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Workforce and Talent Pipeline: Preparing the Region for Economic Growth

Entergy Economic Development: Chris Hinton

By Chris Hinton, Representative, Community Development, Entergy Mississippi

Posted October 10, 2018 in Economic Development, Site Selection

As the United States approaches full employment, companies looking for talent are challenged to find an educated, trained workforce to meet their growth needs. Mississippi is poised to meet this challenge. Understanding that growth was on the horizon, communities and educators in the state began to focus more intently on the state’s talent pipeline. This ongoing initiative to develop the future workforce is a crucial element to expanding economic development and meeting the needs of our business clients.

What follows are several examples of ongoing workforce and talent pipeline initiatives in the Entergy Mississippi service area that showcase a commitment to supporting an advanced workforce populated with highly trained, forward-thinking workers.

Project Lead the Way

Project Lead the Way is a non-profit that offers various STEM curriculums at different age levels, with more advanced programs in high school. The aggressive implementation of STEM classes is the best way to prepare students for the evolving demands of the modern workforce. PLTW provides curriculum which is hands-on and encourages creative thinking, problem solving and collaboration, which are all skills that are in high-demand and contribute to global progress.

With over 70 Mississippi schools participating in the program, more than 4,200 schools nationwide have offered PLTW courses to their students. The initiative began in school districts by introducing concepts in elementary school, moving to more hands-on lessons in middle school and then to advanced training and professional development in high school.

“Our kids not only received real-world experience and classroom instruction, they also learned how to cooperate within their own community.  It was more than we imagined for the first year of our program, and it’s a testament to the power of innovation.” – Dr. David Daigneault, Superintendent of Schools, Grenada School District.

Mississippi Coding Academies

The Mississippi Development Authority, Mississippi Community College Board and Innovate Mississippi worked together to create Mississippi Coding Academies. Funded through the State and through grant awards, the academies are a joint venture offering post-secondary students an intensive 11-month, tuition-free computer science education program.

This public/private initiative began in Jackson with Hinds Community College and in Columbus with East Mississippi Community College, with support from the both the Jackson Public School District and the Columbus Municipal School Districts.

The academies prepare highly motivated high school graduates who are not college or junior college-bound for careers in the field of technology. The intent is to reduce the shortage of available coding professionals in the state and establish Mississippi as a high-growth location for the fields of coding and technology. 

Two-Year High School Polymer Science Programs

The Mississippi Polymer Institute and The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Polymers and High Performance Materials work closely with the 11 polymer science high school programs throughout Mississippi, two of which are in the Entergy Mississippi service area: Brookhaven Technical Center and Madison County Schools.

The two-year high school level polymer science program offers an excellent opportunity for students to gain a starting foundation of knowledge in high performance materials technology, science and engineering. It also prepares and trains Mississippi’s future workforce in various high-tech fields. The programs are intended to train high school students in innovative materials science, skills valued by high-tech companies. The program keeps both teachers and students aware of new technologies and processes, and helps implement new programs throughout the state. 

Entergy Leads Through Its People Power Initiative

Entergy Mississippi makes an annual investment of more than $1 million from shareholders to help prepare the state’s workforce and raise its competitive level to attract business and industry.

The focus of the investment is to engage and inspire middle- and high school students through innovative, hands-on STEM programs, and let them hear first-hand from professionals about career opportunities. Counselors are trained and equipped to help guide students in career preparation. In particular, the programs target schools where potential economic growth is tied to existing, certified industrial sites in Entergy’s service area.

The People Power Initiative also funds scholarships that are awarded to outstanding students who might not otherwise be able to attend college. Examples of what the $1 million-plus grant provided in the past are:

Entergy Mississippi’s economic development team continues to work with its community economic development leaders, educators and workforce professionals throughout the service area to strengthen the region’s talent competitiveness. To learn more about workforce talent and capabilities in the Entergy Mississippi service area, visit the website or contact Chris Hinton, Business and Economic Development at chinto3@entergy.com or by calling 601-969-2383.

Or contact Ed Gardner, Director, Business and Economic Development at egardn1@entergy.com or by calling 601-969-2470.