February 7, 2019
Batesville, Mississippi – The Mississippi Economic Development Council (MEDC) announced that the SPARK Program/Industrial Manufacturing Education Program won the 2018 Community Economic Development Award (CEDA) on February 7, 2019.
The CEDA program is a “Best Practices” program intended to recognize exceptional contributions of communities in the State of Mississippi for the following efforts: business retention & expansion, business recruitment, community development and community involvement.
In 2017, Panola Partnership organized area industries to discuss the inadequate workforce issues facing them. As it has become increasingly more difficult to find capable and skilled workers, Dale Hart and the INCA management team created SPARK – a comprehensive program to introduce young people to opportunities available in Panola County, thus creating a continuous workforce pipeline for existing and potential industrial businesses for Panola County.
With overwhelming support and cooperation from South Panola School Superintendent Tim Wilder and the Partnership, SPARK was introduced to Mississippi Department of Education and to local industries and schools. South Panola Schools invested considerably by starting the Industrial Manufacturing Education Program this fall and hiring a dedicated instructor – Mr. Jessey Higdon, who trains the students in the classroom and serves as liaison between the manufacturing environment and the students.
Some students from North Panola and South Panola schools are working part-time with pay in local industries through the SPARK and IME programs. Some industries are offering to pay tuition for appropriate classes at Northwest CC for the students.
Students from these schools will continue to visit local industries to learn about local opportunities available and develop a “spark” in manufacturing careers. There is much more to be developed and implemented SPARK and the IME Program. The continued support of education, industry and local community leaders will ensure Panola County can become a leader in Mississippi for the development and success of our young talent and growth.
To learn more about the SPARK Program/Industrial Manufacturing Education Program please visit our website.