Commission on the Future of East Mississippi and West Alabama

Overview: In November 2001, TMI in partnership with the Southern Rural Development Center gathered over 100 citizen leaders from the region together to review the latest State of the South report. A number of challenges were made clear by the report. To better assess and respond to these challenges, the group recommended the formation of an organization similar to the Commission on the Future of Northeast Mississippi. At TMI’s request, Dr. Phil Sutphin, president of East Central Community College, invited leaders to come together and form the Commission on the Future of East Mississippi and West Alabama.The Commission began with representatives from eight counties, six in Mississippi and two in Alabama, then expanded to 10 in Mississippi and six in Alabama, plus the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Regional summits were held in 2003 and 2004 and several initiatives started, culminating in the West Alabama – East Mississippi (WAEM) WIRED Regional Initiative. The Commission operated from 2002 until 2006, when the WAEM Commission appointed by Governors Haley Barbour and Bob Riley replaced it.
Initiative: Commission on the Future of East Mississippi and West Alabama
Period: 2002 – 2006
Funding: TMI start-up grants from The Riley Foundation and The Phil Hardin Foundation supported development and early operations of the Commission. Part of the Regional Academy grant from The Phil Hardin Foundation provided support for the regional summits.
Purpose: The function of the Commission was to bring together leaders for the purpose of assessing conditions across the region, identifying key issues of importance to the entire region, recommending regional strategies to address these issues, and communicating findings to the region. Additionally, the Commission promoted regional unity and collaboration, serve as an advocate for regional development, and provide an inclusive process for participation by all regional partners in addressing regional issues.The Commission was committed to the belief that data, analyzed for trends and thoughtfully interpreted, can motivate change. While anecdotal evidence may spur concern, facts can be a sobering catalyst to action. The goal of the Commission was to provide the information the region needs to monitor its progress, identify its problems, and develop policy and program responses.
Results: Commission Overview Document 1

Commission Overview Document 2

Cycle of Prosperity Benchmarks for Accountability and Decision-Making


The Case for Designating 16 Counties as a Distressed Region

1st Regional Summit Program

2nd Regional Summit Program

Charter and By-Laws


Rural Place Building



Copyright © 2014 The Montgomery Institute