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McCoy stresses importance of jobs, education

WESSON – Speaker of the House Billy McCoy stressed theimportance of education and jobs Monday while speaking withstudents participating in Copiah-Lincoln Community College’sWorkforce Investment Act (WIA) program.

While recalling experiences in his 25 years in the House, McCoysaid people in the state want jobs and understand the need to havethe necessary skills to be able to hold a job.

“We have to be able to compete nationwide and worldwide,” saidMcCoy, D-Rienzi.

One challenge facing Mississippi and the rest of the country iscompanies that are able to produce goods abroad and import themcheaper than they can produce them in the U.S.

“We have to work smarter and better than people who are able todo that,” McCoy said.

McCoy said Gov. Haley Barbour, lawmakers and other stateofficials campaigned on the importance of education and jobs forcitizens. He indicated it is time for officials to fulfill thosepromises.

“We must produce for you,” said McCoy, adding that leaders areworking at all levels to have the best vocational and technicalprograms available.

WIA is a federal program that enables students to learn workskills and get training while attending college. There are about 40Co-Lin students in the school’s WIA program.

Rep. Randy “Bubba” Pierce, chairman of the House EducationCommittee, and Dist. 18 Sen. Gloria Williamson accompanied McCoy onthe trip to Co-Lin.

Pierce touted the importance of developing a good work ethic andgetting an education. He encouraged to find their niche’ and to notbe deterred in pursuing their life’s goals.

“Do not let someone else determine your destiny,” Pierce toldstudents.

Following the WIA luncheon, Co-Lin President Dr. Howell Garnergave the lawmakers a brief tour of the Wesson campus.

McCoy continued his theme of jobs and education. He saidofficials are working to identify opportunities where businessesand industries can make a profit in the state.

“If they can make a profit, then they’re going to employ ourcitizens,” McCoy said.

He also touched on the importance of workforce training.

“Workforce development involves everybody,” McCoy said.

One area of interest to Co-Lin and other community colleges ispending legislation that would streamline and combine federal andstate workforce development initiatives in Mississippi. Thelegislation, proposed by Barbour, would increase communitycolleges’ roles in the delivery of those services.

“We would be the central point of contact for both companies andindividuals,” said Dr. Billy Stewart, Co-Lin’s dean of communityservices.

Stewart said the legislation would merge approximately $40million in federal funds and $12 million in state funds for thetraining purposes. The Senate has passed its version of the billand the House version is on the chamber’s calendar.

“We’re waiting to see the final versions of the bills and howthey’re hammered out,” Stewart said.

McCoy sounded optimistic about the workforce legislation’schances.

“In some way, I feel like it’s going to become a reality,” McCoysaid.

Garner applauded McCoy’s service in the House, which hasincluded time as Ways and Means Committee chairman and as EducationCommittee chairman. Garner said McCoy is the man who “makeseducation happen in Mississippi.”

“We’re looking to him to continue to help us in education, and Ifeel like he will,” Garner said.