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“You all can set the bar and be role model for state of Mississippi,” Woodward Hines President and CEO Jim McHale said to a crowd of nearly 300 leaders and community members of Northeast Mississippi. ”Be somebody who changes the odds for all of Mississippians.”

The CREATE Foundation Commission gathered leaders and members from 17 counties for the 22nd annual State of the Region meeting in May of 2018. Featured speakers included Woodward Hines’s Jim McHale and Sheldon Day, Mayor of Thomasville, Alabama.

The Commission of Northeast Mississippi has been CREATE’s major program component since 1995 to build cooperation and unity through regional community development. It is comprised of 54 volunteer leaders from 17 counties. Much like WHEF, the Commission studies data, identifies key issues, and works with numerous partners throughout the region to address issues and achieve goals and objectives.

“College education is a game changer. It ends generational poverty. It changes the future of families and it can change the face of a community and a state.  Talent development leads to economic development and economic opportunity.”

While Mayor Day’s speech focused on his rural city’s economic accomplishments in the South, McHale’s message focused on student barriers to education– an education that would fuel a blossoming economy like Mississippi. While telling the story of three current and former students of various backgrounds, he shared how the foundation’s mission of access, persistence and completion and connection to meaningful employment are critical in creating new possibilities for students across the state.  The clip below is an excerpt from the full speech.

 

 

During his speech, McHale also emphasized the need to establish a strong, state or region-wide attainment goal. By creating and facilitating markers for student success, communities will not only be college-ready, but they will be equipped to contribute to the productivity of the state.

“By 2020, 65% of all jobs will require a postsecondary credential or degree. If every high school senior in Mississippi today attended college, our state would still not meet that 2020 goal.”

Data Source: Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Center on Education and the Workforce.

As CREATE Foundation President Mike Clayborne commented on both speakers, he shared, “McHale’s organization is knocking down barriers to higher education that primarily affect children from financially challenged families. That is important because of our need to build a high quality workforce in a challenging environment.”

Woodward Hines is actively seeking partners, building education affinity groups, and funding strategic programs that will ultimately change the odds for students and families who continually beat them.

Read more about the CREATE Foundation and Commission.

Read a full recap from Tupelo’s Daily Journal.

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