JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Despite high unemployment and budget shortfalls, Mississippi lawmakers are still focused on economic development. Just like every recession in our nation's history, this one will also turn around. And the state wants to be prepared for when that happens.
"We know that it's down, but it's gotta go back up. We want to be ready for that," said Tommye Dale Favre.
Favre is the Executive Director of Mississippi's Department of Employment Security. There, finding jobs is the name of the game. The department runs the state's WIN Job Centers, and tracks labor statistics.
The news hasn't been good lately. But talking about new ways to get Mississippians back to work is a must if the state is to be ready in the future.
"It's about finding ways to connect workers, who perhaps dislocated from a job, with real job opportunities or job training to get them ready," Favre said.
That's where community colleges come in. Louis Dugas heads up workforce training at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. He said more people are taking advantage of time without work to learn a new skill or get a degree.
"My own sister is out of work and recently came to us and was trained a certified nurse assistant," Dugas said.
Still, the hope at this summit was to gain a portion of federal stimulus money to create jobs and keep programs afloat until the economy turns around.
"We certainly think there are going to be some jobs created because of the stimulus dollars that have come into Mississippi," Favre said.
"It's learning more about the stimulus money, how to get it, how to write the grants to obtain the money to provide the training for our population," Dugas said.
Cities, organizations and colleges hoping for stimulus funds must go through a bid process. That means not everyone will receive stimulus money and some programs may go unfunded.