August 20, 2007 Rotogram

GOVERNOR JACK’S “OFFICIAL” VISIT

One of the responsibilities of a District Governor is to carry the message of the Rotary International President to every club in his district. That’s what fellow Rotarian Jack Forbus has been doing these past weeks. Today, he doesn’t have to travel far as he shares the message of Rotary and shares with us his plans for District 6820 in this Rotary year. Welcome home, Governor Jack.

A CLOSER LOOK AT MISSISSIPPI’S ECONOMY

Our guest next Monday will be State Economist Phil Pepper, who is also assistant commissioner for research and planning for the IHL Board. David Thornell will introduce the program.

LAST WEEK AT ROTARY

Invocation and Pledge: Andy Gaston.

Attendance: We had a full house last week – there were 140 members (95 active, 43 exempt, 2 honorary) present and 39 active, 11 exempt, and 8 honorary members missing. Two active members are on leave.

Guests: Guests of members included Archie Anderson of Tommy Tomlinson; Bobby Eiland of Jeff Read; David Jackson of Andy Gaston; and Ted Roman of George Sherman. Club guests were Exchange Students Maryna Melnik (Belarus) and Negrita Caicedo (Ecuador); Tori Ferguson our RYE student going to Ecuador; former RYE Student Allison Noffsinger; Paul Sims (Starkville Daily News); and Skip Descant (Commercial Dispatch). They were introduced by Vice President Chip Templeton.

Makeups: Martha Ray Sartor made up in Ripley July 7; Mike Hainsey and Trey Breckenridge made up in West Point Aug. 1; Matt Cox made up on line; Gary D. Jackson logged makeups in Eupora, Winona, Kosciusko, and Ackerman; Jack Forbus paid official visits to Jackson, Gluckstadt, and North Jackson.

Meeting Notes: Susan Gamel announced that Rotary is participating in the annual “Get Swept Up Starkville” August 29. She urged Rotarians to sign up to help clean up the community prior to the Aug. 30 MSU-LSU football game.

President Ned Browning called meetings of the Membership and Fall Social Committees and reminded officers and directors of the August board meeting Tuesday.

Rotary Minute: Martha Wells gave a brief history of the Rotary Youth Exchange program, which had its beginnings in Europe and was adopted by Rotary International in 1972. The program for high school students 15 to 19 years of age “is the most unique and least expensive educational exchange program because students live with host families and have no living expenses.”

We are the only club in District 6820 currently involved in youth exchange. Counting this year’s students, our club has hosted 12 students and sent 8 students to other countries in the past 11 years.

“We as Rotarians, host families, classmates in school, and others in our community benefit from youth exchange as much as do the students,” she said.

Roy Ruby came through with his usual gem for the “Absolutely Nothing to Do About Rotary” minute.

ALLISON NAMED AMBASSADORIAL SCHOLAR

Bill Parrish announced that Allison Noffsinger of Starkville has been awarded a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship by District 6820. Alli is a Starkville High School graduate who was our Rotary Youth Exchange student in Peru 4 years ago. Speaking briefly, Alli said she will graduate from Western Kentucky University next May. If Rotary Foundation approves, she plans to enroll in Fall 2008 at American University in Cairo, Egypt. “ My year as a Rotary Exchange student changed my life. Rotary has become like a global family to me.”

This is the second consecutive year that our Club’s candidate for the Ambassadorial Scholarship has been selected to represent District 6820. Thanks to Bill Parrish and his committee and congratulations to Allison.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN MISSISSIPPI

Gray Swoope, Executive Director of Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) is high on Mississippi and especially enthusiastic about the Golden Triangle.

“I’m back in home country,” said the West Point native who earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Mississippi State.

Economic development is a team sport. Success depends on many different entities and individuals. “I’m pleased to see two legislators here today, Gary Chism and Gary Jackson. They are team players in the Mississippi Legislature. MDA has a motivated and hard-working staff. David Thornell and the Partnership are great partners,” Swoope said.

The economic development “team” has a great coach in Haley Barbour. “Other states don’t have a governor as intensively involved,” Swoope said citing several examples of Gov. Barbour’s deep involvement in economic development.

“We’re doing well in Mississippi. We have more people employed (1.6 million non-farm). These aren’t just jobs – they are better paying jobs,” he said. “Personal incomes have risen 16 percent over the past 3 years.”

He said a 22-page section in a recent issue of Forbes Magazine has triggered increased interest in the state by industries at home and abroad. “Can Mississippi compete? Absolutely!”

Two major clusters are undergoing rapid global growth – the automobile industry and aero-space/aviation. “Mississippi has skilled workers; we are globally competitive.”

He said that on February 21, Nissan set a new record, producing one million automobiles in just 4 years. A week later, Toyota announced that it will build a $1.3 billion plant near Tupelo. On May 11, construction of a $400 million plant for Peterbilt to build its own diesel engines at a site just north of the airport was announced by PACARR.

“Last week, I saw the launch of the space shuttle – it was awesome, the engineering is phenomenal. Our own Stennis Space Center played an important role in that program. On August 23, a new testing stand for the Aries Rocket engines will be completed.” He said the Center has 1,700 NASA employees and 4,100 other workers and the average annual wage is $75,000.

He pointed to. EADS (American Eurocopter) and Aurora Flight Sciences at GTR as further proof that our state can compete in aerospace and aviation.

There’s a great economic transformation going on that ties directly to GTR and MSU.

Swoope said there are four key areas to keep in mind for continued economic development in Starkville and Oktibbeha County.

1. Continue to work regionally. How do the community and the Partnership fit? Economic develop-ment starts with the business community.

2. Concentrate on asset development. “Take your assets – both God-given and man-made and maximize their use.” He said the vast deposit of lignite coal is an example of a God-given asset that will become more and more important as an energy resource. The University is a man-made asset that is critical in the mix. PACARR recognized this with a recent $2 million grant to MSU.

3. On the entrepreneurial side, we need to develop research results into local entrepreneurial businesses.

4. The livability of this community will be of increasing importance. As businesses and industries come to the region, workers can choose to live anywhere. “Work hard to make sure our community is rich in resources for living.

“As you continue to move forward, keep these four areas in mind,” he concluded.

“MDA’s mission is to change lives and change minds. You have the potential to improve the quality of life, to change lives, and to change perceptions of Mississippi. We look forward to working with you.”

The speaker was introduced by David Thornell, who said he’d known Swoope for 20 years, and had worked with him most recently when he served as president of the Area Development Partnership in Hattiesburg. Swoope became MDA Director in 2004.

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