Educating and engaging tomorrow's leaders

By Meggan Gray – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Tuesday's Educate and Engage seminar gave young professionals a taste of what makes south Mississippi unique.

Clay Williams helped organize the event, which was sponsored by his collaboration of Coast Young Professionals.

"What we were looking to do is to try and get young, up and coming leaders along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to be better educated and informed of the issues that impact the overall Gulf Coast economy," Williams said.

Tuesday's seminar particularly focused on the impact our military bases and industries have on the coast, and why they play such a vital role in our economic make-up.

The Commander of Keesler's 81st Training Wing, Brigadier General Ian Dickinson, was one of the featured speakers. He says he encounters a lot of young people on and off base.

"All of them I think appreciate the impact that Keesler makes, the positive impact that Keesler makes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast along with the Seabee Base and Stennis Space Center and all of our industry partners."

Bill Holmes, Executive Director for the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, spoke to the group about his vision for a future convention corridor. He knows young professionals hold the key to that vision one day becoming a reality, which is why he feels passionately about them staying informed and getting involved.

"They know all the Twitters and the Facebooks, and they know how to get to the masses of young people," Holmes said. "They know how the young people think, and we need the young people involved."

And that is what Williams hopes will happen -- That after hearing about what the coast has to offer, these young professionals will want to help steer south Mississippi in the right direction.

"Well, we hope that they'll take some of this information with them and we hope that they'll also learn about organizations within each community where they can get involved and make a difference," Williams  said.

Other speakers at Tuesday's seminar included the general manager of Hard Rock Casino, Duncan McKenzie, and former astronaut Fred Haise.

This was CYP's second Educate and Engage seminar. The Policy and Government committee hopes to make it an annual event.

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