Hattiesburg MS Digital Publication

Outdoor Recreation in Hattiesburg

A Hub for Golf and Tennis

Three country clubs make Hattiesburg a haven for golfing and a growing hub for tennis playing.

The patriarch of local golf and tennis clubs is Hattiesburg Country Club, which began 100 years ago and recently underwent a revolution in how it is operated. It had been owned since 1919 by member stockholders. But in 2017, they voted to sell the club to Carter Callaway, a former professional golfer and Hattiesburg home builder, and Paul Maholm, a retired professional baseball player.

Callaway had been a member of the club for 12 years but had been concerned about it losing members since the Great Recession. “I love the Hattiesburg Country Club,” he told the Mississippi Business Journal. “I love the golf course. We have three small children and that is where we like to spend our time playing golf, tennis and swimming. I was concerned about the future of the club.”

The new owners remodeled and modernized the clubhouse. They are providing more family-based activities like swimming, junior tennis and junior golf.

“Hattiesburg Country Club is one of best courses in Mississippi,” Callaway told the Business Journal. “We want to create an atmosphere where people enjoy bringing the family out for dinner. And during football season, we want people to think of us first as a place to watch the game.”

Timberton Golf Club is a semi-private club founded in 1991. Its 18-hole course was designed by Mark McCumber, who won 10 PGA events and has appeared as a commentator on NBC, ABC and Fox Sports. The course has been ranked 4.5 stars by Golf Digest since 1994.

“You feel isolated on every hole you play. You don’t feel crowded,” said Richard Walsh, the head golf pro. Walsh said Timberton has about 210 members, but non-members can
also play.

After playing, Timberton guests can also enjoy a restaurant and a bar.

Major events and tournaments at Timberton include June’s Three Jacks and a Jill, in which teams of one lady and three guys play 36 holes over two days, with proceeds going to The University of Southern MIssissippi Athletics, and May’s Power the Extra Table Tournament, which benefits a group that supplies food to area food pantries and soup kitchens.

The newest Hattiesburg golf facility, Canebrake Country Club, opened in 1998. The Canebrake Community in West Hattiesburg is built around the 18-hole course designed by Jerry Pate. Canebrake is a private club, but members can bring guests to play or use its other facilities.

“Even if you don’t play golf, there are other membership options to enjoy our non-golf resources at the Club,” said Canebrake Membership Director Kayla Bloor. “Those include a 24-hour fitness center, a salon and spa, a junior-Olympic-sized swimming pool and a restaurant with a covered patio.”

“Canebrake offers a variety of charity events and member events,” Bloor said. These include annual golf tourneys to benefit the fight against breast cancer, the Ronald McDonald House for parents of hospitalized children and tournaments benefiting both of Hattiesburg’s universities.

One noteworthy golf event is bestowed on the region by the ADP itself. “2019 will bring us the 22nd annual ADP Corporate Golf Challenge,” said ADP Events Manager Niki Tillson. The Golf Challenge is rotated among the three country clubs, and the 2019 tournament will be held at Canebrake on Thursday, Sept. 19.

“There are two tee times, one at 8 a.m. and one at 1 p.m., and our goal is to have 100 golfers at each,” Tillson said. “This event is a unique opportunity that the ADP provides for our members to connect with a prospective client, with existing colleagues or with someone new.”

Things to do in Hattiesburg

Looking for a great place to hangout that not many know about? There are many hidden gems right here in Greater Hattiesburg that are most definitely worth a visit.

Whether it is a first date or an evening out with friends, there isn’t a more entertaining way to spend a few hours than by answering as many trivia questions as possible. Local hot spots like the Porter Public House and Keg and Barrel host trivia nights, alongside excellent craft beer, food and unmatched ambiance. Don’t miss other happenings like happy hour, beer festivals, kid-friendly events, cook-offs and more.www.theporterpub.com and www.kegandbarrel.com

Appreciate the Arts
The University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Dance produces at least seven performances each year, including traditional concert dance, site specific dance and dance for film. The department houses the Repertory Dance Company, which provides an outlet for dance majors to hone their craft.

The William Carey University’s Carey Dinner Theatre brings nearly 40 years of entertaining audiences to the table. Patrons enjoy a meal and a gripping show. www.usm.edu and www.wmcarey.edu

Think Fast
With only 60 minutes to find a way out, College Town Escape Rooms is a thrill a minute. Adventurists answer riddles, find hidden objects, decipher codes and solve clues to move on. Custom designed scenarios with complex plots are challenging and fun. Escape rooms are great for a date, night out or team-building event. www.collegetownescaperooms.com

Game On
Pine Belt Level 10 Video Gaming is Mississippi’s ultimate video game truck party, featuring a state-of-the-art limo-style vehicle for a fabulous event. Inside, a game coach keeps the party in full swing in a climate-controlled setting, equipped with the latest games and best consoles. www.pinebeltlevel10videogaming.com

In It to Win It
Everyone has a favorite game. Luckily, Top Tier Board Games offers more than 200 tabletop games from which to play in its library. And better yet, this vast collection is free to play. Stop by for a day of fun, or for the ultimate competitor, enter a tournament for a small entry fee. Top Tier also houses cards, role-playing and miniature games. www.toptiergaming.com

Pizza Party
Fun times and good food are in store at Gattitown. What more could one want? This family-friendly destination for a night out on the town, or an unforgettable birthday party, takes the hassle out of planning, leaving only memories to be made. An arcade lends hours of play before and after dining.

Suit Up
Enjoy a day of fun indoors at Laser Mania. Weekday specials like Ladies Night, Friday Night Blast-A-Thon and Parents Night, as well as church discounts are available. For a fun-filled party, guests can even rent the facility for before or after operating hours. The venue also offers an arcade, with air hockey, pool and more. www.lasermania.com

Tempting Taste Buds
Delicious food and fabulous libations are in large supply at Branch Cocktail Bar. Enjoy American cuisine prepared by talented chefs for some of the most exquisite dishes in town. Wine-pairing dinners feature specially selected vintages from around the world. Patrons relish these one-of-a-kind, mouthwatering choices, such as braised oxtail gnocchi, yellowfin nachos, Chinese spare ribs and more, all prepared to perfection. In addition, wine and cuisine pairings at Twisted Skillet and Fine Wine and Liquor Loft + Cigars are sure to please foodies. These two business have teamed up to offer wine and cuisine pairings the third Wednesday of every month. Tickets are affordable and the experience is one you won’t soon forget. www.twistedskilletms.com and www.finewineandliquorloft.com www.branchcocktailbar.com

Welcome to Hattiesburg

Thank you for your interest in Greater Hattiesburg, where we enjoy exceptional weather, bountiful leisure activities, unique cuisine and a diverse economy. Our college town environment offers an awesome vibe for residents and visitors alike. Accolades continue to pour in for one of the Gulf South’s most prosperous communities. With rapid job growth, rising population, top-rated schools and superb health care, Greater Hattiesburg is on the move.

As you browse through this publication, you will find that Greater Hattiesburg offers a diverse blend of culture and commerce. Nicknamed the “Hub City,” Hattiesburg is a regional nucleus of activity. New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; and the Gulf Coast all lie within a two-hour drive of the city.

With its Southern charm, wonderful climate and university town atmosphere, Hattiesburg is the perfect place to call home. Our region is an economic engine leading the state in job growth over the last five years.

The Area Development Partnership is the regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development organization in Greater Hattiesburg. Our mission is to enhance economic vitality and improve the quality of life here in our community. The ADP unites over 860 member companies representing more than 20,000 employees in an effort to enhance the area’s economy and build a better community.

We hope the information found within this business guide and membership directory will entice you to visit or relocate to one of the most intriguing communities in America. Our quality of life is unsurpassed. Please visit us online to further explore Greater Hattiesburg
at www.theadp.com.

Relocation Guide


Forrest County Agricultural High School
215 Old U.S. Hwy. 49 E., Brooklyn
(601) 582‑4741

Forrest County School District
400 Forrest St., Hattiesburg
(601) 545‑6055

Hattiesburg Public Schools
301 Mamie St., Hattiesburg
(601) 582‑5078

Lamar County School District
424 Martin Luther King Dr.,
(601) 794‑1030

Lumberton Public School District
107 Tenth Ave., Lumberton
(601) 796‑2441

Perry County School District
105 Main St., New Augusta
(601) 964‑3211

Petal School District
115 E. Central Ave., Petal
(601) 545‑3002

Richton School District
701 Elm Ave., Richton
(601) 788‑6581

Private Schools

Presbyterian Christian School
(601) 268‑3867

Lamar Christian School
62 Purvis Oloh Rd., Purvis
(601) 794‑0016

Sacred Heart Catholic School
510 West Pine St., Hattiesburg
(601) 450‑5736

Word of Faith Christian Academy
2105 Country Club Rd.,
(601) 545‑7735

TIDE School
1124 S. 28th Ave., Hattiesburg
(601) 909‑6605

Dynamic Dyslexia Design: The 3-D School
120 S. George St., Petal
(601) 450‑3333

Higher Education

Antonelli College
1500 N. 31st Ave., Hattiesburg
(601) 583‑4100

Jones County Junior College
900 S. Court St., Ellisville
(601) 477‑4000

Pearl River Community College
101 Hwy. 11 N., Poplarville
(601) 403‑1000

The University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Dr., Hattiesburg
(601) 266‑1000

William Carey University
710 William Carey Pkwy.,
(601) 318‑6051


Forrest County
641 Main St., Hattiesburg
(601) 545‑6000

Lamar County
403 Main St., Purvis
(601) 794‑8504

Perry County
101 Main St., New Augusta
(601) 964‑8370

City of Hattiesburg
200 Forrest St., Hattiesburg
(601) 545‑4500

City of Lumberton
102 E. Main Ave., Lumberton
(601) 796‑8341

City of Petal
119 W. 8th Ave., Petal
(601) 545‑1776

Town of Beaumont
1510 Beaumont-Brooklyn Rd.,
(601) 784‑3352

Town of New Augusta
102 2nd St. E., New Augusta
(601) 964‑3715

Town of Purvis
136 Shelby Speights Dr., Purvis
(601) 794‑2472

Town of Richton
206 Dogwood Ave., E., Richton
(601) 788‑6015

Town of Sumrall
4880 Hwy. 589, Sumrall
(601) 758‑3591


Forrest General Hospital
6051 U.S. Hwy. 49, Hattiesburg
(601) 288‑7000

Hattiesburg Clinic
415 S. 28th Ave., Hattiesburg
(601) 264‑6000

Perry County General Hospital
206 Bay Ave., Richton
(601) 788‑6316

Merit Health Wesley
5001 Hardy St., Hattiesburg
(601) 268‑8000


Library of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County
329 Hardy St.,
Hattiesburg/Forrest County
(601) 582‑4461

Petal: 714 S. Main St., Petal
(601) 584‑7610

Lamar County Library System
Lumberton Public Library
106 W. Main Ave., Lumberton
(601) 796‑2505

Oak Grove Public Library
4958 Old Hwy. 11, Hattiesburg
(601) 296‑1620

Purvis Public Library
122 Shelby Speights Dr., Purvis
(601) 794‑6291

L.R. Boyer Memorial Library
121 Poplar St., Sumrall
(601) 758‑4711

Perry County Library System
New Augusta Public Library
510 First St., E., New Augusta
(601) 964‑3774

Richton Public Library
210 Front St., Richton
(601) 788‑6539

Beaumont Public Library
1502 Bolton Ave., Beaumont
(601) 784‑3471


Hattiesburg American
4200 Mamie St., # 200,
(601) 582‑4321

Hattiesburg Publishing, Inc.
103 N. 40th Ave., Hattiesburg
(601) 268‑2331

Impact of Hattiesburg
219 S 40th Ave., Suite E.,
(601) 264‑8181

205 DeBuys Rd., Gulfport
(228) 896‑2100

Richton Dispatch
110 Walnut St., Richton
(601) 788‑6031

Radio Stations

iHeart Media, Inc.
6555 U.S. Hwy. 98 W., Suite 8,
(601) 296‑9800

Southern Miss Student Media Center
118 College Dr., Box 5121,
(601) 266‑5188

Supertalk MS 97.3 FM
(Telesouth Communications)
5266 Old U.S. Hwy. 11, Suite 120,
(601) 264‑5185

4580 Hwy 15 N., Laurel
(601) 544‑0095

Eternity Media Group/WHJA 890 AM
106 Campbell Loop, Hattiesburg
(601) 602‑2144

WMXI News 98
7501 Hwy. 49 N., Hattiesburg
(601) 261‑0898

1204 Kinnard St., Hattiesburg
(601) 544‑1941

Television Stations

5912 U.S. Hwy. 49, Suite A,
(601) 545‑2077

2362 U.S. Hwy. 11, Moselle
(601) 544‑4730

WHPM/Fox 23
120 N. 40th Ave. Hattiesburg
(601) 602‑3174

WXXV Fox 25
14351 Hwy. 49, N. Gulfport
(228) 832‑2525

Public Safety
In case of emergency, dial 911.

Police Departments
Hattiesburg Police Department
300 Klondyke St., Hattiesburg
(601) 544‑7900

Lumberton Police Department
102 E. Main Ave, Lumberton
(601) 796‑8891

New Augusta Police Department
102 2nd St. E., New Augusta
(601) 964‑8101

Petal Police Department
127 W. Eighth Ave., Petal
(601) 544‑5331

Purvis Police Department
136 Shelby Speights Dr., Purvis
(601) 794‑6512

Richton Police Department
206 Dogwood Ave., Suite E,
(601) 788‑5551

Sumrall Police Department
11 City Hall Ave., Sumrall
(601) 758‑3531

Sheriff Departments
Forrest County Sheriff Department
55 Arena Dr., Hattiesburg
(601) 544‑7800

Lamar County Sheriff Department
205 Main St. #B, Purvis
(601) 794‑1005

Perry County Sheriff Department
103 First St. E, New Augusta
(601) 964‑8461

Fire Departments
Dixie Volunteer Fire Department
19 Dixie Barn Rd., Hattiesburg
(601) 584‑9555

Hattiesburg Fire Department
810 N. Main St., Hattiesburg
(601) 545‑4691

McLaurin Volunteer Fire Department
310 Carter Rd., Hattiesburg
(601) 545‑3473

Lumberton Fire Department
702 9th Ave., Lumberton
(601) 796‑8901
NE Lamar Volunteer Fire Department
5502 W. 4th St., Hattiesburg
(601) 264‑0510

North Forrest Volunteer Fire Department
2315 Glendale Ave., Hattiesburg
(601) 544‑6163

Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department
2536 Old Hwy. 24, Hattiesburg
(601) 264‑7563

Petal Fire Department
109 W. 8th Ave., Petal
(601) 705‑0908

Purvis Fire Department
805 Main St., Purvis
(601) 794‑5070

Southwest Lamar Volunteer Fire Department
10 Bay Creek Rd., Purvis
(601) 794‑5047


Mississippi State Department of Public Safety
1900 E. Woodrow Wilson Ave.,
(601) 987‑1212


Cable and Digital TV
6109 U.S. Hwy. 98, Hattiesburg
(601) 264‑1446

Comcast Cable
2100 Lincoln Rd., Hattiesburg
(601) 268‑1188

Dixie Electric
1312 Hwy. 42, Petal
(601) 583‑1131

Mississippi Power Company
5082 Old U.S. Hwy. 42,
(800) 532‑1502

Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association
1422 U.S. Hwy. 13 N., Columbia
(601) 736‑2666
6803 U.S. Hwy. 98, Hattiesburg
(601) 264‑2458

Cooperative Energy
7037 U.S. Hwy. 49, Hattiesburg
(601) 268‑2083

Southern Pine Electric Power Association
7848 U.S. Hwy. 49 N.,
(601) 264‑0185

Blossman Gas., Inc.
5536 U.S. Hwy. 42, Hattiesburg
(601) 582‑8449

Crosstex Energy Services
Clear Creek Rd., Lumberton
(601) 796‑3555

Spire Energy
315 S. Main St., Hattiesburg
(601) 544‑6001

6109 U.S. Hwy. 98, Hattiesburg
(601) 264‑1446

Comcast Cable
2100 Lincoln Rd., Hattiesburg
(601) 268‑1188

C Spire Wireless
4930 Hardy St. Hwy. 98 W.,
(855) 277‑4735

P.O. Box 16265, Hattiesburg
(601) 705‑8207

32 Mill Branch Rd., Suite 30,
(601) 726‑3301

Hattiesburg Water Department
900 James St., Hattiesburg
(601) 545‑4630

Beaumont City Hall
1510 Beaumont Brooklyn Rd.,
(601) 784‑3352

Lumberton Water Department
102 E. Main Ave., Lumberton
(601) 796‑7004

New Augusta City Hall
102 2nd St., E., New Augusta
(601) 964‑3710

Petal Water Department
102 W. 8th Ave., Petal
(601) 544‑6981

Purvis City Water Department
136 Shelby Speights Dr., Purvis
(601) 794‑2472

West Lamar County Water Association
2716 Hwy 589, Hattiesburg
(601) 264‑6305

Town of Richton Sewer Department
206 Dogwood Ave., E, Richton
(601) 788‑6015


Mississippi Public Service Commission
501 N. West St. #201A, Jackson
(601) 961‑5400

Health Care

Providing the Staff to Keep Health Care Humming

Health care can be only as good as the knowledge and skills of the people delivering it. The Hattiesburg area’s health care suppliers have a solid base of local educational institutions to draw upon as they recruit nurses, therapists, pharmacists, technicians and even physicians.

An estimated 9,000 of the Hattiesburg region’s 150,000 people make their living keeping other people alive and well. Many of those learned their profession—and keep up to date on it—through the University of Southern Mississippi, William Carey University and Pearl River Community College.

Many local young people (and older ones changing careers) begin their training at Pearl River Community College. PRCC offers an associate degree nursing/registered nurse path and a licensed professional nurse program. About 220 students are enrolled in the nursing studies at any given time.

PRCC also offers training in dental hygiene, physical therapist assistant, occupational therapy assistant, medical radiologic, respiratory care, medical laboratory, surgical technology and dental assisting. Most programs can be completed in 2 to 2.5 years.

The ADN program conducts clinical studies in Forrest Health facilities. Students participate in an advance care tech program, where stipends are given with agreement to commit to a certain number of years employment following graduation.

The College of Nursing and Health Professions at The University of Southern Mississippi has more than 500 students pursuing a wide variety of training programs that end with bachelor’s, master’s and even doctoral degrees. They prepare students for professions in nursing, psychiatric nursing, nurse anesthesia, public health, athletic training, kinesiotherapy, therapeutic recreation, speech pathology and audiology, speech and hearing sciences and audiology.

USM’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program alone has 376 students. 

As is true nationwide, “There is a shortage of nurses in our area,” Dean Kathleen Masters said. “Our nursing students have close to 100 percent job placement upon graduation. The BSN-prepared registered nurse can expect to make a mean salary of $65,000 in the practice setting while a master’s-prepared family nurse practitioner will make $90,000 to $100,000 on average in Mississippi.”

USM has approximately 400 affiliation agreements with health care institutions that allow its students to engage in clinical training. On campus, students enjoy a state-of-the-art simulation center with an operating room, a critical care room, a labor and delivery room, exam rooms, as well as a SynDaver and high-fidelity mannequins.

The area’s newest health training program is the School of Pharmacy at William Carey University. Dean Michael Malloy said the school began offering classes in July 2018 with 57 students, about 93 percent of whom come from Mississippi.

The William Carey program moves faster than most pharmacy schools. Graduates will emerge with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree after two years and 10 months of study.

Malloy expects most graduates to find jobs in community pharmacies. “I am told by retailers and hospitals in Mississippi that there are jobs for our graduates, especially in our area and the South Coast from Louisiana to west Florida, with a typical starting salary of around $95,000,” he said.

The Pharmacy School joins the William Carey College of Osteopathic Medicine and William Carey University’s Physical Therapy Department.

With a primary aim to train physicians for careers in primary care medicine, the College of Orthopedic Medicine curriculum is based upon core competencies in medical education as identified by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

In 2009, the college also began a Master of Biomedical Science program, which helps students become stronger applicants to professional schools in osteopathic and allopathic medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and other health-related sciences.

The MBS tracks include pre-medical/dental, pre-pharmacy and general pre-health professional.

In William Carey’s Physical Therapy Department, many faculty are American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties-certified in their respective practice areas, and most continue to provide patient care on a regular basis. 


ABCs to MBAs

Lessons that Last a Lifetime
It has been scientifically proven that beginning education at an early age can help contribute to the advancement of children as they learn throughout their lives. Children in the Pine Belt are at an advantage thanks to the efforts made for early childhood education, with programs like EXCEL BY 5, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, After School Academic & Arts Program (A.S.A.A.P.), Mission Possible and Jumpstart to Success.

Excel By 5, with programs at Hattiesburg Public School District and Petal School District, is a collaborative effort of educators, parents and local stakeholders that strives to support children from newborn to five years old.

“We work with families with young children to try to ensure they succeed when they get to kindergarten,” said Dan Kibodeaux, former director of the United Way of Southeast Mississippi and co-certification manager of Hattiesburg Excel By 5. “Studies have shown that by the age of 5 a child’s educational foundation has been set. We are working together to help families better prepare their young children for student success.”

Through Excel By 5, parents and children have access to numerous resources, such as family fun events, kid’s health fair, GED preparation classes, community workroom, Medicaid/CHIP application assistance, access to books, toy lending library and so much more.

Also working to ensure kindergarten readiness is the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program—a nationally recognized book gifting initiative that mails books to children from birth until they begin kindergarten.

After launching in 1995, the program grew quickly, and recently, came to Forrest and Lamar counties in 2017.

“We have recently sent out our first round of books to children in the area,” said Staci Cox, director of community impact at United Way of Southeast Mississippi. “It is our goal to have the young children in the area stocked up with books before they enter kindergarten.”

A.S.A.A.P., established by Van Jones and his wife, Nicole, is an after school and summer program that focuses on academics and enrichment concepts to help working families.

“We keep our fees affordable for the working families and offer more services than babysitting,” said Jones.

The program assists with homework and other educational needs to help give working families more quality time together, with less time spent doing homework every night. Since inception, the Joneses have opened three locations to serve the greater Pine Belt area.

In addition, the Area Development Partnership (ADP) has developed education initiatives to create a workforce-ready community by connecting educators to business needs and students to the realities of the workplace. Programs such as Jumpstart to Success and Mission Possible allow the community entities an opportunity to unite and better prepare students for the future.

Mission Possible is a day of learning where 11th graders hone in on soft skills, such as crafting a resume, learning how to communicate during an interview, learn about proper job etiquette and more.

Likewise, Jumpstart to Success is an interactive career expo hosting more than 1,000 ninth grade students from Forrest, Lamar and Perry counties. The expo provides insight on workplace environments and shares opportunities and employer needs from throughout the region, benefiting students in the Greater Hattiesburg school districts.

While students graduate high school fully prepared to enter the workforce, some may choose to attend a higher education institution. The Pine Belt region boasts some of the top schools in the nation, including University of Southern Mississippi (USM), William Carey University and Pearl River Community College’s (PRCC) Forrest County Center.

USM, a research driven institution, offers more than 140 undergraduate academic degree plans and more than 220 graduate degree plans. Students can pursue programs of study in applied technology, construction engineering technology, nursing and marine biology, just to name a few.

The university has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best online graduate nursing programs and has been ranked as one of the best schools for online master’s degrees by Affordable College Online.

William Carey University boasts numerous undergraduate, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees in a variety of areas, such as nursing, speech communication, education, instructional leadership, pharmacy and physical therapy. William Carey University has been ranked as one of the top institutions among regional universities in the South for best value by U.S. News & World Report.

During the past decade, the college has seen significant growth in its health care programs, such as physical therapy.

“Our aim is to provide increased access to physical therapy for the residents in this area to provide adequate services to this part of the state,” said Dr. Cyndi Scott, professor and program director of physical therapy. “In addition, the program acts somewhat as an economic engine for the Hattiesburg area. The living accommodations, professional services and commodities that these students and faculty purchase enhance the economic well-being of Hattiesburg and the surrounding area.”

By Gennie Taylor

Business Portfolio

Workforce development and education are at the forefront of economic development efforts in the Greater Hattiesburg region. Led through partnerships between Pearl River Community College and the Area Development Partnership, these efforts are being undertaken to assist everyone from middle-schoolers and high-schoolers to older-adult students seeking diplomas and degrees to become workforce ready.

David Collum chairs the Career and Technical Education Programs at the Hattiesburg campus of Pearl River Community College, teaching both “traditional” and “non-traditional” college students a variety of highly technical skills that can be used across a multitude of applications.

  Conventional wisdom says that to pursue a rewarding career and make good money, you need at least a bachelor’s degree. In an era when manufacturing has become automated  and employers struggle to fill the skills gap, that’s no longer true.

That doesn’t mean you don’t need specialized training to land a good job. To meet the needs of both would-be workers and would-be employers, a wide variety of career and technical education programs are available in the Hattiesburg area.

“There’s a shortage of skilled industrial workers across the country,” noted Daniel Jayroe, vice president for community development at the Hattiesburg Area Development Partnership. “Because of misconceptions, we don’t have as many people going into skilled trades. In manufacturing, a lot of people are afraid of automation taking away jobs. But it’s only transforming jobs. People are being paid much more in manufacturing than they used to be.”

  Meanwhile, companies across the country often find themselves unable to find enough people with the hi-tech manufacturing skills they need.

Jayroe said job-skills training begins in the seven school districts that serve the Greater Hattiesburg regions’ K-12 students. “Every February, eighth- and ninth-graders are invited to a hands-on, interactive career fair carried out by the ADP called Jumpstart to Success. At Jumpstart, students can sample the possible career pathways that are available to them after high school, whether that pathway may be obtaining a career credential or a two- or four-year degree from a local college or university.”

The young teens may be inspired to think about the field of information technology because of their interactions with a robot equipped with artificial intelligence. Students can talk to police officers and firefighters about possible careers in law enforcement and public safety. A bucket truck hints at the excitement of a job in utilities. Other pathways sampled include tourism, education, business & finance, health care, agriculture and manufacturing.

Students a few years younger can attend a two-week summer camp hosted by Pearl River Community College for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. “Campers will be able to see modern manufacturing first-hand, learn how to design a product, learn to code and see some 3-D printing,” Collum said.

“A lot of people don’t understand what modern manufacturing is like,” Collum said. “By the time students reach high school, most of them will have made up their minds on a career pathway without really knowing what jobs are out there.” He hopes that by introducing students to the career possibilities in manufacturing early, he can break the stigma often associated with blue collar work.

Sometimes the skills learned in a classroom from technical-based instruction aren’t the only thing that’s standing between a young person and a job offer. A lack of “soft skills” can also create a barrier to employment or difficulty on the job. To combat issues with soft skills, the ADP partners with local businesses, the United Way of Southeast Mississippi, The University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University to offer a one-day conference-style program for high-school juniors called Mission: Possible. At Mission: Possible, the 11th-graders learn how to write a resume and a cover letter, do well in an interview, interact professionally and communicate effectively.

A third ADP program, “Teachers in the Workplace,” is aimed at teachers and counselors at the middle-school and high-school level. “We show our educators what jobs are available in each field in the Greater Hattiesburg area, how much pay someone in that field can expect, what type of education someone must have to qualify, etc.,” Jayroe said. “It’s all about educating our educators about the opportunities available in our region.”

After high school, entering a workforce program or degree-track program at Pearl River Community College would be a wise choice for many people.

“We have many career and technical education programs on our campus, each with 20 to 40 students in it at any one time,” Collum said. “We also do workforce training for the workers at specific companies. Just today I was doing some robotic training for one of the local manufacturers. The company’s employees are coming to our lab for four days of instruction, eight hours a day.”

“PRCC incorporates work-based learning opportunities with local industries to provide CTE students an internship experience while enrolled in the program of choice,” said Terri Clark, the college’s dean of workforce and community development. “Work-based learning allows students the hands-on training of skills taught within the classroom. The sooner a student is involved in ‘real-world’ experiences, the likelihood of them succeeding in the field increases.”

PRCC programs that help fill the skills gap being experienced by employers include industrial technology; electronics engineering technology; biomedical equipment repair; welding and metal fabrication; and heating, ventilating and air conditioning.

“Our students typically get multiple job offers,” Collum said. “There are more job openings than we can fill. Most of them are going to make in the $50,000 to $60,000 range starting out.”

“PRCC offers the MS Works Smart Start to Career certification within the Adult Education Department,” Clark added. “This 45-hour certification allows students to learn essential employability skills, career awareness and the ACT National Career Readiness certificate. This is a no-cost program available for anyone needing pre-employment training.

“PRCC Adult Education also offers a full-time, no-cost High School Equivalency (GED) program. Adult Education graduates more than 300 adults each year who earn their High School Equivalency diploma and a work certification,” Clark said.

If you or someone you know has any interest in
starting or continuing your education, contact Pearl River Community College by visiting www.prcc.edu or emailing workforce@prcc.edu.