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Poll shows 73% of business leaders are optimistic about Mississippi’s economy

  • A newly released poll from the Mississippi Economic Council ranks workforce training and talent retention among the top priorities for the state.

According to a new poll released Thursday by the Mississippi Economic Council, business and community leaders in the Magnolia State ranked Workforce and Workforce Training, K-12 Education, and Talent Retention and Attraction as their top three priorities.

The survey, shared at MEC’s 75th Annual Meeting in Jackson, also shows optimism about the state’s economy, as 73 percent, nearly three-quarters of Mississippians polled, believe the state is headed in the right direction.

Scott Waller

Scott Waller, MEC President and CEO, said in a statement on the results that the poll provides an opportunity to gauge how leaders across the state view how Mississippi is doing.

“While it is great to see a positive feeling about the direction the state is headed, these results help us understand the other critical areas where we need to focus,” Waller said.

Of the business and community leaders surveyed, key data points from the poll show:

  • 87 percent think transportation infrastructure investments should be concentrated in maintaining roads and bridges.
  • 60 percent said that focusing on the workforce of the future is the best way to improve advanced manufacturing.
  • 49 percent believe that career assistance and mentoring services are most helpful in hiring veterans transitioning out of the military.

Affordability and quality of care ranked as the most important components of healthcare for businesses and their workforce while having a K-12 accountability model that balances academics and career pathways ranked as the top education priority.

As for how well the state is doing training people for the in-demand jobs, preparing the workforce received mixed reviews as 53 percent believe Mississippi is doing a good job preparing the workforce that businesses need. Waller said compared to previous polling, even a slight majority is a step in the right direction.

“Just three years ago, the ability to have an available and skilled workforce was seen as a major problem,” Waller said in a statement. “While we understand we aren’t where we need to be, the emphasis being placed on workforce development and the work the State Office of Workforce Development, known as Accelerate Mississippi, to help align training with what businesses need is creating a major shift in how this is viewed.”

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