Appalachian Regional Commission Grant to MSU Will Benefit Youth in Five East Mississippi Counties 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today applauded the award of a $1.49 million grant for Mississippi State University (MSU) to broaden virtual reality workforce training in five East Mississippi counties.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded the grant through its POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative for a MSU-sponsored “Infusing Virtual Reality in the Workforce” project.

“The Appalachian Regional Commission has provided Mississippians economic opportunities for decades,” Wicker said.  “I am glad to see this latest grant come in the form of a partnership for Mississippi State and East Mississippi Community College students.  This grant will give students cutting-edge tools to develop the kind of skills they need to be competitive in our workforce for decades to come.”

“An important key to grow Mississippi’s economy involves more job training opportunities.  The virtual reality training to be offered by Mississippi State and its partners will improve prospects for young people to train for and land well-paying jobs,” said Hyde-Smith.  “I believe the Appalachian Regional Commission has done well by investing in this Mississippi initiative.”

MSU will use the ARC grant to enhance career and technical education infrastructure in Clay, Kemper, Lowndes, Noxubee, and Oktibbeha counties in order to provide virtual reality career exploration and job training simulations for careers in manufacturing, hospitality, healthcare, construction, transportation, and warehouse industries.

The project, which will be implemented in partnership with TRANSFRVR and East Mississippi Community College (EMCC), is expected to reach more than 10,000 youth over the three-year period of the grant.  EMCC and the Mississippi Department of Education provided matching funds to support the project.

The grant to MSU was among 21 new POWER Initiative projects receiving ARC funding to support entrepreneurship, workforce development, infrastructure, tourism, and healthcare projects for job creation, job and skills training, and new private investment in Appalachian regional communities affected by the downturn of the coal industry.