Leaders from ten Mississippi counties recently completed Entergy Mississippi-sponsored ACT “bootcamps” that provided the training needed for their counties to become certified ACT Work Ready communities.
The ACT program seeks to close the skills gap through workforce development, giving communities that are ACT-certified an edge when competing for new or expanding business.
“Like the rest of the country, Mississippi is enjoying record low unemployment. The downside is that we often struggle to quantify the skill level of our workers when companies are looking to locate here or expand,” said Ed Gardner, Entergy Mississippi director of business and economic development. “An ACT Work Ready certification quantifies that individuals have base skill levels. It also shows that the community has a robust workforce effort in place and is committed to continuous improvement of that group.”
That competitive edge doesn’t come cheaply or easily, though. Most ACT training sessions are outside of the southeast, making it costly for communities to take part. Thirty-four of the 45 counties in Entergy’s service area are program participants. To ensure all 45 counties had the opportunity to become ACT Work Ready, Entergy Mississippi paid to bring the training here. The first bootcamp took place in May in Senatobia. The last one took place in August in Pearl. Each participating community was able to send a minimum of two representatives. Participating counties were DeSoto, Jefferson Davis, Montgomery, Quitman, Scott, Smith, Tate, Tallahatchie, Yalobusha and Yazoo. The event was also open to interested communities that had previously entered or completed the program.
“Working with ACT, we were able to substantially reduce the cost for our communities to take part and enable them to bring more stakeholders,” said Gardner. “This was the best opportunity for our rural communities with part-time or no economic development leadership to complete the program and take this information back for implementation.”
A critical marker for business growth is the talent pipeline. Entergy Mississippi is committed to building the region’s economy and creating an environment where businesses want to locate and employees want to live.
Entergy Mississippi, LLC provides electricity to approximately 450,000 customers in 45 counties. Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and nearly 13,700 employees.