Author Archives: Colin Krieger

GTR Early Workforce Initiative Produces 153 Students with National Credential

The Golden Triangle LINK’s Early Workforce Initiative program, now in its second year, has been a resounding success, helping to prepare GTR-area students for college and for future jobs by helping them to earn credentials based on scholarship via the ACT testing program. This helps to recognize students’ potential and desire for training in specific fields, so that their curricula may be tailored towards fields in which they are likely to excel – and, hopefully, truly enjoy! And that’s Good for Business…and our kids’ Education!

PRESS RELEASE – From GTR LINK

GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Mississippi – Now in its second year of implementation, the Golden Triangle Early Workforce Initiative has seen positive improvement in WorkKeys testing among area high schools.

A total of 273 students took the test with 153 earning ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate. Last year, only 124 students took the test, with a little more than half receiving the credential.

“We’re thrilled with the numbers in our second year,” said Macaulay Whitaker, VP of Internal and External Affairs with the Golden Triangle Development LINK. “It shows how invested these schools are in providing real, meaningful opportunities for their students futures. Overall, we’ve facilitated 239 students earning a nationally recognized credential that will propel them into the workforce.”

According to EMCC, historical data indicates that the 66% of test takers in the Golden Triangle receive a Silver or higher score.

“We have already seen students benefit from this opportunity and enrolling in technical programs,” said Chrystal Newman. “This is setting them on a path to a successful career, providing them with direction before they graduate high school and the chance to get a head start on their future.”

The GTR Early Workforce Initiative (EWI) is part of an effort headed by the GTR LINK further provide workforce development efforts in the region. A committee representing all three counties and levels of development has been formed to continue to develop plans for the regional workforce to meet the demand of current and potential developments.

The EWI was provided to students through a subsidization from the Golden Triangle Development LINK Trust, a private investment group committed to the development of the region. Each high school was offered up to $5,000 to subsidize all testing fees for students. EMCC provided staff, training materials, on-site and in-hours testing as well as support for teachers and counselors guiding students through the process.

“We listened to feedback from our schools and community during the first year and committed that this test should be provided to students for free,” said Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the GTR LINK. “We hope that one day it will be given to all graduating seniors, just like the ACT.”

As defined by ACT WorkKeys, the test is a job skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop, and retain a high-performance workforce. This test is commonly used in the Golden Triangle by employers to measure trainability, among other skill sets. Test takers that achieve a Silver or higher score on the test earn ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate.

For more information about the GTR Early Workforce Initiative, contact Macaulay Whitaker at mwhitaker@gtrlink.org or call 662.328.8369.

For more information about WorkKeys testing for high school students, contact the EMCC Workforce Services Team at 662-243-2686.

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Starkville Seeks to Revitalize Hwy 182 Corridor

A coalition of business consultants and local officials got together recently to discuss ways to help bring the Hwy 182 business district back to life by cleaning up and renovating unused storefronts, doing new construction and beautification. Many ideas were put forth, and research will be done between the final deadline at he end of September, allowing time for the citizenry to give their own input, in addition to the public commentary that has already been gathered. The proposed changes are intended to help encourage local entrepreneurs to operate in the area, and to get shoppers into those shops – and that’s Good for Business!

Courtesy of the Dispatch –

One specific proposal suggested taking the gas station at the corner of Highway 182 and Douglas L. Connor Drive and turning it into a restaurant, “Roosters,” inspired by a famous local fowl of days gone by. The proposed floorplan will keep the existing station’s (inoperative) gas pumps within the restaurant, and incorporate the existing structure, in order to help give it a unique look and feel. Other suggestions included a two-story, mixed-use building on another corner with retail space on the ground floor, and residential above. Outside funding will be sought.

“A limited vision is of limited value,” Mayor Parker Wiseman said. “We want to start with the idea of what the maximum potential of the area should be. It’s important not to hold anything back in stating our aspirations, and I believe the community did that this week . . . In setting a vision, you want a vision that inspires, and you also want a vision that has local buy-in,” Wiseman said. “The best way to build that vision is to have local stakeholders be the driving force behind the vision.”

Read the full version here: http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=51115

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EMCC’s GTECHS Enrollment to Double

EMCC’s Golden Triangle Early College High School has been a resounding success, graduating all sixty of their freshmen to 10th grade this past year. Enrollment is expected to double this fall for the still-relatively-new school, which opened its doors last year, with a fresh batch of sixty frosh on the way. the plan is to continue adding sixty freshmen each year. This “early college” school is the first of its kind in the state, allowing students to learn more, sooner, and earn college credit while they’re in high school. The Junior and Senior years will be comprised almost exclusively of college-level courses for these ambitious youngsters.

Courtesy of the Dispatch

Rising sophomores enrolled in East Mississippi Community College’s Golden Triangle Early High School pose along with school staff for a photo that accompanied acceptance letters to incoming freshmen who will start at the school in August. Photo by: Courtesy photo

Rising sophomores enrolled in East Mississippi Community College’s Golden Triangle Early High School pose along with school staff for a photo that accompanied acceptance letters to incoming freshmen who will start at the school in August. Photo by: Courtesy photo

GTECHS, the first early college high school in Mississippi, opened in the fall of 2015. The pilot program is the result of a partnership between EMCC, the Mississippi Department of Education and Mississippi State University.

“This innovative program is for students who may be first-generation college students, but they don’t have the confidence to think they will do well,” MDE Associate Superintendent Jean Massey said in a press release on the agency’s website. “The school is also for students who need an alternative to the traditional high school setting.”

Savely said for the first two years the GTECHS students attend classes together as they would at a traditional high school. In their junior and senior years, the bulk of their time is spent taking regular college courses. The majority of those courses are dual credit and count towards the students’ high school diplomas and college degrees.

“I think from an administrative standpoint, a principal in a really big school is disconnected from the students because the student body is so large and there are so many other things that demand attention,” Savely said. “Here, I have an opportunity to connect with the students. They know my door is always open and that they can reach me by email or by phone.”

Savely said application to GTECHS is open to any eighth grade student — whether they attend public or private school, or are homeschooled — in Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee or Oktibbeha County. She said applications are usually available in January. Last year GTECHS students chose the Wildcat as their school mascot and blue and gold as their school colors.

“When someone walks down the hall in that area we want them to know this is the Golden Triangle Early College High School,” Miller said.

Click here for full article: http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=51093

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MS Main Street Honors Starkville Main Street

Courtesy of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership

The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) celebrated achievements of Mississippi Main Street Communities at the 27th Annual Awards Luncheon in downtown Jackson on Thursday, June 16. A number of Starkville’s finest were honored at the luncheon, including Brian Jones of Thomas Shelton Jones & Associates, Mark Castleberry of The Mill, and Starkville Main Street itself (for the third time).

“I am so proud of the great work that business leaders, business and property owners, and our own community development organization are doing to protect, preserve, and revitalize Downtown Starkville. Downtowns are the heart and soul of any great community, and that is no different in Starkville. The individuals and projects that were honored this year have greatly contributed to the quality of life in the Starkville community, and I’m so grateful for the honor and recognition that has been bestowed upon them each,” said Jennifer Gregory, GSDP CEO and Starkville Main Street Manager.

Award recipients at the 2016 MS Main Street Award event (courtesy photo)

Award recipients at the 2016 MS Main Street Award event (courtesy photo)

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MSU’s iCreate Camp Gives Teens the Chance to Run a Business

Lauren Graham and Caroline Parker, seniors at Lamar School in Meridian, tell customers about their custom pieces at the iCreate pop-up shop at Mississippi State's Visual Arts Center on Saturday afternoon. The shop featured the work of students who attended an entrepreneurial camp at the university this week. Photo by: Mary Alice Truitt/Dispatch Staff

Lauren Graham and Caroline Parker, seniors at Lamar School in Meridian, tell customers about their custom pieces at the iCreate pop-up shop at Mississippi State’s Visual Arts Center on Saturday afternoon. The shop featured the work of students who attended an entrepreneurial camp at the university this week. Photo by: Mary Alice Truitt/Dispatch Staff

MSU recently played host to seven Mississippi students and one Georgia student, in their first-ever iCreate camp. The students learned about creating a new shop and put the theory into practice, and MSU hopes to continue the program’s success. This program, and others like it that could appear in the future, will prepare our young people for life beyond school, while giving them a solid grounding in the realities of working at and running a store. And that’s Good for Business!

Courtesy of the Dispatch

The students put together a business plan and set up a boutique jewelry store in six days.  The students also took time to visit established jewelry boutiques around Starkville and talk to business owners in the community. They also heard guest lecturers from the university. Friday they set up the store and Saturday they opened for business in the Visual Arts Center on University Drive. Within a couple of hours of opening their doors, they had made a little over $300. Prices were mostly in the $25-50 range.

“Just the simplest piece in the room can make any item of more value to the customer,” said Alex Ridge, a rising 10th grader from Pontotoc. “Marketing isn’t just selling things to the customer.”

Anmol Narang, a senior at Brookhaven Academy, sorts materials at the iCreate pop-up shop at Mississippi State's Visual Arts Center on Saturday afternoon. The shop featured the work of students who attended an entrepreneurial camp at the university this week. Photo by: Mary Alice Truitt/Dispatch Staff

Anmol Narang, a senior at Brookhaven Academy, sorts materials at the iCreate pop-up shop at Mississippi State’s Visual Arts Center on Saturday afternoon. The shop featured the work of students who attended an entrepreneurial camp at the university this week.
Photo by: Mary Alice Truitt/Dispatch Staff

Camp Coordinator Justin Hall credited the students for the camp’s success. Student-driven camps always depend on the dedication and strength of the students, and he had a really great group this year, he said. “It’s been a great experience I think, so far, for everybody.”

Read the full article here: http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=50896

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Over 1,500 8th Graders Expected to Attend Special Career Expo This Fall

We all want our kids to succeed in life. One way to help insure this is to get them started early. Northeast Mississippi’s own CREATE is planning to give 8th graders the chance to get a serious head-start to help them answer the immortal question: “What WILL you be when you grow up?” … And that’s Good for Business!

Info courtesy of the Dispatch (Op-Ed):

CREATE logoMike Clayborne, president of the CREATE Foundation, says eighth grade is a good time to start thinking about one’s future career path. CREATE, a community development organization for 17 counties in northeast Mississippi, will hold a career expo for thousands of eighth-graders in October at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo.

It is often difficult for young students to see the correlation between what they are being taught in school and how those lessons are applied in the working world. When students understand the practical applications of what they’re exposed to in the classroom, they are far more likely to embrace their studies.  As the modern workplace becomes more specialized, with workers being required to have specific, advanced skills, it is important young students begin to prepare themselves at an early age.

CREATE is asking for community support to ensure the success of the expo. Private citizens or organizations can sponsor students or serve as volunteers, while area businesses and industry can participate as exhibitors.

To learn more about the career expo or to volunteer or sponsor a student, contact Albine Bennett at CREATE at 662-844-8989 or email her at albine@createfoundation.com.

You can learn more about the CREATE Foundation at their website, here: http://createfoundation.com/

You can read the full article and find more info at this link: http://www.cdispatch.com/opinions/article.asp?aid=50800

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Summer Jobs for Teens

Many teens take up summer jobs in order to earn some cash, get exposure to handling their own finances for the first time, and to learn to take orders (in more ways than one!). Many more, however, either do not – or, in today’s economy, cannot. One could quite reasonably argue that kids having jobs is good for the area, good for the kids, and good for the future of the local workforce, because of how it expands the number of people who are familiar with how work really works. And that’s Good for Business!

OP-ED courtesy of the Dispatch –

While we don’t begrudge students a break from their academic work, we believe there is much to say for using the summer to gain experience for the real world of work they will soon enter once their school days have ended. This is not simply conjecture. A 2013 Brookings Institute study found that finding a job as an adult is harder for those who did not work during their teen years. The study also found that kids who worked in high school earned wages that were 10 to 15 percent higher after graduating from college.

While education prepares young people for a life of work, there is no substitute for personal experience. These are fundamental lessons: Showing up on time, being prepared, taking direction, meeting goals, working with others, solving problems and any number of other experiences a person typically encounters during the work day.

We encourage all teens to actively pursue work this summer. We also implore businesses to make room for those young people. It benefits the business and the community. We want our young people to be well prepared for the adult world. That’s why we send them to school, after all.

As has been said, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. So, too, is a summer.

Read the full article here: http://www.cdispatch.com/opinions/article.asp?aid=50742

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Save the Date: Friday, July 1 for Fireworks on the Water

The CVB, Columbus Air Force Base, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city are proud to present their annual Fireworks on the Water program on Friday, July 1 from 5-10 PM on the East bank of the Stennis Lock & Dam (the fireworks will be visible from the West side, as well). Come on out to enjoy the celebration, food, live entertainment, kids’ activities, and stay for the brilliant light show in the sky!

Courtesy of the Dispatch —

CVB President Nancy Carpenter

CVB XD Nancy Carpenter

Events like this help people of all ages and backgrounds to come together and just have fun as a community. “It’s not just a community event,” CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter said. “It’s one that the entire region comes out to enjoy.”

The event will feature jumpers, face painting and other activities for children, along with glow sticks for purchase. The fireworks display should start about 9 p.m.

Carpenter said CVB is asking that people don’t bring their own coolers or pets.

“The initial reason behind it was the Visit Columbus Board of Directors wanted to do something special for the men and women at Columbus Air Force Base,” she said. “There’s no better time than our Independence Day to do that. This is a way we can say thank you by doing something special for them and their families.”

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Networking Event Helps Businesses Connect with Contractors

Small businesses that might not otherwise have had the opportunity to get in on MS Department of Transportation contracts are getting their opportunities expanded – and that’s good for business!

Courtesy of WTVA

MDOT recently held a free “Meet the Primes Contractors ” event Wednesday at Itawamba Community College in Belden, just outside of Tupelo. The purpose of the networking gathering was to attract small businesses of all types, in order to help increase the pools of contractors available for MDOT jobs, and to help grant access to small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses.
” It’s extremely important because a number of the companies that were represent here today are relative small and do not have the opportunity to bid as prime contractors or to bid on some of the larger MDOT jobs so one of a few ways in which they can get MDOT jobs or MDOT work is to works as a subcontractor for larger contractors. ” said Project Administrator Larry Davis.

Read the full article here: http://www.wtva.com/news/Networking_Event_Helps_Minority_Women-Owned_and_Small_Businesses_Connect_with_Prime_Contractors.html

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Starkville’s Hwy 182 Improvements in the Works

Courtesy of the Dispatch

Officials in Starkville will be holding a meeting today with business developers and planers to discuss new ideas for how to improve the Hwy 182 corridor in order to bring new businesses into the city. The public meeting will be held in the second-floor conference room in City Hall at 11AM today. Reps from MDOT and MDA are also expected to attend. It is hoped that making the area better via various means will help new, businesses to establish themselves in affordable locations as close to downtown proper as possible.

Community Development Director Buddy Sanders had this to say: “For example, you could give more flexibility to someone in terms of how they have to alter structures to bring them up to standards,” he said. “Small startups typically don’t have a lot of cash. Say someone graduates from State, loves Starkville and doesn’t want to leave, and his or her dream is to open up a pizza place. Rent in Starkville can be expensive in a lot of places, but 182 is reasonable, and there is a lot of opportunities. Say they want to open it up in an empty service station, but they can’t afford to tear it down and move it closer to the street. That’s where you can find flexibility.”

More public sessions are expected to follow in the future.

Read the full article here: http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=50570

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