Cities Get MAJIC Touch

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Gov. Haley Barbour came to Meridian to announce a new plan to create small business jobs in east Mississippi and statewide.

The program is called "MAJIC", which stands for Make a Job Impact Center. Three will be located in east Mississippi.

"Make a Job Impact Centers will be opened in 11 communities around the state. The purpose is to assist small businesses, entrepreneurs, in creating jobs rather than take a job. And to make jobs for their fellow citizens in the community. One of three will be in Meridian, one in Philadelphia and one will be in Carthage," said Barbour.

The East Mississippi Business Development Center is the recipient in Meridian. The amount is about $25,000. The city of Philadelphia will receive a $15,000 grant and Leake County Industrial Development Association will be funded over $8,000.

William Hatcher of the Jump Start Center at Meridian Community College, who is credited with the idea, said he is pleased with the plan.

"To me, in the short time that we've really been working on this, I see it as having the potential of totally revolutionizing the state as far as entrepreneurship goes," Hatcher said.

Mayor Rayburn Waddell of Philadelphia also praised the idea.

"We already have a good industry base in Philadelphia and we just thank the governor for seeing the need to put something in Philadelphia, with resources to help us develop new jobs up there," said Mayor Waddell.

Various types of job training will be offered, from how to establish commercial food kitchens at the Meridian center to forest products and plaining mills at others.

Meanwhile, some of the state's top CEOs say Mississippi should try to recruit high-tech entrepreneurs and startup businesses. It was outlined in a plan called "Blueprint Mississippi."

The plan came from research that started last October. It highlights the importance of image building and public-private partnerships. It also ranked Mississippi among the 12 Southern states in several categories.

The Blueprint urged the state to spend more on early childhood education. Mississippi currently doesn't spend money on pre-kindergarten programs.

Barbour said Mississippi's economy is improving and the state is winning praise for passing comprehensive laws to limit lawsuits.

Bill Yates of Yates Construction was the point man on Blueprint Mississippi, but the leaders of Trustmark Bank, BancorpSouth, Entergy, the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi also were involved in the effort.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.