KLAMATH FALLS – Klamath Community College is excited to announce the 2017 Commencement keynote speaker will be Joe Max Higgins, Jr., an economic developer known for his bulldog approach to revitalizing business and building new economies.
Commencement will take place at 6 p.m., June 16, at the KCC Klamath Falls campus.
“The persistence Joe Max Higgins has shown in economic development is the same persistence our graduates have shown in reaching commencement, and it is the same persistence they will need for future success,” said KCC President Roberto Gutierrez. “My hope is for Southern Oregon to embrace an aggressive economic model that will create living-wage jobs for KCC graduates and members of our community.”
During his visit, Higgins will meet with Klamath and Lake County commissioners and Southern Oregon business leaders to share his experience in economic development and industry recruitment.
In 2016, Higgins was featured in a CBS News 60 Minutes segment focusing on his revitalization of the Golden Triangle – a poverty-stricken region in northeast Mississippi – and his aggressive and forward-thinking method of economic development.
Through the 1990s, the economy of the Golden Triangle – consisting of three cities: Columbus, Starkville, and West Point – was shored up by factories that provided low-skill work producing goods like toys, textiles and tubing, according to Mississippi-based newspaper The Meridian Star. The local economy started to nosedive as factories began shuttering their doors, and during the Great Recession, unemployment in the Golden Triangle hit as high as 20 percent, the Star reported.
Since starting work in the Golden Triangle in 2003, Higgins has used infrastructure grants, tax breaks and other financial incentives of about $100 million to attract $5.9 billion in private investment, helping create more than 6,000 manufacturing jobs.
In 2015, Higgins was named Mega Developer of the Year by the Tennessee Valley Authority. He was also named the 2016 Business Person of the Year by the Mississippi Business Journal.
Higgins is a graduate of Arkansas State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography, the Institute for Organization Management at the University of Notre Dame, the Community Development Institute at the University of Central Arkansas and the Arkansas Environmental Academy.
Klamath Community College is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / Veteran / ADA institution embracing diversity. We encourage and welcome women, minority, veteran, and disabled candidates.