Mississippi community colleges, including Hinds, will benefit from a new state workforce bill that Hinds alumnus Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law on March 21.
The new legislation, Senate Bill 2808, establishes the Mississippi Works Fund that is supported by the unemployment taxes currently paid by businesses operating in Mississippi. Those funds have built up a surplus and can be tapped.
The funds will be used to train Mississippi’s workforce, primarily through the state’s 15 community colleges, and to support the state’s industries and businesses. [tweetable alt=””]Hinds CC will tap into the funds to support workforce training projects.[/tweetable]
“These new funds are needed to recruit large economic development projects like Continental Tire to Mississippi. Flexibility and rapid response are essential when industry is on the hunt for a new location,” said Dr. Chad Stocks, vice president for Workforce Development.
Bryant said $10 million will go into the fund this year “for workforce training in our community colleges, IHL (universities) and other departments.
“This is a successful day for Mississippi and for workforce training,” he said. “The leadership decided it was time for us to make a commitment.”
Additionally, under the State Workforce Bill:
- 75 percent of the funds are allocated toward new job creation.
- 25 percent of the funds are allocated for existing workforce and workforce certification.
- The Mississippi Development Authority has the ability to direct funds as part of recruitment and expansion efforts.
“We all know if we’re going to see long-term economic growth we must continue to improve workforce training efforts and, obviously, we’re going to see significant money going into that for a long period of time,” said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves.
A number of workforce and education groups including the Mississippi Economic Council, which functions as the state’s Chamber of Commerce, supported the bill. Blake Wilson, executive director of the MEC, said other states already have “streamlined processes” for getting workforce development funds allocated quickly when a training need surfaces.
Wilson said the legislation will help a company that needs on-the-spot training and will also help community colleges step in and pick up the training effort.
“The Mississippi Works Fund will allow our state to be proactive, rather than reactive, when recruiting new business and industry,” Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough said in a news release from the Governor’s Office.
“A major challenge to economic development is fulfilling specialized workforce needs. This fund allows Mississippi to have the resources readily available to train a quality workforce and aggressively compete to win in the global economy.”
Currently, employers must pay unemployment insurance taxes on a portion of employee wages. Statutorily, the tax rate is between 0.2 percent to 5.4 percent depending on economic activity, such as layoffs or job growth. Under Senate Bill 2808, the minimum tax rate drops to 0.0 percent. The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is actuarially sound, which allows the employers’ tax rate to be lowered.