JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI (Dec. 1, 2021) — Mississippi State Senate Technology Chairman Scott DeLano joined an all-star lineup of Mississippi business and technology leaders for a discussion about the role technology platforms and digital tools are playing during the pandemic and growing the Mississippi economy. Participants also discussed Mississippi’s technology workforce future. The “Tech Forward Webcast: How Technology is Fueling the Mississippi Recovery and Growing the Mississippi Economy” was hosted by Rob Retzlaff, Executive Director of the Connected Commerce Council (3C), a non-profit membership organization representing digitally empowered small businesses.
“Mississippi is open for business and tech jobs are taking us to that next level of competition for jobs, products, and services,” said State Senate Technology Committee Chairman Scott DeLano. “During the Covid-19 pandemic, we all relied on digital tools to help us survive. Now, I’m excited about the tech innovation that’s happening in our communities. It’s a win for our businesses and a win for our students who will soon be in the job market. Technology is the key fuel for our recovery and growth.”
Following Senator DeLano’s keynote, Retzlaff was joined by Janita Stewart from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Danielle Morgan from the Mississippi Tourism Association, and Clayton Stanley from The Alliance, for a panel discussion on digital commerce in Mississippi.
The Covid-19 pandemic compelled businesses to look at new ways to retain current customers and grow business. 3C research shows 93 percent of small businesses in Mississippi leaned heavily on digital tools during the pandemic, a higher rate than the national average of 72 percent. The top tools used by Mississippi businesses include social media, digital payments, online marketplace, and search engine optimization. Businesses want to further expand into business websites, online training platforms, and online hiring platforms. A recent 3C report demonstrated that during the pandemic, digitally advanced small businesses retained customers 3.2 times better and acquired 20 times more customers than less digitally advanced small businesses.
“When I meet with companies who are exploring moving to or expanding in Alcorn County, questions about our digital mindset come up frequently,” said Clayton Stanley, president of The Alliance for Corinth/Alcorn County. “Small businesses in Corinth figured out how to leverage the abundance of innovative digital tools to operate and grow their business, especially during the pandemic. And that has put us on the site location map.”
Retzlaff hosted a second panel and was joined by Mary Martha Henson, Jackson County Economic Development Foundation, Laura Hipp, Mississippi Development Authority, and Sheffie Robinson, Shamrck, for a conversation about the digital workforce in Mississippi.
The median tech wage in Mississippi is almost $65,000, which is over 80 percent higher than the median wage. Additionally, Mississippi has over 3,000 tech businesses, and that sector has a direct impact of $3.8 billion on the state. At the beginning of this year, tech workers in Mississippi numbered over 45,000.
Laura Hipp, interim executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, focused on jobs. “The goal of MDA is to create next-generation skilled jobs for our hard-working Mississippians through growth at our existing companies and by recruiting new businesses. Digital technology goes hand in hand with our vision for a skilled workforce,” expressed Hipp. “All of our industry programs demand a workforce ready not only for today’s technology but also for future technologies. We are excited to help businesses learn about our successes.”
Mary Martha Henson of the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation echoed the excitement around the technology workforce in Mississippi. “We are at a key junction, and I see us rapidly expanding our technology workforce across the state and locally,” said Henson. “In Jackson County, we are a partner on exciting projects in shipbuilding, aerospace, petrochemical, and research and development. All of these need employees that are technology driven.”
To view a recording of the webinar, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6UcpYr_uHY