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Wicker, Hyde-Smith applaud $1.49...

Wicker, Hyde-Smith applaud $1.49 million grant for virtual reality job training initiative

By: Anne Summerhays - March 17, 2022

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. 

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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: