Appalachian Regional Commission Grant to MSU  will benefit youth in five East Mississippi counties.

On Thursday, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) highlighted 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 has provided Mississippians economic opportunities for decades,” Senator 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 Senator Hyde-Smith.  “I believe the Appalachian Regional Commission has done well by investing in this Mississippi initiative.”

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 grant to MSU was among 21 new POWER Initiative projects receiving ARC funding.

The summary for the MSU-sponsored project states that the ARC grant of $1,490,728 will go towards MSU in Starkville to enhance the career and technical education (CTE) infrastructure in the coal-impacted counties of Clay, Kemper, Lowndes, Noxubee, and Oktibbeha by infusing virtual reality (VR) career exploration and job training simulations into the education-workforce pipeline.

“Over the course of the three-year performance period, VR workforce training and/or career exploration will be delivered—in collaboration with East Mississippi Community College—to 10,398 youth in Mississippi’s manufacturing, hospitality, healthcare, construction, transportation, and warehouse industries,” the summary states.

The project award is supported by a cash match from the Missisippi Department of Education (MDE) and East Mississippi Community College.