Program of Work
As set forth in our Articles of Incorporation the program of work for TMI in the region of east central Mississippi and west central Alabama is to train and develop individuals in leadership and workforce skills, promote strategic thinking about and analysis of societal issues for the betterment of the community, engage in activities that revitalize or stabilize low- or moderate-income geographies, develop and disseminate information designed to promote human infrastructure development, and acquire, establish, retain and maintain a fund or funds to be held, invested and used exclusivly in furtherance of such charitable and educational purposes. We have congregated our activities into the three categories set forth below.
TMI’s vision for regional development was crafted as part of the WAEM Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) initiative. Regional leaders adopted the approach presented by Dr. Mark Drabenstott, director of the RUPRI Center for Regional Competitiveness Center.
“We’re in a global economic race…and ready or not you’re in it!” said Drabenstott. In this race, “standing still is not an option.” To win the race, he said regions must 1) build on its assets and strengths, 2) build critical mass, and 3) build competitive advantages.
TMI has worked with partners across the region to attract over $36 million in support of innovation and program improvement.
Rural Place Building
To develop its approach to place building within the region, TMI looked to the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University since all communities in the West Alabama-East Mississippi (WAEM) region served by TMI qualify as rural. SRDC director, Dr. Lionel Beaulieu, pointed to leadership, networking, coaching, resource gathering, and using data to drive strategy development as keys to rural community development. With this guidance, TMI began formulating its award-winning rural place building approach for the WAEM region:
“Who builds and maintains great rural places, and how do they do it? There are builders who see opportunities and seize them. We call them entrepreneurs. There are builders who manage already built good things and keep them viable and ever renewed. We call them stewards. There are entrepreneurs and stewards who not only build and maintain for themselves and their organizations, but, with great passion for place, also build for their communities. We call them place builders.”