Downtown Hattiesburg hosts first Creative Economy Forum

Downtown Hattiesburg hosts first Creative Economy Forum

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Artists, business leaders and economic developers gathered in Hattiesburg Thursday to come up with new ways to grow the economy by using the creative arts.

A Creative Economy Forum was held at the Oddfellows Gallery.

It was a first for Hattiesburg and it was co-sponsored by William Carey University and the Stone County Economic Development Partnership.

It featured several speakers, including Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission.

"(Mississippi) should take great pride in who we are, what our contribution has been and then think about how we can turn that into economic prosperity," White said.

Participants said the goal was to network and exchange ideas.

"It's designed for us to brainstorm about how the arts can help with our economy," said Rebekah Stark Johnson, executive director of the Hattiesburg Arts Council.

A study published in 2010 showed that more than 60,000 people worked in Mississippi's creative economy and it contributed about three percent to the overall Mississippi economy.