MSU institute enhances economic development

By Russell Hood The Webster Progress-Times

Eupora Rotarians and guests learned about services offered by the Technology Resource Institute at Mississippi State University at their March 20 meeting. Jeffrey Rupp, director of outreach, said the institute enhances economic development by leveraging university resources to help communities, businesses and organizations. The institute promotes university public/private partnerships that enhance development throughout the state. While housed in the College of Business, TRI is funded by a grant from the Economic Development Administration as part of that agency’s University Center program. The institute serves as a liaison with appropriate faculty or service agencies in resolving business issues. Some of its most popular services include free consulting projects for businesses by MBA teams, the FastTrac new-venture training program, and information dissemination programs on new technologies and research conducted at the land-grant institution. Family business workshops are offered with such topics as how to make a succession plan and how family businesses gain competitive advantage. Rupp, who is former mayor of Columbus, said the institute gives MBA students opportunities for real-world experiences, fosters relationships with businesses and assists economic development efforts. “I think we need to do community development as well,” he said. The TRI is conducting research in the renewable energy sector, which Rupp said he expects to expand in Mississippi, particularly in this area. Through a partnership with the Choctaw County Chamber of Commerce, three MBA consulting teams are working in Choctaw County. The teams are studying what role the county can play in the biomass market, working with Mezner Lumber and studying how fly ash can be marketed. Eupora Mayor Tommy Lott, city Alderman at-large Dan Burchfield, and county supervisors Pat Cummings, Paul Crowley and Doug Burgess were guests at the meeting. Rotarian Belinda Stewart, who is mayor of Walthall, was program chair. Rupp may be contacted at 325-8122 or jeffrey.rupp@msstate.edu.