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Economic Summit Planned For April
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University is heading a new statewide economic development effort to be kicked off at an April conference in Jackson.
The Agricultural Economic Summit on April 21 and 22 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jackson will focus on growing the Mississippi economy through agriculture, forestry and community development. The summit will feature several industry leaders addressing issues important to the state. Follow-up meetings around the state will identify goals and areas for improvement during the five-year endeavor.
"Since nearly 90 percent of the natural resources in the state are devoted to agricultural, forestry and fish production, we think a new vision and a plan will be extremely beneficial to the state's economy," said Dr. Rodney Foil, vice president of MSU's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. "We want this conference to show the economic and social potential Mississippi has to help people in the state through the further development of the ag sector."
Clayton Yeutter, former U.S. secretary of agriculture and former U.S. trade representative, will kick-off the summit with an evening speech April 21 to state legislators, educators and leaders involved with agriculture, forestry and community development. Yeutter, also former Republican National Committee chairman and past president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, has been very involved with world trade and agriculture policy.
The public is invited to the April 22 meeting where national leaders will address several issues important to economic development in the state. The five-year agricultural initiative will be discussed during these meetings.
Davis Mortensen, retired executive vice president of Georgia Pacific, will speak on the current status of Mississippi's forestry industry and the potential the state has from increased production. Wayne Boutwell, president and CEO of Southern States' Cooperative, Inc., will offer a global perspective on agriculture and how it affects Mississippi agriculture.
Emery Castle, professor of agricultural and resource economics at Oregon State University, is a recognized national leader in rural community development. He will discuss what rural communities must do to attract jobs and industry.
Dr. Malcolm Portera, MSU president, will moderate a panel discussion on opportunities to further improve the state's agriculture, forestry and rural communities through greater use of science and technology. Panel members are Kenneth Hood, cotton producer in Bolivar County; Mitch Stennett, economic development expert in Jones County; and Tom Ebner, forestry consultant in Lowndes County. Other panelists also may be named.
Portera will conclude the half-day program by discussing his vision of the role MSU will play in the future expansion of agriculture in Mississippi.
In the year that follows, MSU officials expect to hold focus meetings around the state to learn what Mississippians say are their needs and goals related to agriculture, forestry and rural development. Specific goals will be set for MSU's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, and a plan will be outlined to accomplish these goals.