MEC statewide Pacesetter Tour gets started in Gulfport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

MEC statewide Pacesetter Tour gets started in Gulfport

Blake Wilson, President and CEO of the MEC, and his staff are spending the next two months touring to help the state's economy grow. (Photo source: WLOX) Blake Wilson, President and CEO of the MEC, and his staff are spending the next two months touring to help the state's economy grow. (Photo source: WLOX)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

Building bridges to tomorrow. That's what the Mississippi Economic Council wants to see happen statewide. The council began its annual tour Wednesday on the Coast.

Blake Wilson, President and CEO of the MEC, and his staff are spending the next two months touring to help the state's economy grow. That tour will cover 23 cities and 4,000 miles.

Wilson uses the tour that he calls a roadshow in an attempt to bring the state together.

"In Mississippi, with 82 counties, there's a lot of geography that separates us. But, we're a small state and people know each other," said Wilson.

His goal is to shrink the miles that separate Mississippians. The tour started on the Coast, where the differences in industries are wide in variety.

"Every part of the state is different, but how do we get everybody on the same page," asked Wilson.

During the tour, Wilson gets a consensus of general perception of the state's transportation, workforce, education and economic competition. 

Duncan McKenzie, General Manager of IP Casino, shared his thoughts on the health of the gaming industry on the Coast.

"The Coast market has done very well in the last year because of the diversity of the economy on the Coast," said McKenzie.

This diversity includes everything from tourism to nonprofits. John McFarland, with the American Red Cross, said it's important for every aspect of the economy to work together, including nonprofits.

"By definition, we rely on donations for our existence and for the services we provide," said McFarland.

He believes improved communications and cooperation within the local and state economies are crucial to his organization.

"The more people who are working, the more businesses that come into town, the better the donations are, which means the better services we can provide," said McFarland.

That is something that could stem from the MEC's annual efforts to improve the state's economic status.

The tour will be spending the next week here on the Coast visiting each coastal county.

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