are the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS), which supports the automotive sector, and Franklin Furniture Industry, which supports the furniture industry.
MSU also houses one of the nation’s premier university flight research facilities, Raspet Flight Research Laboratory, established in 1948. The Lab covers the gamut of aerospace-related research, including flight vehicle development and testing, unmanned aircraft systems research, development, test and evaluation, and advanced composite materials development and fabrication.
Within Raspet Lab, the Marvin B. Dow Stitched Composites Center was founded in partnership with Boeing Aircraft and applies innovative advanced composite material design, development, and testing for a wide variety of products, including high-performance aircraft and lightweight body armor.
Mississippi State’s High Peformance Computing Collaboratory (HPC2) provides an advanced computing infrastructure that includes high performance computing systems, a fully immersive 3-D scientific visualization system, high performance storage systems, a large capacity archival system and high-bandwidth networking. This enables the university to provide support of computational modeling of materials, advanced power systems, and human factors research. The Collaboratory is a coalition of 11 centers and institutes within the university.
We also support economic development with training and development for those who work in the field. The University of Southern Mississippi is recognized as a national authority on formal training in economic development, providing expertise, research, and professional development opportunities for economic development professionals. The university’s Trent Lott National Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship works with public entities, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals to plan and implement activities designed to generate jobs and income. Providing assistance based on client needs, the Center has expertise in strategic planning and leadership development; education and training; community analysis and research; and other technical support.
Attracting new business and industry to Mississippi and supporting existing businesses so they can grow and thrive takes the diligent efforts of many working together. We all benefit when these efforts are successful, so we must all join hands whenever we can. Mississippi Public Universities stand steadfast to support economic development and fulfill the needs of business and industry whenever and wherever possible.
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