Interested to know what business leaders, policy makers, and other experts think about innovation and creativity in Mississippi’s economy? Do you follow concerns such as energy, health care, education and public health? Throughout 2014, Maris, West & Baker is sponsoring a series of Twitter forums focusing on various topics focused on important aspects of the 21st century economy. Each forum will feature a guest expert and Mississippi organization that’s making innovative strides in various areas.
We understand the importance that innovation and creativity play in creating an expanding and thriving economy. As 2014 has been proclaimed the Year of the Creative Economy, we want to emphasize how important creativity and creative thinking will be beyond what is traditionally thought of as “creative” jobs. Mississippi is rich in art and architecture, music, writing, and fine art compositions of all sorts. We are equally as creative in our approach to innovating business and industry.
Examples abound. Recent ones. Dr. Hannah Gay thinks outside the box at University of Mississippi Medical Center and implements an HIV treatment regimen that will likely one day prove to save millions of lives. Academics in Oxford have an idea for a software product that literally revolutionizes the mortgage origination business: Thus is born FNC, one of the fastest growing private companies in America. Also on that list is Bomgar, an IT support technology that is the brainchild of a few college students and which has grown to be a model of the digital economy. This creative innovation extends to large corporations, as well. Mississippi’s energy and aerospace clusters are second to none. As Governor Phil Bryant often says, “Man may walk on Mars, but he’ll go through Mississippi to do it.” Virtually every commercial airplane operational in the world today contains a component that was either produced or tested at Mississippi facilities.
How do we ensure that creativity and innovation drive our economy even farther, faster? How does Mississippi effectively position ourselves to be a leader in the 21st Century knowledge economy? As we celebrate 2014 as the Year of the Creative Economy in Mississippi, we believe that we must take a creative look at how we are preparing our youth to win in the world of tomorrow.
Just prior to 2014 being declared the Year of the Creative Economy, the month of November, 2013 was proclaimed as “Mississippi Innovation Month.” A series of events throughout the month highlighted the creative and innovative things happening in Mississippi’s public and private sectors. As one event for the month, MWB teamed with the Mississippi Department of Education and Innovate Mississippi to host a series of coding workshops at schools across the state. Through a partnership with Highland Elementary School in Ridgeland and Ridgeland-based IT company Venture Technologies, one of the workshops focused on training educators in how to teach coding to elementary students. We believe that in order for Mississippi to lead in the new economy, we must ready a workforce familiar with the digital skills that will likely dominate it. Hence, our commitment to the initiative.
Through their participation in a national contest sponsored by Code.org, Highland Elementary was actually awarded $10,000 and spent the week of December 9th participating in an “Hour of Code” initiative. (See story here). The purpose is ultimately to draw attention to the kinds of digital skills education that will ensure Mississippi maintains a highly competitive workforce well into the future.
The simple fact is that innovation, education and creativity cannot be separated. The most creative among us are the most influential innovators, and vice versa. A creative solution to 21st century workforce and economic development likely means incorporating things like coding into our educational system.
We should all be proud that Mississippi is taking a leading and visible role in this effort. For more information on how you can get involved with Mississippi’s Creative Digital Skills Education initiative, please contact us.
A few years ago, a study was commissioned to explore the existing and potential economic impact of the “Creative Economy” in Mississippi. The study uncovered that over 60,000 jobs in Mississippi, and millions of dollars in tourism revenue, are directly related to “creative” industry jobs. This set Mississippi along a path of thinking about the impact of “creativity” and the creative economy differently compared to years past. We have realized that in addition to being a valuable cultural aspect, creativity is actually an economic driver.
Our investment in the creative economy has evolved to the point that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has declared 2014 to be the Year of the Creative Economy. As a company that operates as part of the creative environment, we are excited about the events and celebrations planned throughout the year. We would also like to add that creativity isn’t just limited to organizations tied to the arts. A creative atmosphere is conducive to innovative problem solving, entrepreneurship, and technological advancement.
Silicon Valley wouldn’t have grown into the world’s innovation incubator had creativity not existed alongside technical know-how. Pittsburgh couldn’t have shed its rust-belt shackles to become of hub of advanced manufacturing and bioscience were it not for visionary creative leadership. As much is true for the robust economy of Texas, mixing rich creative culture with industry to produce an excellent environment for quality of life.
So it is that so much creativity exists within businesses and organizations in Mississippi. Our entrepreneurial environment has been ranked among the best in the nation. Our health care sector continues to produce world-changing results. Innovative energy projects have vaulted our state to the forefront of a revitalized energy sector. And as Governor Bryant has mentioned before, man might walk on Mars, but he’ll have to go through Mississippi to do it. Our state is a leader in aerospace component development and production with one of the most robust clusters in the industry today.
As the Year of the Creative Economy is upon us, it is time that we stop apologizing for where we are from and what we have to offer. We are no longer a backwater. The days for playing catchup are over. The time for us to lead is now. All Mississippians should be proud of our contributions to creativity and what lies ahead. Hold your heads high. Learn about our creative achievements, the impact that creativity and innovation has for our economy and the nation as a whole. Mississippi is a creative place, and that creativity will drive us into being a leader in the 21st century economy.
Show your pride. Join the celebration of our Creative Economy #YoCE: