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Six counties participating in 2019-20 Aspire Mississippi program

Jackson, Mississippi — May 29, 2019 — Representatives from six counties throughout the state are participating in Aspire Mississippi, a program designed to help develop leaders at the local level who will implement innovative programs and projects in their communities to spur economic growth.

Representatives from Covington, Lawrence, Leake, Panola, Sharkey and Walthall counties, each led by their respective economic development organizations, are participating in this year’s program.

“Using the leadership = community development = economic development model, for the next year these leaders will sharpen their skills toward the goal of making their communities the best they can be for corporations seeking new locations for investment, which will create new career opportunities for Mississippians,” said Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. “MDA commends these leaders for dedicating their time and skills to community development, which will result in enhanced economic development in their counties.”

Aspire Mississippi provides support to participants as they identify marketable assets, allowing them to increase industrial and economic development in their counties. The program helps communities develop projects that will achieve significant and sustainable community and economic development outcomes. Curriculum focus areas include: project mapping, community development, economic development and workforce development. The location for each session alternates among the Aspire Mississippi counties.

Participants in the 2018-2019 program graduated in March. They represented Attala, Choctaw, Marshall, Simpson and Webster counties. Their projects were:

  • Attala – “It’s Worth It” – a program designed to teach young adults soft skills so they are better prepared to enter the workforce
  • Choctaw – “Track on Over to Ackerman” – a project designed to increase business revenue in Ackerman by attracting and engaging visitors and encouraging them to shop and dine in the town
  • Marshall – “WOKE” – a project focused on developing training for high school students so they can learn soft skills needed to find and maintain employment
  • Simpson – “Create Your Own Shadow” – a program focusing on soft skills as they relate to employability among high school students
  • Webster – “YES” – a project focused on providing high school students with improved job and workforce training skills

“Through Aspire Mississippi, we aim to help communities reach their full potential by working closely with a diverse team of existing and emerging leaders representing many community sectors,” said MDA Asset Development Division Director Chance McDavid. “It is important to involve traditional leaders like elected officials and business owners, and it is just as important to seek those individuals who are passionate about their communities and participating in community-building initiatives.”

The 2019-20 Aspire Mississippi program will conclude in December with each teams’ project presentations and a graduation ceremony. For more information, visit mississippi.org/aspire.