Date of Award

5-2014

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Geography and Geology

First Advisor

Mark M. Miller, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Geography and Geology

Abstract

Many Mississippi economic developers firmly believe that education could be the answer to the economic development of a community. However, there is a relatively small amount of research published on how the connection between education and economic development works. This is a case study of the Greater Hattiesburg Area of Mississippi which seeks to explore and to begin to understand how to better the relationship between education and economic development.

The researcher conducted eight in-depth, open-ended interviews with key informants who were directly engaged in the K-12 education system and economic development of the Greater Hattiesburg Area. The researcher coded data from the interviews according to common themes that emerged from all of the interviews. These data were then sorted theme by theme so to conclude how education and economic development work together.

The results show that there is a definite connection between education and economic

development. The five major themes found in the data are that 1) there is a connection between education and economic development, 2) education is used as a tool for economic development, 3) there are challenges to strengthening the relationship between education and economic development, 4) steps can be taken to increase this relationship, and 5) Hattiesburg has “all the right ingredients” to tap into this alliance.

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