The “E” in Madison County economic development may as well stand for education.
Speakers offering economic perspectives for Madison County at a symposium Tuesday stressed that a strong local school system ensures a highly educated population with a higher per capita income than the state or national average because those parents want to see their children succeed.
“One of the best indicators in economic opportunity is population growth. Where the best school districts are, you’ll see the band of growth,” said Phil Pepper, the chief economist for the state, said at the forum sponsored by the Madison County Business League and the Madison County Economic Development Authority.
“Education has been driving Madison County,” Pepper said.
Madison County’s population has grown by 71.5 percent since 1990, reaching 93,097 residents, in a 2009 estimate. The county’s per capita income in 2008 was $45,635, compared to $30,103 in the state and $39,138 in the country.
In Madison County, 37.9 percent of the population age 25 and older holds at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 16.9 percent in the state and 24.4. percent in the U.S.
“That’s driving your income and your demand for better schools,” Pepper said. “Madison County has a leg up on everybody and will continue to grow because of education.”
Marty Wiseman, director of the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, said Madison County’s success “correlates directly to the success of the public school system.
“Public education is a key to economic development, period,” he said.
Supervisor Paul Griffin, one of the approximately 200 government and business leaders in the audience, agreed that the good economic news about Madison County relates to the school system.
“We always knew education is important. We’ve got to keep our schools moving up,” Griffin said.
Article by Lucy Webber from the MC Herald · May 6, 2010