Blueprint Mississippi stops in Natchez today

Published 12:01am Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NATCHEZ — The Blueprint Mississippi tour is coming through Natchez today, and those who attend can help shape the message molded by the state’s business leaders.

Sponsored by the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC), the Blueprint Mississippi Pathway to Progress Tour is part informative and part feedback.

MEC President Blake A. Wilson said business leaders developed a statewide business development plan in 2011, and today’s meeting will focus on how it’s being implemented.

“You can first come out and find out what’s going on,” he said. “The second thing is there is a chance for input. You can rate your priorities. We do this with a process of electronic voting where every attendee has a little device in front of them and gets to vote electronically on the various issues.”

The 90-minute meeting starts at noon at the Carriage House as part of the Natchez Rotary Club meeting. Non-Rotarians are welcome to attend but are asked to first register at msmec.com.

Wilson said this is an important time for the roadshow, because it is occurring at the same time as the state legislative session. Results of the tour, which are taken across 19 cities, are provided to the state’s elected leaders as examples of the business community’s priorities.

“They know what we are bringing them is really from their community,” Wilson said. “When we develop our policies and positions, they are based on the reality of what our members and other members of the community think.

“We’re run entirely by volunteers, and we take no government grants. We do it to share with our volunteer leadership, business leaders from every corner of the state, what people all around the state are thinking.”

Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Hudson said the timing of the Blueprint tour is ideal for getting Southwest Mississippi’s message to state legislators.

“It just seems like everything we heard from the legislative breakfast (is) that there are so many things of interest concerning health care and education,” Hudson said. “It is all real timely. The more you know, the better you can decide which way you want to go with what you find important.”

Wilson said voting is done using multiple-choice questions, but organizers also provide cards so attendees can write their input.

“Further, they can sign up to be a stakeholder in the blueprint process on one of the task forces or committees,” he said. “They don’t have to be a member or pay anything.”