Insights > Mississippi Counties Ready to ACT on workforce development

Mississippi Counties Ready to ACT on workforce development


Like the rest of the country, Mississippi is enjoying record low unemployment. But that can be a double-edged sword. With fewer people searching for jobs, companies looking to hire often find a gap between the quality of worker they need and the quality of those who apply. 

Ten Mississippi counties, with support from Entergy Mississippi, are working to close that gap. Each has graduated from an Entergy-sponsored ‘boot camp’ that trained them to become a certified ACT Work Ready community. The counties join 34 in our Mississippi service area that have already received ACT certification.

So What Is ACT and Why Should I Care?

A community’s workforce can be difficult to quantify, but ACT’s program gives a standardized and trusted way to communicate the skills base in a community with measurable data.  ACT does this through its community-based testing framework for workforce development. Its program equips job seekers, employers and their communities with tools for career alignment and growth.

In turn, our communities get a competitive edge when working to attract new industry or expand existing ones. Communities that are certified as ACT Work Ready show that they have a robust workforce effort in place and are committed to continuous improvement of that group. So…being ACT Work Ready can lead to jobs and growth in your community.

Sounds great! Why didn’t they do this earlier?

Simple economics. Gaining that competitive edge is almost never cheap or easy. Most ACT training sessions take place outside of the southeastern U.S. Counties that want to take part must pony up for travel, lodging, food and training. That can be tough, so to ensure that all our counties had the opportunity to become ACT Work Ready, Entergy Mississippi paid to bring the training here.

What happened next?

We hosted two boot camps:  the first was in May at Northwest Community College and the most recent was in August at Hinds Community College. DeSoto, Jefferson Davis, Montgomery, Quitman, Scott, Smith, Tate, Tallahatchie, Yalobusha and Yazoo all took part. Each could send at least two participants. We also opened the event to our communities that had entered or completed the program before.

By partnering with ACT, we were not only able to substantially reduce the cost for our communities to take part, but also enable them to train more people. It was the best opportunity for our communities with part-time or no economic development leadership to complete the program and take what they learned back home. They’ll now continue the process of certification by implementing testing in their communities to reach the goals set by ACT. It was a win-win for all.

Ed Gardner
Director, Business & Economic Development, Entergy Mississippi