The event was sponsored in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Cleveland.
Cleveland was one of 19 stops that MEC plans to make as it journeys across the state seeking the input and feedback of citizens on suggestions for improving economic development.
Blueprint Mississippi was an extensive one-year, $1.25 million research project focusing on 12 Blueprint States – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
The report looks at how Mississippi compares with the Blueprint States and how the state can better position itself for progress.
The goals for Blueprint Mississippi are to improve communication and coordination among public, private and non-profit leaders, cultivate diversity, strengthen and expand Mississippi's economy, increase the educational achievement level of Mississippians, increase availability of financial capital, promote health care as an economic driver and continually develop the infrastructure for a competitive economy.
President and CEO of Mississippi Economic Council Blake Wilson was the speaker for this event.
The key focus of MEC under Wilson's leadership has been to shrink the miles that separate Mississippi and take advantage of our secret weapon – our interconnections among people – to make progress in education, economic development and business climate and image.
Using technology, he has given business leaders the capability to have a meaningful voice under the State Capitol dome without leaving their desks … even in communities located far away from Jackson.
Wilson said, "Mississippi is on the run and this campaign will ensure that the state remains on the move."
He said that MEC is focusing on implementing Blueprint goals to achieve top-tier ranking among states in workforce preparedness, economic climate, creative economy, health care, infrastructure and sustain progress.
According to Wilson, one of the most important components that can be used to improve the economic conditions of Mississippi is education.
"Career education is very important. Common Core is something that you are going to continue to hear a lot of. Some people are blaming Common Core on the president but actually it was a concept that was embraced by Fortune 500. They are saying that we need to have a key comparative tool and common core is that tool," Wilson added.
During his presentation, members of the audience were given clickers that enabled them to give feedback as he posed various questions.
This type of two-way communication is similar to the database that is used by MEC to communicate and link more than 8,000 business leaders in an effort to influence the legislative process within minutes.
Audience members voted on issues such as infrastructure, education and the conditions of roads in Mississippi.
According to Wilson, Mississippi is often viewed in a negative connotation by northerners but the state has certain elements that give it an "edge."
"Things are not perfect yet in Mississippi but we are on the right trajectory. "The Nissan plant changed the face of manufacturing opportunities in Mississippi and accounts for over 2 percent of the economic gross. Having a relationship in public and private sectors is what gives Mississippi an advantage over other states," he added.
Wilson also said that opportunity is abundant in Mississippi and there are a growing list of global companies and entrepreneurs that are calling the state home.
"One of the most important and influential components currently underway in Cleveland is the Grammy Museum. The Grammy Museum is a huge deal. It's a big educational component that is going to set this town a part from all others. The museum is going to complement the state and the B.B. King Museum in Indianola," said Wilson.
"It will give tourist the opportunity to stay in Mississippi a little longer," he added.
The mission of MEC is to build a strong diverse network of leaders from every corner of the state balanced with a broad variety of leadership abilities and career accomplishments creating a core of individuals committed to Mississippi's future.
The Mississippi Economic Council has been the voice of Mississippi business since 1949.
MEC deals with broad issues that relate to businesses through advocacy, research, resources and leadership. MEC has more than 8,000 members from 1,100 member firms throughout Mississippi.
For more information or to register, please visit www.mec.ms to register.