Southern Miss team places third in Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge

Southern Miss team places third in Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi

Students from Mississippi Public Universities had the opportunity to showcase their ideas, creativity and ingenuity as they competed in the inaugural Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge, which was held today at the State Capitol in Jackson. The teams presented solutions to some of Mississippi's most pressing problems and outlined ideas to help reach the goals established by Blueprint Mississippi.

Mississippi Valley State University received the first place award, with the University of Mississippi receiving the second place award and The University of Southern Mississippi receiving the third place award.

The Mississippi Valley State University team developed a plan to create within the local Walmart an academic support center, The Learning Center at Walmart. MVSU students would serve as volunteers who would assist third through eighth grade students with homework, time management, note-taking and test-taking.

The University of Mississippi team focused on establishing in-house pharmacies in the health clinics in rural areas of Mississippi. These rural health clinic in-house pharmacies would benefit medically underserved patients and significantly decrease primary medication non-adherence, which currently has rates as high as 30 percent.

The University of Southern Mississippi team concentrated on promoting and supplementing film industry-specific workforce training programs and providing grants and low interest loans for development of film industry-related infrastructure. This would create jobs in the film industry and bring additional revenue into the state.

The teams competing in the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge statewide competition included:

It Still Takes a Village, Alcorn State UniversityThe Creative Activists, Delta State UniversityMississippi Urban Organics, Jackson State UniversityMississippi Integrated Medical Solutions, Mississippi State UniversityIntelehealth, Mississippi University for WomenBetter Together, Mississippi Valley State UniversityRural Health Clinic In-House Pharmacy, University of MississippiTeam Eagles, University of Southern MississippiOpen to any public university student, the challenge required students to work in teams of three to six members with at least one faculty adviser. The teams were encouraged to enlist the assistance of professionals or alumni that have expertise in the topic the team plans to address or in building a business plan. Student teams from each university competed in competitions held on campus last fall, with the winning team from each campus advancing to the state competition.

Each team developed a business plan, outlined their concept in a tabletop display and presented their ideas to the judges in a brief oral presentation at the State Capitol.

Five business leaders served as the judges for the event. The judges included:

Mary Martha Henson, Executive Director and COO, Mississippi Economic Development CouncilChristi Kilroy, Vice President, Policy, Research and Member Engagement, Mississippi Economic CouncilPatricia McMahon, Vice President and Government Loans Manager, Trustmark National BankCathy Northington, Vice President, Programs and Administration, Mississippi Economic CouncilVickie Powell, Senior Vice President, Foundations, Mississippi Economic CouncilStudents were asked to focus their efforts in support of one of the nine goals identified by Blueprint Mississippi. In 2012, Blueprint Mississippi, an independent cooperative of organizations and leaders conducted an objective review of Mississippi's economic opportunities and recommended actions for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity, identified nine goals to enable a more prosperous, vibrant, and resilient Mississippi, built upon a foundation of economic opportunity for all its citizens.

The nine Blueprint Mississippi goals include:

Increase the Educational Achievement of MississippiansCultivate a More Robust Workforce in MississippiStrengthen and Expand Mississippi's EconomyPromote Health Care as an Economic DriverSupport Mississippi's Creative EconomyContinually Develop the Infrastructure for a Competitive EconomyIncrease Availability of Financial CapitalCultivate Diversity, Community Cooperation and Racial ReconciliationImprove Communication and Coordination Among Public, Private and Non-profit LeadersThe goals of the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge are to encourage students to develop ideas for solving Mississippi's most pressing problems, while learning important lessons about planning, teamwork and presenting ideas.

More information is available on Mississippi Public Universities' website at and will be posted on Twitter @MSPublicUniv.