Businesses large and small have a new tool at their disposal, the Mississippi College Board hopes will generate jobs and help companies remain competitive. It's called the Mississippi Business Engagement Network.
"A lot of the business leaders are saying, if I needed something from the university they just didn't really know where to tap into it," said Northington.
That's Cathy Northington with the Mississippi Economic Council, which is one of the MBEN partners. She says now businesses can tap into the resources and the latest research available at the state's four public research universities by logging onto www.msben.com. Paul Sumrall is the liaison between the college board and businesses. He says MBEN is a one-stop-portal that links businesses, with faculty and students at Jackson State, Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi.
"It could be very high level research that the company needs in order again to solve a problem or spur growth or it could be something as simple as they need meeting space," said Sumrall.
Northington says the network has a component that helps students obtain internships. The goal is to introduce them to opportunities that can lead to jobs after they graduate and help businesses maintain a qualified workforce.
"A lot of students say 'there's no jobs in Mississippi. There's nothing here.' So, we're losing students. They're getting educated in our colleges and our universities, but a lot of them are leaving because they don't understand what's here," said Northington.
Paul Sumrall says they're working on adding a database of faculty experts and Mississippi's other four public universities to the MBEN network.