Meridian, Miss. The latest class of Leadership Lauderdale, 33 participants, graduated Tuesday, after completing the program sponsored by the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation.
The graduates have spent the last nine months getting to know their community a little bit better and hopefully figuring out ways to help it improve.
"We were able to share, not only what Meridian has to offer from my standpoint of my employment, but how we can partner with others in Meridian to meet those needs of the individuals that we serve." said graduate Mary Atterberry of Multi-County Community Service Agency..
Participants also studied Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And as part of the program, they had to take part in a community enhancement project.
One of the teams this year was able to help secure a million dollar grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation to make streetscape improvements to 5th Street in the African-American Historic District. It will involve new paving, new sidewalks, additional streetscapes and adding trees.
"Hopefully that will get store owners, business owners interested and excited about doing things to their building and bringing it up to date," said graduate Robby Pickett..
And the graduates say they hope this experience will be one that will stay with them for years to come and help them work better in the community in the future.
"It was an opportunity for me to develop a network of some of the community leaders, and learn more about community development in Lauderdale County," said graduate Scotty Elliott.
And economic development officials say they hope that the more people learn, the more they will want to do to make this community better.