Rebuilding Mississippi: Changes in the job force

Rebuilding MS

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV)– We continue our week-long series with a look into the future.
By now, we know of the short-term impacts left in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leaders are looking past this year.

They say the changes could impact the job force moving forward. High-flying drones bringing much needed internet to rural Mississippi.

“It can take 10 years to get fiber out there economically,” said Conor Ferguson, CEO & Founder of WISPr Systems. “We can get them high-speed internet now by just popping our drone up finding where we need to put the antenna.”

WISPr Systems installs the antennas. With the coronavirus pandemic, the need for internet has grown and Ferguson, the founder of the company in Batesville, Mississippi says they’ve streamlined the process with cutting-edge technology.

“We’re getting people the last mile as they call it of internet,” said Ferguson. “Forty-seven percent of the population in Mississippi doesn’t have access to internet so we’re trying to take that number and erase it.”

Ferguson graduated from Mississippi State University. The university is leading the way in autonomous systems. Jeff Rent, interim president of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, believes we’ll be seeing more drone technology in the near future.

“I think it’s a realistic possibility that within in the next couple of years we’re going to start seeing growth in that direction, but I think this has helped speed up the technology and for innovative ways to employ that technology to the benefit of consumers, and even service providers, and retailers,” said Rent.

Rent expects health care support opportunities to expand like telemedicine.

“Mississippi is already known across the country, believe it or not, as being a pioneer in the delivery of telemedicine services,” said Rent. “UMMC and CSPIRE have partnered in the COVID-19 pandemic and many people before they even get a test to see if they are symptomatic or maybe they are asymptomatic they have to be screened first through the telemedicine app.”

Joe Sanderson is the CEO of Sanderson Farms. He is also the chair of Restart Mississippi, the governor’s commission for economic recovery.

“I have seen some projections and it is grim,” said Sanderson. “It’s just the same across the country there’s going to be a lot of jobs lost in the short term into the third and fourth quarter.”

Sanderson says amid massive unemployment there’s a focus on skills training, found at two-year colleges for careers that could be in demand in the future

It will be a long road to recovery in the Magnolia State.
What industry will lead the effort?

“That’s the million-dollar question, Jade,” said Sanderson.

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