Hinds CC, partners celebrate Metrocenter Mall project

Posts by tag: economic development

Hinds CC, partners celebrate Metrocenter Mall project
Posted by
03 April

Hinds CC, partners celebrate Metrocenter Mall project

JACKSON – Donning hardhats and wielding sledgehammers, partners in a venture to create a “Comprehensive One-Stop Center” for workforce training and support services celebrated the launch of the project on March 29.

From left, Jackson Councilman Aaron Banks, Councilman De’Keither Stamps, Hinds County Board of Supervisors Mike Morgan, Councilman Charles Tillman, Hinds Board of Trustees President Paul Breazeale, Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Central Mississippi Planning and Development District Workforce Training Director Mary Powers, Mississippi Community College Board President Lee Bush, Hinds County Supervisor Peggy Hobson Calhoun, Hinds Vice President Dr. Chad Stocks, Hinds District Director for Integrated Pathways Dr. Robin Parker, Retro-Metro Managing Partner Leroy Walker, and Hinds Director of Workforce Manufacturing Training David Creel (Hinds Community College/April Garon)

The center will house multiple career-technical and workforce training programs aimed at both high-tech training and middle-skill education along with support services in part of Metrocenter Mall.

The project to redevelop the former Belk and, previously, McRae’s department store into a 189,000-square-foot center for workforce training promises to be a driver of economic development for central Mississippi, speakers said.

“This is a very significant event in the life of Hinds Community College,” said Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse before more than 200 guests at the announcement held inside the old store space. “It’s taken so many people to help bring this together.”

At the top of the list, Muse credited the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District and the Hinds County Board of Supervisors.

“It’s a collaboration between a lot of different agencies as well as community helpers,” Muse said. “A person no longer has to spend a lot of time trying to find agencies to help them get a job or be trained for a job. It’ll be right here. It’s going to be a wonderful economic development opportunity for our area, and it’ll serve 17 counties in this area of the state.”

The center would encompass now vacant space on both floors of the southeast end of Metrocenter mall that formerly housed bustling retail shops. The bottom floor will include an event area and programs for metal fab machining and welding. The top floor would include the bulk of the offices for all the partners and more classrooms, including those for mechatronics, robotics and 3D design.

Hinds would administer the center on behalf of all the partners, which includes multiple government agencies and private partners.

“None of this would be possible today without the support of the partners you’ve heard about,” said Dr. Chad Stocks, vice president for Career and Technical Education and Workforce Development, who thanked members of the partnership for exploring other venues in the Southeast during nearly two years of planning leading up to the announcement.

“The vision has always been there, and it’s given us an opportunity to repurpose this store, where the old arcade games will probably turn into simulators. Today, it’s not enough to get a job. You’ve got to get a skill for high-wage jobs and good careers,” he said.

Dr. Robin Parker, district director of Integrated Pathways at Hinds Community College, speaks to those gathered for the public announcement of the Comprehensive One-Stop Center at the former Belk department store at Metrocenter Mall in south Jackson. (Hinds Community College/April Garon)

Hinds County is allocating .92 mills of property taxes annually, or about $1.6 million, for the college’s share of the money to fund the operation. The center will not only be financially self-supporting through millage and external grant funding, but it also has the potential to increase enrollment by tapping into an unserved population of students.

Mike Morgan, president of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors, dreamed of a large sign that says “Hinds Community College” at the entrance. “What are people going to think when they see that sign? They’re going to think education; they’re going to think training,” he said.

The center also will have classrooms for MIBEST, a community college program that teaches adult students without a high school diploma both academic and technical skills so they will be job ready.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the project “checks so many boxes” for bringing south Jackson back to life. “There’s no reason for Highway 18 and Highway 80 to not look like Lakeland Drive.

“There was a day and time where you had people waiting for jobs,” Lumumba said. “Now, we have arrived at a point where we have jobs waiting for people.”

The center’s focus will also be on other workforce-related and support services for those students, such as job search, workshops, assistance with unemployment insurance benefits, funding to pay for career tech training, on-the-job training opportunities, TANF/ SNAP, Vocational Rehabilitation and others.

Officials who spoke at the ceremony, which capped off by having each take a sledgehammer to a wall that once divided parts of the old store, lauded the efforts of CMPDD, a key economic development agency for the region, for helping kick-start the project.

“For probably the first time in the history of workforce, we all came together with a common purpose in mind,” said Mary Powers, workforce director for the agency. “It was to develop a plan that would provide all of our services in concert together to meet the need of people and the businesses.

From left, Retro Metro Managing Partner Leroy Walker, Central Mississippi Planning and Development District Workforce Training Director Mary Powers, Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse, Central Mississippi Planning and Development District Executive Director Mike Monk (Hinds Community College/April Garon)

“People will be able to get the services they need, the training they need and the skills they need to walk out the door with a job. And they’ll get all those services in the same place,” she said.

Once started, renovation is expected to take about six months.

“We’ve got to make the community better by having skilled workers in our community. That’s why we’re investing our money, our time and our resources in this effort,” said Leroy Walker, managing partner of Retro-Metro, which owns the space and will lease it to Hinds.

Walker said a revitalized mall with workforce development as its focus will be a “generator” for economic development in the area around the former retail mecca where highways 80 and 18 essentially meet.

The college’s administrative functions for MIBEST, Adult Basic Education, the Early Childhood Academy and career-tech programs related to manufacturing could be moved to the One-Stop Center in the future to support the initiative.

Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse, with one of the sledgehammers used to signify the start of renovations for the Comprehensive One-Stop Center in the former Belk department store at Metrocenter Mall. (Hinds Community College/April Garon)

“To put this in perspective, the workforce training and student service area equates to three football fields of space,” said Dr. Robin Parker, District Director of Integrated Pathways, which involves programs such as MIBEST that links high school and college credentials with job-training. “Throughout the process of working on this project, we have heard so many Metrocenter stories. We are thrilled to be a part of writing the next chapter.”


03 April, 2018 News more
Hinds CC a key player in Warren County’s drive to become certified Work-Ready
Posted by
14 December

Hinds CC a key player in Warren County’s drive to become certified Work-Ready

VICKSBURG – Economic development in Vicksburg and Warren County in 2018 and beyond could hinge on an effort to become certified a Work-Ready Community by the nation’s premier academic testing standard.

Earlier this year, employers in the Hinds Community College attendance district agreed in principle to begin recognizing the National Career Readiness Certificate and have their respective counties certified as an ACT Work Ready Community. The national credential is a portable, industry-recognized standard of achievement that identifies proficiency in three key areas for landing jobs of today – reading for information, applied math and locating information. The national initiative is headed up by ACT, the nation’s leading college admissions testing company. Hinds administers the NCRC exam to Adult Basic Education and Career-Technical Education students as well as to current employees from industry partners.

Dr. Robin Parker, assistant dean for Career and Technical Education, speaks before the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce about the ACT Work-Ready Community effort during a luncheon Dec. 13, 2017. (Hinds Community College/Tammi Bowles)

On Wednesday, members of the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce heard of the potential pluses of adopting tangible assessments for hiring employees from college officials and industries using it or thinking seriously about using it.

“You know when you enter a new city or county and see the signs that say ‘certified retirement community?’,” said Dr. Robin Parker, assistant dean for Career and Technical Education at Hinds, asked chamber members during a program and panel discussion during the group’s monthly luncheon. “Well, we want a sign in Warren County that when someone drives in, they say, ‘This community values work and has a group of people that’s ready to do what’s best for the community.’”

Issued at four levels – bronze, silver, gold, and platinum – the NCRC helps take the guesswork out of hiring, training, and promotion decisions. WIN Job Centers in Hinds, Warren, Rankin and Claiborne counties, as well as in Madison County, administer it to clients in each community who are applying for jobs.

“This can be very beneficial toward your recruiting purposes and retention goals,” said Pablo Diaz, executive director of the Warren County Port Commission, to chamber members. The commission is among several partners on the effort in central Mississippi.

Pablo Diaz, left, executive director of the Warren County Port Commission, speaks before the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce during a luncheon Dec. 13, 2017. Seated for the discussion, which dealt with ACT Work-Ready Community efforts, are, from left, Carl Hearn, quality manager at Batesville Casket, Maggie Cane, human resource manager at International Paper, and Dr. Robin Parker. (Hinds Community College/Tammi Bowles)

“But, I want you to think about this, too – this will be a standard that any community’s going to be held up to in terms of economic development projects,” Diaz said. “We are going to be asked, ‘Are you a certified community?’ And if you say no, then for a potential project it means we don’t have the data on the workforce to demonstrate how good or not good they are.”

Panelists for the luncheon included human resources professionals with companies using or thinking about using the NCRC in their hiring process. They, along with Parker, fielded questions about the test from chamber members, many of whom run their own small businesses or hold positions involved in making hiring decisions.

14 December, 2017 News more
Retiring Hinds CC Vice President Woods: ‘It has been a great ride’
Posted by
15 June

Retiring Hinds CC Vice President Woods: ‘It has been a great ride’

After a long career in fostering economic development in Mississippi, especially through his work at Hinds Community College, [tweetable alt=””]Vice President Dr. John Woods of Clinton is retiring on June 30.[/tweetable]

“It has been a wonderful opportunity to be a member of this college’s family,” said Woods, vice president for Economic Development and Training.

Dr. John Woods is speaking at a April 19 Mississippi River Transportation, Distribution and Logistic Consortium meeting held at Eagle Ridge Conference Center.

Dr. John Woods is speaking at a April 19 Mississippi River Transportation, Distribution and Logistic Consortium meeting held at Eagle Ridge Conference Center.

Dr. Chad Stocks, vice president for Workforce Development, will assume Woods’ duties. Stocks also leads all workforce training, career-technical education and adult education efforts.

“In the early years of our workforce division, Dr. Woods brought a level of workforce knowledge and expertise to the college that helped to established Hinds as an institution that understood the needs of business and industry. His contribution to the successful opening of the Nissan plant in Canton, and more recently the Mississippi River Consortium in Vicksburg, are among the largest projects that he directed,” said Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse.

Woods arrived at Hinds in 1991 but even before that he worked with the college’s workforce efforts when he was employed at Mississippi State University. He retires with 34 years of total service to the State of Mississippi and is the longest serving workforce specialist currently in the state.

“We will definitely miss his leadership. It has been a great experience to work for him and with him while at Hinds,” said Jim Harper, director of the Small Business Development Center.

Woods is also the longest serving vice president of Economic Development and Training at the college and overseer of Eagle Ridge Conference Center, still a cornerstone meeting facility in the state.

“Dr. Woods has been a great asset to our division at Hinds,” said Peggy Lofton, director of Eagle Ridge Conference Center. “He has always been very supportive of what we do to make our business run smoothly. He has truly taught me to be a better leader, and for that I am thankful.”

Under Woods’ leadership, the Eagle Ridge Conference Center has been a centerpiece for some of the college’s most important efforts and most prestigious events. The facility has drawn national organizations and state leaders to its doors because of its unique setting and capable staff.

The Professional Development Institute (PDI) is another important aspect of Woods’ division. That program is the in-house foundation for training Hinds employees and provides a wide array of personal and work-related programs. In addition, his division oversees the awarding of continuing education certificates (CEUs) for local school districts and other professional organizations.

Among his colleagues, Woods is recognized as a prolific writer and avid outdoorsman. Visitors to his Eagle Ridge office have been able to see an eclectic assortment of memorabilia that reflects his diverse interests and talents.

Among his recent accomplishments are the refurbishment of the Eagle Ridge Challenge Course and the institution of the River Barge Deckhand Training project in Vicksburg.web_John Woods

“Along the way there were many successes, some failures, a few revelations and disappointments. It has been a great ride,” Woods said.

As Mississippi’s largest community college, Hinds Community College is a comprehensive institution offering quality, affordable educational opportunities with more than 170 academic, career and technical programs. With six locations in central Mississippi, Hinds enrolled nearly 12,000 credit students in fall 2015. To learn more, visit or call 1.800.HindsCC.

15 June, 2016 News more