Tag Archives: Stennis Institute of Government

Thank you Stennis Institute and Mississippi State University

Thank you Stennis Institute and Mississippi State University for the wonderful retirement luncheon and for the opportunity to serve in this capacity for 11 years. Very much appreciated. My wish for y’all is very simple – Go dawgs!

Education is the key to economic development

ARTICLE – MSU’s Stennis Institute Assists Schools (2-27-2013)

Education is the key to economic development. Industries need problem-solvers: educated, trainable workers who can go above and beyond classroom instruction.

Strategic planner Phil Hardwick has seen it time and again in his work as a project manager with Mississippi State University’s John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development. Over the past three years, he’s worked with 13 Northeast Mississippi schools to increase the numbers of students admitted to college.  More…

Appalachian Higher Education Bus Tour Visits Alabama and Mississippi


This past week I had the opportunity to accompany the 2012 Appalachian Bus Tour on its visits to Corinth High School, East Mississippi Community College, Bevill State Community College and Louisville High School.  Below are links to a couple of news stories about the tour and why it came to this region.

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — Monday, Mississippi became the focus of educators from eight other states. They came here to find out what certain school districts are doing to put more students in college.
(includes video)

APNews – Daily Corinthian –  A group of over 60 education professionals from around the Appalachian region visited Corinth High School on Monday to learn more about the school s success in preparing students for college.

The group of educators were part of the Appalachian Higher Education Network s annual bus tour, a three-day trip to schools in Alabama and Mississippi with a spotlight on college access programs. Educators on the tour hailed from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.


House Speaker Philip Gunn to address Mar. 19 Stennis-Capitol Press Forum

Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives Philip Gunn will address the March 19 Forum.

Since 2004 he has been a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, serving on the Judiciary, Juvenile Justice, Conservation, and Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks Committees. He chairs the House Republican Conference and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Mississippi Republican Party.

In addition to his legal and public service careers, Philip is actively involved in his church and in community organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He is a former member of the Clinton School Board and is currently a Trustee of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

He earned a B.B.A. from Baylor University and the J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he was elected Student Body President.

Winston County Mississippi Scholars Recognized

(May 6, 2011) Thirty-five Mississippi Scholars from Winston County were recognized Thursday evening at a banquet in Louisville. At the event students announced which colleges or universities they planned to attend and what their major course of study would be. Louisville Mayor Will Hill welcomed the students and challenged them to represent their communities well as they go out into the world. Mary Snow, emceed the program and represented the local business community and Phil Hardwick of The Stennis Institute was the keynote speaker.

The celebration was just one of the outcomes of the “Getcha Head in the Game,” a project of the Louisville Municipal School District, the Winston County Economic Development Partnership and The Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University. “Getcha Head in the Game” is a program of the Mississippi Higher Education Initiative (MSHEI), which is funded through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

The Mississippi Scholars program requires students to take four English courses, four upper level mathematics courses, four science courses, four social studies, one art, two advance electives like foreign languages, 20 hours of community service, 2.5 grade point average and 95 percent school attendance. It began as a national program to utilize business leaders to motivate students to complete a more challenging course of study in high school.

Follow me to D.C. – Day 3

(Following the Stennis-Montgomery Association annual trip to Washington, D.C.) – Thursday was another busy day. First on the agenda was a viewing and discussion of the famous desk in Senator Stennis’ office. The following excerpt from then-Senator Joe Biden’s Farewell Speech to the Senate provides elucidation:

Senator Stennis …

“looked at me and said, “Joe, do you remember the first time you came to see me?” And I hadn’t. He said, I asked you. And I told my friend from Mississippi this story before as he walks through the floor about Senator Stennis. I asked — he asked me, “Do you remember?” I said, “No, I don’t.” And he said, “I asked you why you ran for the Senate?” And I said, “Oh I remember.” As a smart young fellow, wouldn’t I? And he looked at me and said — he said “Y’all going to take my office, aren’t you Joe?” And he caressed that table (inaudible) family members — the table he loved so much — he caressed it like it was an animate object. He said, “You’re going to take my office.” and I said, “Yes sir, I am.”

He said, “Well I wanted to tell you then, in 1970, what I’m going to tell you now. He said, “This table here was the flagship of the Confederacy.”

BIDEN: If you read “Masters of the Senate” about Johnson’s term, you’ll see in the middle of the book a picture of the table in my office, with the famous old southern segregationist senators sitting around that table, chaired by Senator Russell. And he said, “This was the flagship of the Confederacy. Every Tuesday we gathered here under Senator Russell’s direction to plan the demise of the civil rights movement, from 1954 to 1968.” He said, “It’s time this table passes from the man who was against civil rights into the hands of a man who was for civil rights.”

And I found it genuinely, without exaggeration, moving. We talked a few more minutes, and I got up and I got to the door, and he turned to me in that wheelchair, Thad, and he said, “One more thing, Joe.” He said, “The civil rights movement did more — more to free the white man than the black man.”

I looked at him, I said, “Mr. Chairman, how’s that?”

And probably Thad will only remember as well as I do, he went like this. He said, “It freed my soul. It freed my soul.”

Students then moved to the Russell Office Building for a lobbyists panel that included representatives from Macon Edwards Company, EADS, Deloitte & Touche and Delta Strategy Group. The message from the lobbyists was that effectiveness in the political and government relations world is built on relationships and trust.

Lunch was served in an elegant 5th floor dining room at the Reserve Officers Association looking out at the Capitol. The view was stunning in spite of the cold drizzle outside. Students were treated to remarks by Seantors Cochran and Wicker and Congressman Gregg Harper. Also at the luncheon were a dozen staff members representing Mississippi’s Congressional delegation.

After lunch the group was led on a special tour of the Capitol by members of the Capitol Historical Society.

The final presenter of the day was Jessica Grounds, Executive Director of Running Start, a nonprofit organization founded to inspire young women and girls to political leadership. Running Start furthers the work begun by the Women Under Forty Political Action Committee (WUFPAC). WUFPAC is a national women’s group dedicated to electing young women to political office.

Day 2 in D.C., Post 2

The first stop on a busy day of briefings was the headquarters of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) where Political Director Mike Shields spent over an hour discussing how Republicans won the most recent Congressional election and how he personally got involved in politics.  He outlined the role and purpose of NRCC, explaining that it was the political organization of House republicans, and that its mission was to keep Republicans in the majority.  He told his personal story of how he first got interested in political activism as a youth growing up in the U.K. where his father was assigned as a NATO employee.  The issue was American nuclear weapons are U.S. bases.  He said that, “Political issues were our dinner table issues.”  Shields attended college in the D.C. and related his personal  story of climbing the ladder in politics.  He pointed out that at age 41 he is the oldest staffer at the NRCC.  There was plenty of Q & A with the SMA students.  Notes from the meeting were tweeted by yours truly during the meeting, and can be found by going to the Stennis Institute Web site and clicking on the Twitter “T” on the top right of the page.  Also of interest is a Politico article written by Shields entitled, “How the NRCC Won in 2010.”

Next was a chilly walk to the steps of the Capitol for as group photo.  Next to us was Iowa Senator Check Grassley visiting with a group from his state.

From there it was on to 101 Constitution Avenue for a media panel discussion led by Rex Buffington of the Stennis Center for Public Service, and featuring Senator Thad Cochran’s Press Secretary Chris Gallegos and Matt Letourneau, Director of Communications and Media at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Each discussed their backgrounds and the challenges facing those who are the public relations personnel of their organizations, especially in the burgeoning age of social media.

The next presenter was Jessica Knight, Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.  She is a native of Hattiesburg, and attended Millsaps College where she was the first African-American Homecoming Queen.  She provided insight related to fundraising for a political caucus, as well as sharing her background and how she got interested and involved in politics.

By now it was mid-afternoon and time for a ride on the Metro to Foggy Bottom and a visit to The Watergate, where Mississippi State alums Tim and Grace Terpstra hosted the group in their apartment to snacks and a history lesson about the Watergate complex.  Dr. Martin Wiseman of MSU, Dr. Tim Terpstra of George Washington University and Dr. Stephen Gordon of Old Dominion University discussed the political implications of the Watergate break-in, and how the surrounding events have influenced the country’s history.

One of the threads running through the day was that each of the presenters told about their journeys from college student to where they are today.  The Stennis Montgomery Association members thus gained valuable insight and motivation for their own futures.  Looking back on the day, one wonders what it must have taken to put all of this together.  Credit for that task goes to SMA President Grace Craig, who coordinated the entire schedule of presenters and other aspects of the trip.

Grace Craig is a senior English major from Jackson, Mississippi.  Actively involved as a student, she has served as Mississippi State University Student Association Director of City of Starkville Relations.  She interned in Washington, D.C. last summer.  She is interested in a career in economic development, preferably in Mississippi.

Notes from Madison County Business League Economic Symposium

(May 4, 2010)  I had the opportunity today to attend the Economic Symposium 2010: Economic Perspectives for Madison County, which was offered by the Madison County Business League.  Featured presenters were Dr. Phil Pepper, Assistant Commission for Policy Research and Planning for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, Dr. Marty Wiseman, Director of Mississippi State University‘s Stennis Institute of Government and David Altig, Senior Vice President and Director of Research for the Federal Reserve bank of Atlanta.  Here are my rough notes.

Dr. Phil Pepper

Things are good and going to get better for Madison County.

Things are not as good for Mississippi.  Slower growth.  More recessions.

Education is the key.  Counties with population growth have good schools.  “The primary economic development tool for any county is the education level.”

Dr. Marty Wiseman
No county in Mississippi is insulated from the international economy.

Public education is a key to economic development.  Period.

When a municipality has population growth it must keep a constant eye on annexation.

Madison County would be a prime place to have the pro and con discussion on the subject of eliminating the inventory tax.

As long as there is growth there is less need to worry about where local government revenues come from.

David Altig

The labor market is beginning to improve … employers remain reluctant to add payrolls.

Employment took a sizable step up in March.  The demand for workers appears to be improving.

If 200,000 jobs are created every month for the next 12 months it would bring the unemployment rate down by one oerscent.

Consumer spending has surprised to the upside.  Personal income growth, however, has been quite timid.

Spending on equipment and software rose rapidly in the 4th Quarter, and looks to be on a healthy pace in the 1st Quarter.

“Core” capital goods order have been rising.  Housing starts have shown modest improvement from a very low level.

Inventory adjustments are still making an outsize contribution to CDP growth, which is forecast for 2.8% in 2010.

Employment losses have been more severe in the United States than other countries.  Productivity is up in the Untied States; down everywhere else.

Remarks to NE Mississippi Economic Outlook Conference

Yesterday (Jan 20) I had the honor of making a presentation to the Northeast Mississippi Economic Outlook Conference sponsored by the Community Development Foundation.  Below are links to coverage of the event.

But Scott and Hardwick said the jobless figures will ease as the U.S. Census Bureau hires thousands of temporary workers for this year’s count.  In Mississippi’s case, employment overall has been centered in about 10 clusters across the state, Hardwick said. More… (NE Mississippi Daily Journal)

“I’m not really optimistic about revenues increasing, I am impressed with the way that State government is handling this, so far, says Phil Hardwick of the Stennis Institute of Government. More... (WTVA)