With more than 800 lawmakers, business and state leaders in attendance, the Honorable Newt Gingrich, Governor Phil Bryant, energy industry leaders and experts and the state’s research universities’ presidents spoke of Mississippi’s potential to be a real player in the energy segment of the United States. (Read more at the Clarion Ledger.)

“You have a chance to be a remarkable leader in the country in the next 10 to 20 years. You are the right size state to break out,” said Gingrich. “You are small enough you can actually do things. You are big enough you can actually aggregate resources and talent and people.”

MSNewsNow.com – Jackson, MS

Earlier that morning, David Dismukes, a Louisiana State University professor hired by the Mississippi Energy Institute to look at opportunities that might arise from the U.S. boom in natural gas production, kicked things off by presenting the preliminary results of his analysis. He concluded that Mississippi should pitch itself as a home for chemical manufacturing companies that might want to get away from areas clogged by tens of billions in construction in the refining and chemical sectors. (Read more at Bloomberg BusinessWeek.)

Following Mr. Dismukes was Dr. Frank Clemente, Professor Emeritus from Penn State University. He led a discussion on coal’s role in the energy sector and how the attempts to eliminate it entirely from the global energy mix are unrealistic. Later on, Gingrich reiterated the importance of coal by commenting on the state’s lignite coal plant in Kemper County by saying it may be the most important single experiment in developing electricity in the world today.

Nucor’s Dan DiMicco then took the stage to discuss how the excess of natural gas needs to be utilized to further strengthen the recently revitalized manufacturing industry.

Prior to Gingrich’s keynote address was a panel composed of the Presidents from the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University and Southern Mississippi University. Talk of universities’ roles in preparing students for careers in energy took place.

Mississippi currently ranks number two globally for energy policy and is first in its tier when energy policy is considered along with proven oil and gas reserves. The Mississippi Development Authority predicts $500 million in energy investments next year.

Energy is certainly a topic worthy of discussion in the state and the Mississippi Energy Institute was thrilled with the enthusiastic turnout at this year’s summit.