ACT Boot Camp

Leaders from 10 Mississippi counties, including DeSoto County, are preparing their communities for economic growth. The group includes Bryant Henley, Business Development Specialist for DeSoto Council Economic Development; Allyson Killough, Principal at Career Tech Center West, and Beth Turner, CTE District Coordinator at DeSoto County Schools.

Leaders from ten Mississippi counties, including DeSoto County, recently completed Entergy Mississippi-sponsored ACT “boot camps” that provided the training needed for their counties to become certified ACT Work Ready communities. 

The ACT program seeks to close the skills gap through workforce development, giving communities that are ACT-certified an edge when competing for new or expanding business.

Those who took part from DeSoto County were Bryant Henley, Business Development Specialist for DeSoto Council Economic Development; Allyson Killough, Principal at Career Tech Center West, and Beth Turner, CTE District Coordinator at DeSoto County Schools.

“Like the rest of the country, Mississippi is enjoying record low unemployment. The downside is that we often struggle to quantify the skill level of our workers when companies are looking to locate here or expand,” said Ed Gardner, Entergy Mississippi director of business and economic development. “An ACT Work Ready certification quantifies that individuals have base skill levels. It also shows that the community has a robust workforce effort in place and is committed to continuous improvement of that group.”

That competitive edge doesn’t come cheaply or easily, though. Most ACT training sessions are outside of the southeastern U.S., making it costly for communities to take part.

Thirty-four of the 45 counties in Entergy’s service area are program participants. To ensure all 45 counties had the opportunity to become ACT Work Ready, Entergy Mississippi paid to bring the training here.

The first boot camp took place in May in Senatobia. The last one took place in August in Pearl. Each participating community was able to send a minimum of two representatives.

Other participating counties were Jefferson Davis, Montgomery, Quitman, Scott, Smith, Tate, Tallahatchie, Yalobusha and Yazoo. The event was also open to interested communities that had previously entered or completed the program.

“Working with ACT, we were able to substantially reduce the cost for our communities to take part and enable them to bring more stakeholders,” said Gardner. “This was the best opportunity for our rural communities with part-time or no economic development leadership to complete the program and take this information back for implementation.”

A critical marker for business growth is the talent pipeline. Entergy Mississippi is committed to building the region’s economy and creating an environment where businesses want to locate and employees want to live.