September 15, 2014 Rotogram: 10

Getting to Know Max

Sixteen-year-old Rotary Youth Exchange student Max Garzoni from Milan, Italy, will tell us of himself, his family and his country. Grant Arinder will introduce him.

Next Week: The Cotton Mill

Mark Castleberry of Castle Properties, Inc. in Columbus will update us on the Cotton Mill Project on Russell Street. Carey Hardin will introduce him.

For the Record— September 8

  • Invocation and pledge: Giles Lindley
  • Attendance: 67.8%
    • Present — 101 (42 exempt, 1 honorary)
    • Absent — 78 (16 exempt, 10 honorary)
  • Makeup reported: Micah Huffman.
  • Guests: Visiting Rotarian was Jimmy McCluskey. Member guests were Chuck Bently of Don Trotter, Jeremy Nicholas of Grant Arinder, Will Robbins of Brad Jones and Rebecca Tabb of Cory Lucius. Guests of the club were Denny Daniels, Max Garzoni, RYE student, and Stephen Nalley, Starkville Daily News.

Meet Justin Suber

C-Spire’s local market manager is one of our newest members.

“After seven years in the food and beverage industry, my first C-Spire store was in Greenwood,” he said. “And, let me tell you, I’m proud to be in Starkville.”

The Holly Bluff (between Rolling Fork and Yazoo City) native joined the Marine Corps Reserves after graduating from Yazoo County High. There he became interested in radio communication.

He attended Mississippi Delta Community College where he met his wife-to-be Ashley. She is a Delta State grad who is a Sudduth kindergarten teacher.

Charity Stripe Pledges

Outstanding Charity Stripe pledges need to be cleared since the club will be sending $4,000 for polio eradication to the Rotary Foundation soon. Last week, the board authorized the treasurer to add any member’s outstanding pledge to his/her bill.

Meeting Notes

  • President Michelle welcomed Martin Lifer to his first meeting as a member.
  • She noted that Lloyd Rose’s wife Lynn had emergency arm surgery due to a fall.
  • The Public Relations Committee is planning an awareness campaign for World Polio Day, October 24..
  • Acknowledging that it’s more than two months away, President Michelle reminded members that we already are signed up to ring the Salvation Army Christmas bell on December 4 and 6.
  • The club was well represented at the Habitat for Humanity work day.

District Matching Gifts Campaign

You can become a Paul Harris Fellow more quickly with dollar-for-dollar district matching points. District 6820 can match the first $50,000 in donations received by October 15, 2014. Submit a note asking for a match of your Annual Fund donation to:

Barry Jones, Foundation Committee Chair
Rotary District 6820 Matching Program
4450 Old Canton Rd, Suite 210
Jackson, MS 39211

Make personal checks payable to: “Rotary Foundation”


September 8 — The Oktibbeha County/Starkville economy is a contradiction.

“This county has the third highest per capita income in Mississippi. But it also is the third poorest county in the state,” said Raj Shaunak, vice president for Workforce and Community Services at East Mississippi Community College. “We have high skilled professional jobs and we have very low skilled, uneducated folks who do not participate in the economy.”

“I’m a Bulldog for 42 years. It’s great that we have a wonderful university.” said the Mississippi State and Texas A&M educated economist. “But, let me tell you that a lack of adequate job skills dooms thousands in Oktibbeha County to toil in jobs without any hope of advancement.”

Frequently, these job seekers are entry-level workers. But, in the 21st century, requirements have risen dramatically. Workers with higher skills levels now face obsolescence as technological advances in manufacturing and other industries raise the bar on skill requirements.

Contemporary manufacturing is not the 4 D’s — dirty, dangerous, disappearing or for dumb folks. Innovation, entrepreneurship and regional competitiveness must have high skill, high wage jobs that require lifelong learning from “K to Gray.”

21st century skills require critical thinking and problem solving, application of technology to workflow, connections to core subject knowledge, project management, collaboration and teamwork, communication skills, creativity and innovation and adaptability.

Shaunak explained the EMCC Workforce Services mission looks two ways—to businesses and to job seekers. It assures that businesses have the skilled workforce that they need to remain competitive in the global marketplace. And, it assures that job seekers are connected to career paths that lead to family-sustaining jobs

In 1950, one in five jobs required a professional degree. That fact has not changed in 60 years. Another 20 percent required skilled training beyond high school. Today the demand is 65 percent. The drastic drop has occurred in demand for unskilled labor from 60 percent to only 15 percent of jobs accepting less than a high school diploma.
For the lesser skilled laborer, being told to do things no longer is the order of the day. And, he noted that one in five students at EMCC already has a bachelor’s or master’s degree but is retraining for the realities of the workplace.

Shaunak credits American Eurocopter’s 2003 arrival as marking the renewal of advanced manufacturing and innovation in the region. It signaled to other industries that the Golden Triangle is a viable place to do business.

In the past ten years the region has seen a $5.7 billion investment netting 5,600 new jobs. Yokohama Tire is adding 500 jobs in the near future and eventually will account for 2,000 skilled jobs.

A key local problem is that currently only 60 percent of the Oktibbeha workforce is actively seeking work. The Kenyan-born, English educated businessman turned academic economist bemoaned the fact that contemporary society is lacking in the Protestant work ethic.

Shaunak’s prescription is for businesses to get more involved in workforce development. He called for job-shadowing in the workplace at least once a month. And, he reminded us that EMCC’s developing Communiversity is designed to introduce even the youngest people to the realities of the world of work.

Recommended reading: James Fallows interviewed Raj Shaunak in the July 8 edition of The Atlantic.

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