Miller’s vision certainly matches that of Governor Tate Reeves. Governor Reeves said at the Mississippi Economic Council’s annual meeting in June that Accelerate MS will put Mississippi in a place to be successful for “many, many years.” Those are words of encouragement to Miller, but they also come with big expectations.
“Obviously there’s high expectations from the Governor, Lt. Governor (Delbert Hosemann), and the Speaker of the House (Philip Gunn). All three of them have talked to me and said workforce is one of the single greatest issues, if not the greatest issue, facing the state of Mississippi. So, talk about the pressure hearing each one of those individuals, who I respect greatly, telling me, hey Ryan, don’t mess this up,” Miller said with a smile.
It was another thought underlined with self-deprecation, but there should be no confusing that tone with the confidence he conveys when speaking about his plan for his job and office.
“My belief is that there are eight different ecosystems throughout the state of Mississippi that have their own unique culture, history, infrastructure, geography, population density. They have their different strengths, their different weaknesses,” Miller said. “So, if we organize ourselves around these eight ecosystems, and if we quote unquote ‘set tables’ where you have industry, educators, policy makers, economic developers, and not-for-profits sitting at these tables having these open lines of communication on a consistent basis, I’m gonna hear two things: I’m gonna hear problems and issues that are unique to their communities, but I’m also gonna hear common denominators that rise to the top.
“If all eight of these tables within these ecosystems are working with us to identify problems, I’m gonna be able to see, I think, hopefully, very quickly, that there are some consistent themes.”
Aside from communication, another other consistent theme with Miller is continuous improvement. Miller said he wants to use the Kaisen method to evaluate improvement, which is a Japanese method that observes a condition in order to identify an ideal condition.
“Even if you’ve got a system that seems to run and function well, it seems to be efficient, seems to be running effectively, the truth is there are continually ways you can improve, make it more effective, make it more efficient,” Miller said. “I would say what came out in the interview process is a desire to unlock those areas of improvement.”
Right now, Miller is building partnerships with the state’s community colleges as well as with various businesses in Mississippi. He also sees a valuable partner in the Mississippi Manufacturers Association.
“Where MMA is crucial is that they represent, to some degree, the backbone of industry in Mississippi,” he said. “And I’ve told John (McKay, MMA President and CEO) this before and I’ll tell it to him until I’m blue in the face - getting more industry to be willing to talk to us, work with us, and be able to tell us specifically what are your needs? I need more industry throughout the state to say 'here are our needs and here’s how we can help you in the office in Accelerate MS meet those needs'.
“We want to just help create the environment that allows the private industry to grow and thrive, so there’s gonna have to be skin in the game from them as much as there is from us. And John knows that, I think MMA knows that, and I think your membership, there’s a great deal of your membership that’s absolutely on board and willing to participate.”
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