Scott Waller, President/CEO MS Economic Council

The Rotary Club of Jackson was pleased to welcome Scott Waller President and CEO of Mississippi Economic Council and fellow RTC Rotarian.


President Neddie Winters, president of Mission Mississippi, called the meeting to order. Matt Allen, Brunini, Grantham, Grower and Hewes, gave the opening prayer, Johnny Donaldson, president of BankPlus Jackson, led the pledge of allegiance and Neddie led the Rotary 4-way test.  Richard Wilbourn of Wilbourn and Associates, introduced and welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests of Rotarians.


The head table included Alasdair Roe of Vigilant Health, Selena Swartzfager of Mississippi Council on Economic Education, Al Sage of Sage Advice and Julian Watson from Prudential Securities who introduced Scott Waller.


The attendance committee recognized PERFECT ATTENDANCE to the following members for the 2017-2018 year:

THREE                                   Becky White

FOUR                                    Amanda Fontaine, Sandra Shelson           

SEVEN                                   Mark Saxon

EIGHT                                    Paul Bowers

NINE                                      Harvey Little

TEN                                        Van Jones

FIFTEEN                                Lee Bush

SIXTEEN                               Ted Jackson

EIGHTTEEN                         Phillip Carpenter

NINETEEN                           Dent Anglin

TWENTY-TWO                   Ray Lenow, Neddie Winters

TWENTY-FIVE                    Johnny Louis

TWENTY-NINE                   Roger Venable

THIRTY-SIX                          Owen Lusk

THIRTY-SEVEN                   McKamy Smith


Committee Spotlight: Tom Johnson, Previous DAG of Rotary District 6820, Previous Rotary Club President and Retired L3 gave a presentation on the JPS Dictionary Project.  Tom gave a brief history of the project and encouraged all members to take an hour out of their day to participate in the project.


Scott Waller, IOM, is President and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council – the State Chamber of Commerce.

He previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at MEC, where he refined and deployed a comprehensive advocacy plan by building strong relationships with members of the Mississippi legislature and bolstering involvement among MEC’s membership.

He has worked to build coalitions and strengthen alliances between MEC members and other organizations to make the Chamber a policy leader on key issues of economic development, education, workforce training, taxes, tourism, and business climate. He also pioneered a comprehensive communications plan using innovative approaches to take advantage of ever-changing technology.

Prior to joining MEC, he spent more than 20 years as a newspaper journalist, including four years as Business Editor of The Clarion-Ledger. He is also the former owner and editor of the Madison County Journal and was a co-owner of Siwel Homes, a residential construction company.

He is a graduate of Mississippi State University and has completed the respected Institute for Organization Management program, an intensive four-year nonprofit leadership training program conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and held at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.

Waller has continued his dedication to scouting since his days as an Eagle Scout and serves on the executive board of the Andrew Jackson Council of the Boy Scouts of America. A loyal Bulldog, he has served on the board of directors of the Mississippi State University Alumni Association’s Central Mississippi Chapter.

Professionally, he serves as Chair of Board of the Council of State Chambers’ Policy Center and on the council’s board of directors. He is a member the Institute for Organization Management’s National Board of Trustees and the IOM’s Southeast Board of Regents. Waller is also a member of the national Transportation Investment Advocacy Council.


The MEC is the state chamber of commerce.  The mission is to focus on growing the economy throughout the state.  It is a private not for profit company. 

Scott opened his presentation by asking, “how do we create a strong work force in this state? “what makes you want to give back?”  Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”, Scott used that quote to encourage each of us to find our passion and run with it. 

Mississippi currently has the lowest unemployment rate in it’s history.  However, 40k jobs are unfilled.  This is due in part to the deficit in skilled labor and limited number of employees with post-secondary education.  In the next 10 years that number is expected to increase significantly.  By 2020, 65% of all jobs will require some type of post-secondary education, not just a 4-year degree.  46% of employers report unfilled jobs because of lack of skilled tradesmen available.


Moving forward we need to focus on skills training that connects to the jobs that exist.  In a recent study of college graduates, 30% of students felt as if they were unprepared for the workforce, 45% felt over qualified for the position they were in, 48% are not working in their chosen field and 53% would choose a different field or college.  Our goal as educators and future employers should be about highlighting the opportunities that exist. 

Our state has had success moving the needle.  Since 2007, Mississippi has had improvements in many categories of reading and math, with all moves being in the top 10 in the country for improvement.  There has been a significant improvement in preparing children for kindergarten and school readiness. We have to continue to connect the dots and use post-secondary education and training to help create a qualified work force.

Scott ended the discussion with ““If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose” a quote from TD Jakes. 


Neddie adjourned the meeting.  There will not be a Rotary meeting next week in observation of Labor Day.