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C O N T E N T S You Should Know...
Joe Partridge/Famous Drum Company
Contributing Writers Mark Chinn, Lynne Jeter, Mary Mack Jones, Tom Ramsey
Mary Mack Jones, Greg Pevey
Southern Farm Bureau On-Site Clinic
4 Up Front
34 Community Works
10 Craig’s Corner
2 - Greater Jackson Business
Jack Criss Photography
Jack Criss, Jeff Sanders,
24 Marianna on Marketing
Turning Adversity into Success
Robert Dienelt, Stacey Wall,
Walt Dallas, Jim Craig, Julie Skipper,
Jason Roberts/Smoothie King
Volume 1 • Issue 1
Business News for Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties
Greater Jackson Business is published twelve times a year to promote Metro Jackson in an informative and positive manner. We welcome contributions of articles and photos; however, they will be subject to editing and availability of space and subject matter. Photographs, comments, questions, subscription requests and ad placement inquiries are invited! Return envelopes and postage must accompany all materials submitted if a return is requested. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed in Greater Jackson Business are those of the authors or columnists and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, nor do they constitute an endorsement of products or services herein. We reserve the right to refuse any advertisement.
Business News for Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties
P.O. Box 13665 • Jackson, MS 39236 Phone: 601-750-6587 email: email@example.com www.greaterjacksonbusiness.com
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F R O N T
Doing Business In A Post-Political World
BY JACK CRISS Publisher
e are living in a new business paradigm. Depending on your outlook and how well you adjust, this could be either a blessing or a curse. The battering our economy incurred after the meltdown of late 2008 has indeed created previously unknown barriers, obstacles and challenges to the business world. This is especially true for the small business owner and entrepreneur. There’s a popular saying that everything old is new again and that bit of folksy wisdom could very well be applicable to the way we all will now have to conduct business. It certainly holds true in the case of the new magazine you’re reading now. While most of us were riding high as the bubble kept inflating, unaware of the trouble looming, perhaps we counted our money too quickly. Perhaps we paid lip service to the customer coming first, being accountable, and other such nice-sounding business platitudes. But did we really adhere to what we preached? Did we really know that, in fact, each customer is a precious part of our livelihood and we had better give them the attention they deserve? I really can’t honestly say if I did or not. 4 - Greater Jackson Business
Times were good and, in retrospect, maybe some of us had our heads in the sand. It’s not that we were being dishonest or cheating our customers; perhaps we were just taking them for granted, expecting them to always be there and counting on that invoice being paid every month. That all changed in late 2008. As ominous talk of depressions, recessions, meltdown and panic whirled about our heads, many of us began to see – literally right before our eyes – the heretofore constant customers cut back, bow out or simply fade away. It was a terrifying moment, especially so for the small business that received no government handout, that had always made it by the bootstrap anyway but now was facing the possibility of total ruin. I have seen over the past several months – and have personally experienced – a new sense of doing business in our community. The ties that held us together in our business dealings, once seen as being so strong and impenetrable, were revealed as fragile…and sacred. I use the latter term deliberately because once we were all able to breathe…ever so slightly…again, we could see how special and wonderful our customers, associates and co-workers really were and are. The “old” way of treating your customers like friends was revealed as truth: these people are who keep you and your family alive. What has ultimately emerged from the financial chaos, I think, is this: regardless of your political persuasion; regardless of your race or gender; regardless of your status on the business ladder – we are all in this together. Maybe that was not how we would have chosen it but that’s the way it is. We can fight this bitterly and try and survive alone with barricades up and protest signs hoisted; or we can accept what I think is the fact that we have to forge alliances to keep our local economy as strong as it can be. I call our new world a “post-political” one because, regardless of your political persuasion, you must now do business with as many members of your community as you’re able; no longer can
one pick and choose their customers. This, I submit, is a good thing. This means, to me, taking the time to make your purchases carefully now. When able, support and patronize your independent, local entrepreneurs and business men and women. Exercise your economic power where it will do the most good: in the Metro area where you live and work. What I have learned in the course of the past year is that I was born to do what I am now starting to do again: promoting local businesses. My hometown of Jackson and the surrounding Metro area needed and deserved a well-produced and interesting, full color magazine which has as its mission the recognition and uplifting of the business community. Business is what makes this community strong. Without the profits and products our businesses create and distribute, charities could not exist, education could not prosper, churches would wither…our community cannot survive without business. My entire adult working career has been spent defending and promoting business from what I have seen as unjust attacks on the very notion of profit and creativity. I have changed my philosophy somewhat in realizing that, especially after the meltdown, big business can often (with the assistance of the government) harm and hamper the entrepreneur’s way of life, all the while facing no repercussions for immoral activity. If you call that a luxury (I don’t), we certainly have no such immunity as local and small businesses. While the big boys on Wall Street can laugh all the way to the bank with their lobbyists, we suffer the economic repercussions. But we don’t do it alone. We still have, and still need, each other. That is the new economic paradigm. Let’s make the most of it and support each other. On that subject, I want to thank the many people who have helped in launching Greater Jackson Business. It’s been a long road to get here but it has reminded me of why I have always been so proud of our local business community: there are countless fine, decent and honorable people in the Metro area who will step up when needed. It’s not all about the bottom line and these individuals prove it every day. Thank you for your moral and financial support. Without our advertisers and friends this magazine would not exist. I am truly humbled and honored by the help I have received and the enthusiasm I have encountered. I hope you stay in touch with me as we start this new chapter in local business publishing. I really want to hear your suggestions, ideas and criticisms. Our web site is www. greaterjacksonbusiness.com and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I eagerly await your comments! Now…let’s get to work. And support one another. - GJB
Y O U S H O U L D K N O W. . .
Ty Robinson Trustmark banking executive loves putting customers first
Ty Robinson BY JACK CRISS Publsiher
s Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager of Trustmark Bank’s Dogwood Branch in Flowood, Tydrina (Ty) Robinson was there when the branch opened in April 2006, guiding the branch through its formative years and making a name for herself in the process. Robinson began her career at Trustmark as Assistant Branch Manager at the Jackson Main Branch in downtown Jackson five and a half years ago. Nearly two years later, she transferred to Trustmark’s Deville branch, where she served as Assistant Branch Manager for a year. “While at the Deville location,” Robinson says, “I often ‘floated’ from branch to branch throughout the Jackson Metro area, filling in for other managers as needed. It’s fair to say that I’ve worked in just about every Trustmark branch location in the Jackson Metro area! That proved to be an invaluable experience, affording me the opportunity to see the differences in customer needs among various communities. When word got out that a new branch was being built in the Dogwood area of Flowood, I applied for the job and was hired as the Branch Manager.” Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Robin6 - Greater Jackson Business
son’s parents, who were born in Philadelphia, Mississippi, decided that a slower pace was in order for their family, and they moved the family back to Philadelphia when Ty was 15. After graduating from high school, Robinson attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where she earned a Business Administration degree with an emphasis in banking and finance. “I took a job as a Credit Manager with Wells Fargo Financial straight out of college,” Robinson says, “working in the Jackson office near the Metrocenter Mall. While at Wells Fargo, I learned all aspects of finance, which helped me transition into the banking environment. After a year, I left Wells Fargo for AmSouth Bank, where I worked as an Assistant Branch Manager for three years prior to coming to Trustmark.” What was – and is – the appeal of banking to Robinson? “Immediately prior to graduating from high school, my mother took me to open my first checking account,” Robinson recalls, “and I enjoyed the entire process. I saw right then that in the banking field, you can give advice to assist people with matters of extreme importance. I wanted to be that ‘specialist’ for my customers! Helping with those crucial financial decisions and offering people sound information to help them make the right
choices is what I enjoy doing every day.” Obviously a fateful day in the life of the young Ty Robinson. With the economy the way it is and people handling their financial decisions more cautiously, is the banking industry any different or more challenging now? “Sure,” Robinson responds. “I’m spending a little more time with customers and giving more advice than in the past. It’s more than just financial advice I’m giving; oftentimes it’s personal advice too, which is somewhat new for me. So, yes, there have been new challenges. But I love what I do. I’m upfront and honest, and I believe I have developed a level of trust with my customers that they appreciate. I’m passionate about knowing my customers, understanding their real needs and developing solutions to help them.” Robinson does admit, however, that with banking regulations as rigid as they are today, there are some things that just cannot be done anymore. “It’s tough turning someone down, on a loan for example,” she says. “Still, I make suggestions to my customers and point out other options that are available; I want to help if I can.” What might be next for Ty Robinson in her career? “I love being a Branch Manager, overseeing the day-to-day operations and helping customers,” she says. “The next step may be commercial lending or regional management, but at this point, I’m content with what I do and plan to do it for as long as I can. Being a Branch Manager is really similar to owning your own business; I’m given autonomy to make this branch profitable and successful. One day, I think I would like to own my own business, but I’m undecided as to what it would be,” she laughs. “What I do now is more than satisfying.” “Very busy!” is Robinson’s answer when asked what a typical day is like. “I start the day by visiting with my staff. I’m a hands-on manager; I like to help out at the teller window, for example, and am always offering assistance. Most of the time my associates tell me ‘No’ when I offer,” she laughs, “but that’s just how I like to manage my branch, leading by example. I do a lot of daily planning, developing and analyzing reports and consulting with existing customers and potential clients in and outside the office. I also regularly
See Robinson - Page 27
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S U C C E S S S T O R I E S
Young Entrepreneur becomes a “King” in Madison
BY MARY MACK JONES Contributing Writer
n our “Super Size Me” culture, the phrase healthy fast food might seem to be an oxymoron. Jason Roberts would disagree. As owner of the Metro area’s newest Smoothie King franchise in Madison, Jason and his savvy sidekick and manager, Keith Jasper, are whipping up delicious and nutritious smoothies in a jiffy – sending happy customers on their way with a satisfying meal in a cup - no knife and fork required. After graduating from Mississippi State in 2006 with a degree in insurance/risk management/financial planning, Roberts had often dreamed of owning a business. “I always thought that a fast food restaurant with a healthy menu is just what the world needed.” As a big fan of Smoothie King fare, he came to realize that maybe his dream was right in front of him. Having grown up in Madison and watching the rapid growth of his hometown, he was well aware of the business potential there. After much research on the feasibility of a juice bar franchise and many conversations while working out in the gym with his good friend (and soon to be manager) Keith, he hatched his plan and in August of 2009, Smoothie King, Madison, opened for business. The franchise’s corporate office required a fair amount of preliminary legwork for site selection and after considering a number of spots, a new shopping area next to the 8 - Greater Jackson Business
Courthouse Fitness Center near heavily traveled Highway 51 turned out to be a prime location for the venture. “Madison is a family oriented community and, in this area, we are a convenient stop for people on the way to and from school and work. We originally had planned on having a drive thru, but that will have to wait for our next location,” says Roberts. He must have made the right choice, because Smoothie King has become a favorite after school stopover for parents and kids looking for an afternoon snack, and plainly speaking - business is booming. A giant cup that walks and talks, company mascot “Big Smoothie,” also known as “Smooth Operator,” is a favorite with the kiddies and can be seen on occasion in the Madison area inviting fans to come and taste his wares. Make no mistake: Smoothie King is not just for health nuts. In addition to the supplements, vitamin drinks, and other enhancements that attract devotees of good health, there are also milk shakes and other tasty treats made with real ice cream for the more decadent appetite. There is something for everyone on this menu, but the most popular item - the Smoothie - is a complete meal replacement and does not require a side dish. Roberts has an innovative approach to marketing his franchise and recognizes the value of tagging on to Madison’s community spirit. Working in the venues of the area schools, he and Jasper have set up sampling stations at various events. Recently, they participated in
“Health Day” for third graders at a local school by providing samples of nutritional drinks and other Smoothie King products. The frosty smoothies were also a hit with hot, thirsty shoppers at the October Canton Flea Market. With the current focus on promoting healthy life choices, Roberts’ sampling stations are a natural fit for these kinds of events in schools and businesses. The visibility gained from their presence at community functions has been a real boon to business. According to Roberts, the weakened economic climate does not appear to be stifling his business and in fact, November has seen an uptick in sales – a pleasant and unexpected surprise. “People are health conscious and with the immune enhancements provided by our products, they are hoping to help prevent colds and flu through nutrition.” The future for health and nutritional products could be rosy if the current trend toward awareness continues and Roberts wants to stay on the bandwagon. His long-range plan may include expansion through additional franchises in the Central Mississippi area. The best news for this young entrepreneur is a nod from his corporate office. Guest service is vital to the stability of each franchise and the Madison store’s stellar performance in the area of customer service earned them a perfect score after a recent unannounced visit from the corporate office. Roberts and Jasper are rightfully proud of their new business and for the superior service they offer customers. You can follow Madison Smoothie King on Facebook and Twitter. Also recently launched is a “Text Message Club” offering members special discounts and other benefits via cell phone texting. This popular marketing device has attracted over 700 followers in the Madison area. - GJB
n Each day, one in four Americans visits a fast food restaurant n In 1972, we spent 3 billion a year on fast food - today we spend more than $110 billion n French fries are the most eaten vegetable in America n You would have to walk for seven hours straight to burn off a Super Sized Coke, fries and Big Mac n In the U.S., we eat more than 1,000,000 animals an hour n 60 percent of all Americans are either overweight or obese n One in every three children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime n Left unabated, obesity will surpass smoking as the leading cause of preventable death in America .
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, A Mutual Insurance Company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. 速 Registered Marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an Association of Independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.
C R A I G ’ S C O R N E R
Are you your Customer’s Keeper?
ou and your spouse own a group of would be morally, much less financially, responLaundromats to provide extra income sible for a crime committed by a stranger on the for your family. The cash flow from business premises. Why should the business be the business is barely enough to pay required to provide private security, when state the rent, the note on the coin-operated laundry and local taxes are paid to support the Police Deand dryer machines, and the part-time employpartment, the Sheriff ’s Office, the Bureau of Narees who provide “fluff-n-fold” service for cuscotics, the Department of Public Safety, and the tomers who pay more. One dreadful night, you District receive a call from the police: the boyfriend of one of your “fluff-n-fold” workers was shot in Attorney’s Office? an attempted robbery of one of your stores. You Crime prevention is ordinarily a classic recognize the victim’s name: you’ve tried to tell example of a positive externality: a service prohim (and your employee) that he shouldn’t be vided by the public at large, which benefits indistanding behind the counter at the store. Deviduals regardless of the amount they have paid spite this, you feel horrible about the robbery for the service. But generally speaking, where and hope the boyfriend survives. Days later, you government regulations, or services, are reduced, find yourself at his funeral. Months later, you are then tort law – the law of liability for negligence – BY JIM CRAIG present when the robber is convicted of murder tends to pick up the slack by imposing duties on Contributing Columnist and sent to prison for life without the possibility non-government actors to protect the health and of parole. safety of others. Thus, for the last twenty years, You think this painful chapter in your life as an the burden of providing a safe environment on entrepreneur has ended. Then one evening, while you’re standing in the premises of a business has shifted – in part – to the owner of that that same store, contemplating the blood that had been spilled there, business. In this time of low tax revenues and correspondingly less a Deputy Sheriff approaches you with some papers. The boyfriend’s public services, even more of that burden may fall on the entreprefamily have filed a suit against you, your spouse, and your business, neurs of our area. alleging that you are financially responsible for the death. Your nightThe question is: how can your business mitigate the risk of a successmare isn’t over; it’s barely even begun. ful lawsuit by a customer who is attacked (or whose car is burglarized) You find yourself in the same courtroom in downtown Jackson, re- while shopping with you? To evaluate that risk, you need to consider living the robbery a second time. But this time the attorney is pointing the five basic questions: Who? at you – blaming you for not providing security for the customers of your Laundromats. When the jury comes back this time, its verdict is Where? How? What? When? against you – for three-quarters of a million dollars. 1. Who Do You Need To Protect? The cases that impose responsibil I couldn’t make this story up if I tried. In Gibson v. Wright, 870 So. ity on business owners for the criminal acts of third parties are based 2d 1250 (Miss. App. 2004), the Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed a on the general principles of premises liability. Under those principles,
It seems counter-intuitive, to say the least, that a business owner would be morally, much less financially, responsible for a crime committed by a stranger on the business premises. judgment of $790,000 against the owners of the Laundromat on facts very similar to these. That’s the kind of result that can ruin your family’s dreams of business ownership. And it’s not just the money – which may (depending on the terms of the policy) be covered by insurance. It’s the continued agony of being accused, in open court, of responsibility for the death or serious injury of a customer or employee. My law partners and I review new filings in the Circuit Court of Hinds County on a weekly basis. It appears to me that the number of lawsuits alleging liability for criminal acts filed against businesses – from retail stores to apartment complexes to, yes, owners of laudromats – has increased dramatically during the last year. In a semblance of cosmic justice, even a law firm has been exposed to liability for criminal assaults by a stranger on the grounds of the firm’s office. Simpson v. Boyd, 880 So. 2d 1047 (Miss. 2004). It seems counter-intuitive, to say the least, that a business owner 10 - Greater Jackson Business
a business is required to keep its premises reasonably safe for invitees. An invitee is a person who is invited by the business to come on to the premises for the mutual advantage of both parties. For example, a customer entering a retail store (or parking in the store’s lot) during business hours is an invitee. The customer will benefit from the opportunity to shop, and the retail owner will benefit from the opportunity to make a sale. In contrast to an invitee, a property owner has a very limited duty to trespassers and licensees: to refrain from intentionally injuring a trespasser or licensee; and to use reasonable care in the owner’s own actions when he or she knows that a licensee is on the premises. Neither of these duties require the owner to protect a trespasser or licensee from the criminal acts of strangers. A trespasser, obviously, is on the property without permission. A licensee is on the premises for his or her own convenience, pleasure, or
benefit with the implied permission of the owner. But a licensee does not provide any benefit to the owner. In the Gibson case, the jury found that the employee’s boyfriend was an invitee, and not a licensee, because there was testimony that the owner of the Laundromat allowed the boyfriend to be present in the evenings to give the female employees a sense of safety. That provided a benefit to the owner. Also, there was some evidence that the boyfriend was doing laundry for his mother. The entrepreneur presented evidence that the boyfriend had been told to stay away from the cash register counter, or even to stay away altogether. But with this kind of conflicting testimony, the business owner was at the mercy of the jury’s decision. You can’t prevent your customers from being considered invitees of your business. But you can have written policies about other persons. Such a policy might have given the laundromat owner an argument for summary judgment – a pre-trial ruling that the lawsuit against the business must be dismissed. The question “who was the victim – an invitee, licensee, or trespasser?” tends to be more important in apartment complex cases. The tenants of an apartment are obviously invitees. But under Mississippi law, a social guest is, at best, a licensee. Doe v. Miss. State Federation, 941 So. 2d 820, 826-27 (Miss. App. 2006). These days, though, a guest may become a roommate sometime between the third and fifth date. And what about children of divorced couples, who live with one parent but spend weekends at the apartment complex with the non-custodial parent? Written policies are one way that an apartment complex can reduce its risks in cases such as these. 2. Where Is Your Business? The single biggest factor in determining liability for criminal acts against the customers of a business is the location of the store. The courts hold that the duty to keep business premises reasonably safe for invitees extends “to protecting tenants from the foreseeable criminal acts of others.” Davis v. Christian Brotherhood Homes, 957 So. 2d 390, 399 (Miss. App. 2007) (emphasis supplied). When are the criminal acts of others “foreseeable?” The Davis Court answered: “the criminal acts of a third party may be deemed reasonably foreseeable if the premises owner had cause to anticipate such acts” (emphasis supplied). The Court then said that the owner has “cause to anticipate” if the owner knew, or with reasonable research, could have known, any of these three possibilities: (1) that a person who frequented the premises could be violent; (2) that there is an “overall pattern of criminal activity in the vicinity of the business”; or (3) that there is “frequent criminal activity on the premises.” It’s possible, but unlikely, that you have reason to know that someone who is regularly on your premises has what the courts call “a violent nature.” But the second and third of these factors pose real problems for local businesses. Because liability will be imposed whether you knew or could have known about the possibilities of criminal activity near your store (or apartment complex, law office, Laundromat, etc.) you gain nothing from taking the ostrich approach. Instead, check out the Jackson Police Department’s website (http://www.jacksonms.gov/government/ police/crimestats)for the latest reports of crimes in your area. You are much better off knowing the threat, and then taking reasonable measures to protect your customers. In that case, even if a crime occurs on your premises, your business is not liable at all. 3. How Did The Crime happen? The circumstances of the crime is the last of the factors to consider before you decide what you must do to protect your customers from harm and yourself from liability. In the Simpson case, the law firm was potentially liable because the victim alleged the office’s locks and other security devices didn’t meet the standards of the local building code. In Davis, the fact that the assault happened in a common area between the individual apartments helped to expose the owner to the lawsuit. The lesson to take from these cases: Know the codes that govern
your building. Watch out for parking lots and other common places that you expect your customers to use while shopping with you. So, then: 4. What Do You Have to Do? As we have seen, the duty of the business owner is to make the premises “reasonably safe” for customers, tenants, and other invitees. “Reasonably safe” is one of those terms that is intentionally malleable (or if you prefer, squishy). If you have a mathematical mind, think about it this way: what is the cost of a specific security measure, and is it in line with the possible danger at your specific location? For some businesses, a well-lighted parking lot may be sufficient. Others may need security cameras. Still others, a live security guard, either hired by your business or shared with others. It helps to compare your security measures with those of neighboring businesses, but that is not enough, all by itself, to protect you from liability. A jury might decide that all of the businesses on your block were negligent. There is no substitute for actually consulting others – your local Police precinct or Sheriff ’s deputy, getting ideas from several security firms, and, yes, lawyers – to determine what your risks are, and what steps you should take to prevent harm. Because the good news is this: IF you have assessed your neighborhood’s propensity for crime, and IF you have taken reasonable steps in light of that propensity, THEN you have an excellent chance of never waiting for a jury to return from deliberating whether to assess damages against your business. 5. When Should You Get Started? NOW. With the holidays on us, and in the midst of the “Great Recession,” you will have more customers, and also more persons in the community tempted to crime. Do not wait for the crime to happen. Act now, because like it or not, under Mississippi law, you are your customer’s keeper. - GJB James W. Craig is a partner in the General Litigation Practice Group of the Jackson office of Phelps Dunbar, LLP. He graduated first in his class at the Mississippi College School of Law in 1985, where he now teaches part-time in addition to his law practice. Jim primarily handles complex cases in the areas of commercial/contract law, antitrust, consumer finance litigation and insurance coverage litigation. His clients range from large national corporations to local businesses.
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Greater Jackson Business - 11
E X C L U S I V E
Harboring Ghost Town Reservoir Development “Doesn’t Have Legs Just Yet”
By Lynne Jeter Contributing Writer
n the early 2000s, when developer John Burwell announced that he was moving forward on construction of Harbor Walk, a proposed $750 million upscale mixed-use development at the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Ridgeland, folks around the metro Jackson area looking for a unique place to work, live, and play on the water were excited about the project. Burwell’s vision involved more than 100 high-rise condominiums, a hotel, offices, boutiques and restaurants centered on a new marina. To boost the number of boat slips from 500 to 800, replace older piers with brand new floating concrete docks, and relocate and expand the marina’s small, difficult-to-access fuel dock to a site near the harbor entrance, the project required the destruction of The Dock, a popular nightclub owned by the Deweese family. Its final curtain call was August 2005. Construction on Harbor Walk’s first phase, valued at $175 million, was slated to begin in March 2006 and include a new marina and hotel to be built on the site of The Dock. The first phase called for 456,000 square feet of new construction by White Construction Company, with 264,000 square feet devoted to condominiums, 75,000 square feet to office space, 65,000 square feet representing at least four restaurants, and 52,000 square feet of retail space. About 1,260 parking spaces were to be added in the two-year project. “The buildings will have seven stories, with retail on the levee level,” Burwell said in 2005, before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “Every building will have parking underneath, and every office, condo and hotel room should have a really nice water view.” The biggest buzz centered on Valencia Hotel Group’s commitment to build a four-star, nine-story, 200-room luxury boutique hotel featuring meeting space and an open-air plaza connecting the hotel to the waterfront. Phase II called for another 200,000 square feet of condominiums, 106,000 square feet of retail space, 56,000 square feet devoted to restaurants, and 20,000 square feet of office space. Proposed amenities 12 - Greater Jackson Business
included a specialty grocery store, bakery, laundry and other guest services, plus the addition of approximately 1,600 parking spaces. Phase III focused on 108,000 square feet of condominiums, 36,000 square feet of retail space, 20,000 square feet of office space, and 16,000 square feet for restaurants, with another 365 parking spaces. Phase IV was slated to feature 234,000 square feet of office space, 37,000 square feet for food service, and 34,000 square feet of retail space, with another 894 parking spaces. When a year passed with no obvious construction activity on the condominium and office space, rumblings of dissatisfaction began to emerge. On a Jackson Free Press forum dated June 26, 2006, “James in Nashville” asked: “Has anyone heard anything about Harbor Walk? There’s been zero progress since they tore down The Dock. I really hope it doesn’t turn into another beef plant.” Three days later, “Kingfish” commented on the forum: “Too bad we can’t have casinos at the Rez. Say what you want about casino companies, but they know how to build things—in a hurry.” On the Jackson Jambalaya blog dated June 6, 2007, the headline read: Harbor Walk Hoax? “Ladies and gentlemen, this project as advertised is dead, kaput, finis, no more. Except for one crane, there is no construction equipment in the area. There are no building materials. Where The Dock once was is now only water … Where the sounds of laughter, merriment, and people having fun echoed through the harbor, there is now the quiet, eerie lapping of the water against the banks of the Ross Barnett Reservoir … The Dock was the largest noncasino account for the tax commission. However, the city of Ridgeland got what it wanted, which was the abolition of the Dock. Such is the nature of progress in Mississippi that we tear down a popular nightclub and replace it with.....nothing. I think that single-wide trailer is the only high-rise development you will see at Main Harbor as long as Mr. Burwell is responsible for its development.” Area realtors have remained optimistic about the development’s potential. Said one, “It’s a great project; it doesn’t have legs just yet.” On her July 2008 real estate blog, Patti Harrington wrote that Harbor Walk was making progress: “Just before July Fourth weekend, the initial component of the development opened. It includes a short
order grill with indoor and outdoor seating, a convenience store, a fuel station and office space, all housed in a 6,000-square-foot, $1.3 million building called Harbor Station.” Its opening “sends out a major signal to the community that the development is moving forward.” Harrington also mentioned that Harbor Walk is a six-phase project, with each phase expected to take about two years to complete. Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee called the Harbor Town development “a diamond in the rough.” “Like most other projects, the economy has slowed down its progress a bit, but when it picks up, it’ll be a great development for not only the city of Ridgeland and Madison County, but also for the state of Mississippi,” he says. Realtor/broker Walter Michel of Jackson says Harbor Town has “an ideal location with long-range water views. It’s going to be very popular.” Others have questioned aspects of the project, particularly the viability
of some of the small retail, unless the shops are creative and unduplicated. Others have speculated that the water, housing opportunities, recreational opportunity and potential for a unique hotel are optimal. Nancy M. Lane, CCIM, owner of Nancy Lane Commercial Realty, Inc. of Jackson, says Harbor Walk “could be a viable project, but the economy has certainly hindered it – and many other projects.” “Dependent upon the speed with which the economy recovers and the housing market stabilizes, the opportunity for completion of at least portions of the project are good, in my opinion,” she says. “I think we’ll see modifications and changes to many projects to reflect the needs and demands at the time things crank up again, so some projects may not look exactly the same as they did on the drawing board five or six years ago. One of the potential challenges with an aggressive and one-of-a-kind project is that the lead time from the conceptual design to completion is necessarily long and many things shift as needs change.” - GJB
To Be or Not To Be?
Harbor Walk Moving Forward, Developer Insists By Lynne Jeter Contributing Writer
hen asked about Harbor Walk, the $750 million development underway at the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Ridgeland, John Burwell was decisively upbeat. “Oh yes, this project is going forward,” Burwell says enthusiastically. “I’m eight years into this development, and it will get done. The bottom line is, in this financial quagmire, nobody’s lending money and I’ve got to find somebody that has access. Some people are very frustrated with me, saying ‘when are you going to do something?’ Well, I’ve spent $25 million and I thought I’d done something, but they don’t see the new piers, the demolition that we’ve done. They don’t know I bought $1 million in more land at the reservoir last July and things like that.” While he continues shopping around for investors in the sourest economy the business community has seen in decades, Burwell maintains constant contact with Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee, a staunch supporter of the project, and developers of similar projects around the country. The media has vacillated between shining the spotlight on Burwell to allowing him to remain low-key. “When they talk about all these developments going on around here, they don’t even mention me anymore,” he says, “which is fine because I don’t get (someone) sneaking up out here trying to ambush me for something. But we’re going to have a story as soon as we get some financing. I talked to the president of the hotel group yesterday, and the guy who runs the Riverwalk in San Antonio this morning. Gene had met with him last weekend and wanted me to call him. I’m turning over every rock.” Burwell returns calls daily about inquiries concerning the condominium component of the development. “There’s no question about the interest in our project,” he says. “People stop by here all the time. I could give you 50 names of people who want condos that call me regularly. An ex-governor called me the other day to take me to lunch. He said, ‘I want to buy a condo’ and I said, we need to talk about building it first.” Burwell said the size of the project hasn’t changed. If he had a wish list, he’d begin by constructing condominium and office buildings—one each—for roughly $150 million. “The hotel would be $50 million, but they’re paying for that. How you slice it and dice it, I don’t know. When you have the condo and office space, then you’re ready to go with everything else. I’ve got restaurant people, those
wanting to do spas, calling me ready to go.” When people ask Burwell if he’s done a feasibility study, he directs them to his website to “pull that map. Look and see where everything is within that 7-mile radius. I’ve got Reunion on the northwest; Dogwood’s on the southeast. There are five new hotels down at Dogwood, two hotels at Renaissance, and one more coming. I’m dead square in the middle of that. If P.F. Chang’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods and J.C. Penney’s and Kohl’s have done feasibility studies, why do I need to do one? They have a 100-question checklist. They’ve already done the homework over and over again.” When a low-level bank employee asked for his FICO score recently, Burwell balked. “Excuse me? I said, I’ll be happy to send you six years of tax returns and show you where we’ve spent $25 million. ‘But sir, we need your FICO score.’ I said, look, we’ve already discussed there aren’t going to be any personal guaranties. I understand it’s the way they do business, and right now, it’s CYA in the banking industry. They’ve hunkered down.” Burwell admitted he’s frustrated the project has stalled. “It’s a bit baffling to me that somebody will build an office building at Renaissance … or Township on Highland Colony … but they’re telling me they can’t do it over here. It doesn’t make sense. Over there, it’s just another deal with a different name and a different wrinkle. I’m on the water. I have cheap land. It’s a one-of-a-kind project in the country. I’ve had people from California to Maine tell me that. You couldn’t find another body of water inside the city that you could afford to buy as much land as I’ve got, and to have a permitting authority that’s my landlord. They are behind me 1,000 percent. I’ve got the best story in the country. This is a unique situation and somebody’s going to figure it out.” In the meantime, there’s blood in the water everywhere, Burwell says. “It’s a great time to build,” he notes. “Costs have gone down everywhere. I can get anybody I want to work on this project. They’ll be happy to work six days a week to expedite it, so the interest cost is less.” Burwell insists the Harbor Walk development will come to fruition. “This thing will mushroom out of here and be the greatest project that’s ever happened to the state of Mississippi,” he says. “It’s not because of me. It’s because it’s a great project.” - GJB Greater Jackson Business - 13
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Greater Jackson Business - 15
E N T R E P R E N E U R S
Steve Smith iCandy Custom Clothiers owner believes clothes make the man BY JACK CRISS Publisher
s there anything Steve Smith can’t do? As Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management at Tougaloo College during the day, Steve Smith also is running his own custom clothing business, iCandy, among many other projects and commitments he’s juggling. Entrepreneur may not be the best word to describe this man, even though it fits. Tireless visionary might be more like it. A native of Tutwiler, MS, Smith came to Jackson in 1983 on a football scholarship 16 - Greater Jackson Business
to Jackson State University. Smith played safety for the Tigers while getting his Mass Communications Undergraduate Degree. He subsequently received his Masters in Education Administration Leadership from JSU and has been in education ever since with a few stints spent in the corporate and non-profit sector. Smith is now a candidate for his Ph.D. in Education Administration Leadership and is about a year out in that process. Smith has also found the time to run his
own side business, a clothing company called iCandy Custom Clothiers, in February of 2009. “I have always believed you should dress better than you have to and I’ve always loved good, quality clothing,” Smith says, explaining the motives behind the business. “I had an opportunity to look at the custom clothing business as something to do on the side. After a joint venture with a company that didn’t quite work out, I researched the industry for about a year and decided that I would start my own custom clothing business as an entrepreneur. I decided that my target market would be up and coming young guys, young men who had not quite made it. I wanted the clothes to be affordable for that target group but, also, for the man who did already dress well but perhaps spent too much on his own suits. It’s a myth that custom suits are expensive; they’re not. They’re more affordable and fit much better than anything you could buy off the rack.” In his mission to help young men “dress for success,” Smith mentions one individual specifically. “This kid had never owned a suit in his life, not until I did a custom one for him,” Smith says, “and now that’s all he wants to wear! It has totally changed not only his appearance but his outlook on life and self-esteem for the better. I tell young people about some of my own life experiences like the fact that I got a job solely on the basis that I wore a suit everyday and my peers wore khakis. I got
the nod because of the fact that I dressed well. Not only because of that, of course; I had to speak well and know what I was doing. But I got the chance because of the way I dressed and I always try to instill that lesson on the young men I meet with and speak to.” iCandy Custom Clothiers primarily offers suits and shirts, Smith says. “My suits range from Super 1-20’s to Super 1-40’s in terms of the degree of fabric. My shirts are cotton blend, cotton mixture and pure Egyptian cotton. All of my clothes are fitted specifically for the individual which is what makes my business different. Two men could wear the same size suit, say, a 44 long, but they have different body types; it’s going to fit different. By the time you have it tailored, the price goes way up. The great thing about custom suits is that the design is exactly the way you want it and the fit is perfect. With a custom suit you also have features like surgical cuffs, which allow you to roll up your suit sleeves while you eat, for example. The pinstripes should always meet at the top of your coat jacket on the shoulders which they do on a custom suit.” Smith does all the measuring for his customers, having taught himself the procedure. His wife, Crystal, who is the CFO of iCandy, also helps with measuring. “One day, in fact, we will also start providing ladies’ clothing but, at this point, it’s strictly for the men,” Smith says. Why the name iCandy? Smith laughs, “I was actually sitting in church one Sunday morning
and the name hit me. When a lady describes a good looking man she’ll say, ‘That’s a nice piece of eye candy, and I thought that might be a good fit.” Smith says that clothing has always been a passion for him so this side company is not really work at all. “My customers are always satisfied because I make sure they’re happy,”
because they share my love of, and admiration for, good clothing.” Married to the aforementioned former Crystal Ballard for 18 years, Smith and his wife are the proud parents of six children: two boys in college, two girls in the middle and sixmonth old twins. So to sum up: Smith works a full time job at Tougaloo, is working towards
he says. “These suits are high quality, they last, and I give my clients all the attention to detail I can to make sure they look their best.” Smith says he can envision the day where iCandy is his sole occupation…maybe. “Everything would have to be just right for me to make that kind of commitment,” he says. “Right now, I’m totally focused on my work here at Tougaloo and on obtaining my Ph.D. However, I would also love to leave this business to my kids, especially my sons,
his Ph.D, helps raise six children and also has a business on the side, “I wouldn’t trade any of it – not usually, anyway!” he laughs. “The most satisfying part of owning and operating iCandy is when a customer puts that suit on and it fits perfectly, exactly the way he wanted it or better,” Smith says. “After the two week turnaround period, it’s always great for me to get the suit to my customer and see their pride in what I’ve helped produce for them. I love that feeling.” - GJB
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Greater Jackson Business - 17
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18 - Greater Jackson Business
GJB_1/3ad2009_Layout 1 12/9/09 1:39 PM Page 1
Robinson - From Page 6 participate in local chamber activities. I love working for Trustmark, I must add. So many of the people who work for this wonderful organization have been here all of their working lives, and I believe that speaks volumes as to the type of company Trustmark is. Many Trustmark associates have worked for the company for 30 or 40 years; I hope I can say that at some point as well.” Robinson is also very active in her community, participating in various volunteer activities with many civic organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Trustmark’s Adopt-ASchool program and Habitat for Humanity, just to name a few. She is also a Diplomat with the Flowood Chamber of Commerce and serves on the promotions and events committee. Robinson and her husband Earl have an eight-year-old daughter, Amaya (“She is in the gifted program at her school,” the proud mother points out), and they attend Pinelake Church in Brandon. The Robinson family enjoys traveling and various other familyoriented activities. One of her personal hobbies, Robinson admits, is shopping. Another activity high on her list of favorites, surprisingly maybe, is bowling. “I love to bowl,” she laughs. “It’s a great stress reliever!” Ty Robinson is an example of the sharp and conscientious young Metro executive who will one day be at the top of her profession. Business-savvy, yes, and a successful manager, but she is also a genuinely nice person who cares about the customers with whom she interacts daily. “I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” she says.
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Greater Jackson Business - 19
C O M M E N T A R Y
Living the good life... downtown “W BY JULIE SKIPPER Contributing Columnist
A native of Meridian, MS, Julie Skipper is the Development Officer for the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson. She graduated summa cum laude from Millsaps College with a degree in art history and received her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. After returning to Jackson, she practiced law for three years until starting her current position. Julie is actively involved in the Jackson community. She is a proud resident of downtown. She currently serves as chair of the YP Alliance, a board member of the Women’s Fund of Mississippi, on the advisory council for Downtown Jackson Partners, a board member of the Jackson Progressives, and president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association. She is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Greater Jackson.
20 - Greater Jackson Business
hat’s going on?” a woman asked me as she and two companions walked down Congress Street one recent Saturday afternoon. She looked at the stage in the middle of the street and the band conducting sound check. “We’re having a block party for Halloween,” I answered. She looked a little puzzled. “Um…just…who is?” “Our neighborhood association is putting it on,” I explained. Her eyes lit up with surprise. “Oh! People live down here? In lofts and stuff?” Although this was a group of out-of-towners exploring downtown, I often get the same reaction from people who live in other areas of the Metro. I love when people react that way, because it’s an opportunity to talk about all that’s going on in the heart of our capital city. That night, several hundred folks from all over Jackson were at the party. It was fantastic to see such a large group having a great time, in downtown, at night! (And yes, it was totally safe.) But the coolest part? That’s not an anomaly. On any given day or night, there are hundreds of people out and about in downtown. There’s a line of people out the door waiting to get in at a new live music venue on President Street. There are people packing into a new blues joint on Farish Street. There are crowds enjoying ArtRemix. Lunches outside the Pinnacle Building with live music. Thursdays at the Plaza. Jazz, Art, and Friends. And on, and on. Things just keep building off of each other, and the people involved collaborate and support one another. The ideas keep coming, and the energy keeps building. When I moved here, I longed for an area of town where I could park my car and walk to different venues. Not long ago, sitting on the patio with my neighbors, I realized two things: First, downtown Jackson is the first place I’ve lived as an adult where I know my neighbors, hang out with them, and have a real sense of community and pride in my neighborhood. And it’s not just my neighbors – I have relationships with all the people here – the police officers, the Block by Block Ambassadors, the proprietors of businesses – all of whom are committed to working together to make this a vibrant, fun, and safe place to live, work, and play. Second, we now have what I used to wish for! From my apartment, I can walk to Hal & Mal’s, Martin’s, Underground 119, the Mayflower, Tye’s, F. Jones Corner…and it’s only going to keep coming. In December, we’ll celebrate the opening of the King Edward, and, in January, welcome 64 new residents. It’s going to be amazing. But what’s even better is that I can’t just point to one thing that’s the most exciting in downtown, as what will make this place thrive. There’s the King Edward, but there’s also the Standard Life Building, the Convention Complex, the Arts complex, and Old Capitol Green. There’s a young man who moved back to Jackson from Dallas because he’d always dreamed of opening a restaurant in downtown Jackson, and now he’s doing it. It’s not one thing; it’s everything. And it’s not exciting just because it’s my neighborhood: It’s exciting because this is everyone who lives in the Metro’s downtown. Really, it’s Mississippi’s downtown. As it grows and thrives, so will our whole area. Those of us who live (or just play) in it are constantly energized by what is here. If you haven’t been downtown recently, come see it. Like those out-of-towners, you’ll be surprised...in a good way. - GBJ
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M A R I A N N A O N M A R K E T I N G
Are you sending out the wrong message? L
ast month, my partner, Andy ChapThese are the people receiving the message who man, and I sat down with a group want and/or need your message. of community leaders in an eastern 3. MESSAGE: This is the communication via Michigan community. We were there words, images, sound, etc. made in the advertiseto help them brainstorm community branding ment. and marketing strategies. As part of the process, 4. MEDIA: A channel to send a message, such as I strongly endorsed some specific applications of the local newspaper. several non-traditional media, including FaceFor years, I have consistently observed the book and Twitter. wrongful placement of “media selection” in the After the meeting, an attendee confronted me marketing planning process. All too often, busiabout my pro-social media stance. As the owner nesses choose media first, and then backtrack of the only local newspaper, she questioned my into the message. Even worse, message developstance as a local business advocate based on “my ment is commonly relocated to an afterthought. BY MARIANNA HAYES obvious favor for social media tools.” She argued When this happens, unfortunately, the media, in Contributing Columnist that while I was growing some of the local busithis case the local newspaper, is left carrying the nesses with these tools, I was shutting down anburden for the sin of the advertiser. other (in reference to her print publication). I Recently, the consequences of this sin have been listened, nodded my head, and politely internalized the flippant rebut- exacerbated by the emergence of new media, social media, and social tals that came to mind, and went on with my day…challenged. messages. Business buzz is built around conversations that are happen Later the same day, during the question and answer session at busi- ing about businesses on-line and off. In essence, coffee shop chatter ness marketing seminar, a hand shot up in the back of the auditorium. has taken an espresso shot thanks to the social web. When prompted, I heard a gentlemen, whose face was hidden by the Despite all of the obvious changes and advantages New and Social stage lights, ask me: “Should I advertise in the local newspaper?” Media have introduced into the world of marketing, especially during Here we go again, I thought. I first encountered this question ten the past couple of years, some things never change. years ago, when at the conclusion of my very first speaking engageI hate to state the obvious, but when it comes to the quest for success ment, an attendee asked me the same question. At this point, I’ve had for your business, you must plan marketing by defining the marketing that question asked of me more times than I can remember. elements in the correct order. First and foremost, you cannot choose The Real Question a media first! Let’s be honest. The question folks are really asking is about the Instead, you must first (and do not minimize this step) define who functional use of advertising. They might as well say, “Does advertis- you are as a business. Specifically, define what experience you are selling in a newspaper still work?” Or some might be wondering, “Why ing. don’t I get a response from my newspaper ads?” At the end of the day, Next, identify your target audience. Who needs or wants what you the question really being asked has little to do with the newspaper and are offering? Think about your top ten customers. What are their much to do with the advertising placed in it. unique or defining characteristics or demographics? Learn as much At the risk of oversimplifying, I find that advertising failures tend to as you can about them, and seek to clone them with your marketing boil down to this: People get confused about the purpose of media in outreach efforts. an overall marketing plan. Now, it’s time to craft that marketing message. What can you say I’ll explain what I mean by reviewing the key elements of the adver- that will stop your target audience in their tracks, grab their attention, tising process: and motivate them to action? What action will move them along your 1. ADVERTISER: The business or organization that is placing the ad- sales funnel? What do you need people to do and how can you ask vertisement. These are the people sending the message. it in such a way that your target audience is likely to respond? What 2. TARGET: The audience targeted for exposure to the advertisement. message will allow your customers an easy “point of entry” to engage 24 - Greater Jackson Business
or interact with your business? What message will reach out to your target customers and allow them to begin to build a relationship with your organization? Choosing Media Finally, with target audience and message in hand, it’s finally time to choose the medium or media to “transmit” your message from you to your target audience. Without all of the other marketing elements in place prior to media selection, you’ve set yourself up for failure before you even send the message. I’m the first to admit that media selection is drastically different now than it was ten years ago. Today, marketing messages can be crafted for the local newspaper – and a coordinating message can be placed on a Facebook® page. Or on a blog. Or on Twitter. Or on a web site. Or on YouTube. Or through a photo album on Flickr. Or maybe on yard signs or at a local event. The options are diverse, accessible and affordable to many. Sending the Right Message I believe marketing messages should be overwhelmingly social and that the media through which they’re sent should encourage opportunities to interact and build relationships. Any media, used correctly or in concert with a Social Media, can accomplish this end. To be sure, however, the best messages will fail when sent through a media mismatch, and the best media (new or old) will fail if the message doesn’t resonate. Thinking back to my Michigan seminar audience and the gentlemen who asked the question, “Should I advertise in the local newspaper?” I quipped back quickly, “You’re asking the wrong question.” I continued, “I have a sneaking suspicion that at the end of the day, your problems have nothing to do with the local newspaper and everything to do with the message you put in it.” How about you? How will your marketing look in 2010? - GJB Marianna Hayes Chapman is a nationally-recognized marketing coach, trainer and speaker at Team HALO. Marianna and her husband, Andy Chapman, advise clients on a broad range of marketing-related decisions including the crafting of exceptional marketing messages for new media and the social web. See www.facebook.com/TeamHALO or www.halobusiness. com or www.twitter.com/resultsrev.
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www.greaterjacksonbusiness.com Greater Jackson Business - 25
E N T R E P R E N E U R
He wants to build on the drum all day: Clinton based drummer creates unique instrument, company BY JACK CRISS
ong known as one of the Metro area’s premier live and session drummers, having played and worked with Radio London, Johnny Crocker, Gilmore and many others, Joe Partridge has turned his love of percussion into a living – with impressive results. The Famous Drum Company, a business venture Partridge co-owns with fellow Jackson drum legend, George Lawrence, “builds exemplary drums that demand attention in terms of both aesthetics and function” (Modern Drummer magazine, November 2009). Yes, Partridge actually builds the drums – and the beat is starting to be heard all over the music community.. “George and I got together one day in late 2005 to discuss my hobby of building drums and had, for several years, entertained the idea of forming a company called Famous Drums to distribute what I had built. I really don’t know why I chose that particular name,” Partridge laughs, “but I thought it was catchy. Anyway, we started talking, and over the course of several months we decided to give it a go. “
26 - Greater Jackson Business
Prior to that fateful meeting, though, Partridge says that he had conceived of the “crazy” idea to build a drum out of a 2 x 4. “It seemed like the ultimate redneck statement,” he chuckles, “just to see if I could do it! I casually mentioned this to George during that same meeting and he, not too enthusiastically, agreed to take a look at it once it was built. So, I built it, sent it out and then, lo and behold, he loved it – thought it had a great sound.” This led to the two business partners looking into ways, after having it trademarked, to promote the 2x4 drum built by Partridge in a one-man shop behind his house. The reception to the new drum and the new company was slow at first. However, Lawrence bought the magazine Not So Modern Drummer in late 2007 from Bill Ludwig, III, he of the famous Ludwig Drum Company family, and the company suddenly had a built-in marketing vehicle. “It’s a subscription-only publication but it is sold at drum shops around the country,” Partridge says. “It’s a small, quarterly magazine but we’ve gone to a full color format and are starting to turn it around and increase the circulation slowly but surely.”
For the launch of Famous Drum Company, Partridge built about 50 of his drums and blanketed the country with consignment deals while simultaneously advertising in the international Modern Drummer magazine. Partridge also starting writing articles in Not So Modern Drummer magazine about the care and repair of vintage drums which helped circulate his name even more. Word did begin to spread and well known clients, such as Nashville country session/studio legend, Tommy Wells (who loved the 2x4 drum immediately, Partridge says) began to get on board with Famous Drum Company and their products. The drum retails for $650, Partridge says, but can be bought for less at certain music stores. Partridge builds according to the number of orders he receives mentioning that 30 of the drums can be built in about two weeks. Future plans include building up the Not So Modern Drummer magazine, expanding the drum line and, hopefully, opening a drum museum in Nashville. “We’ve talked to a grant writer and there is an interest in the drumming community concerning such a museum,” Partridge says. Partridge is also a member of the Mississippi Craftsmen’s Guild and his pieces are on sale and display at the Ridgeland headquarters/showroom. “I’ve developed a reputation in the Guild for making spherical objects such as globes and odd-shaped sculptures and furniture,” Partridge says. “I’m an entrepreneur and really enjoy making a living out of creating things with my hands.” As for playing music again and going on the road? Partridge says he and band mates have discussed a possible Radio London (a very popular, early 80’s band) reunion gig in the not-too-distant future – but it would probably be only a one time shot. “My main focus is on the Famous Drum Company and our magazine,” he tells us. “A Radio London show or two would be great and a lot of fun and will probably happen at some point; but only for fun.” From renowned local drummer extraordinaire to well-respected craftsman to adventurous entrepreneur, Joe Partridge’s career is a testament to one man’s passion for what he truly loves and the results show. - GJB
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INTERVIEW BY GREATER JACKSON BUSINESS
ississippi may not be as wellknown as Silicon Valley for its software innovations, but the state has long been known for the generosity of its people, topping the ranks of per-capita giving as a percentage of income among even the wealthiest states. Recently, Metro-based 10Beyond.com, launched its services, providing organizations and the people who donate to them with a unique way of using technology to spread goodwill and the spirit of philanthropy. David Russell of Madison is Founder and CEO of 10Beyond. com David, how did the idea for 10Beyond.com begin? Well, four years ago on October 5, 2005, barely six weeks after Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, I was struck by the tremendous outpouring of support and compassion across 28 - Greater Jackson Business
the U.S. As the country pulled together to help the victims of this devastating hurricane, I noted the many banners placed on countless web sites that encouraged more giving and more support. Most of these invitations to give were one-dimensional: once I made my donation, that was it. I didn’t really know what kind of impact my little amount may have had. I wanted to feel that my small donation was somehow influential in creating more giving. That’s when I ran across the story of Einar Holboell, a Danish postmaster who in 1903 conceived of a remarkable idea for raising money for the street children in Denmark.
He thought, “What if every Christmas card carried an extra stamp that raised awareness and money for poor children?” The first year the stamps were offered, Danes purchased 4 million of them. Eventually the idea spread across the continent and became what we now know as Christmas Seals®. I believed that the idea could be brought into the 21st century, especially after discovering that nearly 65 billion emails are sent every day. Just imagine the money and awareness that could be raised if even a small percentage of that volume carried a special stamp that represented a real donation to a nonprofit cause. With 150 million Americans using email daily, it wouldn’t require a big donation to make a huge difference. Each of us can make one small donation, and given the viral nature of email, we can inspire others by our act of kindness. Our name, 10Beyond, comes from our belief that each of us has the capacity to inspire ten others beyond ourselves to give to a cause we are passionate about. Just think of it: if one person can inspire even just ten others to support their cause, and those ten each inspire ten more, imagine the difference that would make. How does 10Beyond.com work for someone who wants to make a donation? Visitors to our website can make a donation to any nonprofit in the United States. It can be the local PTA or an international organization. For a minimum donation of ten dollars, they can customize a donation tag that installs as a signature on their outgoing emails. The donation tags can feature the logo of the nonprofit or the donor’s own uploaded image, and can include a short personal message from the donor. The tag becomes a personal, yet subtle, expression of support for their favorite cause. Then, recipients of these emails can click on the tag, learn more about the nonprofit, and make a donation too. And here’s the fun part: we report to the sender the number of people and donations that his donation tag has inspired. So, someone could multiply a ten dollar donation hundreds
of times over just by doing something they already do a lot of – sending and replying to emails – without ever having to ask anyone to give. How does this help nonprofit organizations? 10Beyond.com provides a means for nonprofits to enlist their most passionate supporters as “friendraisers.” By giving tools for current donors to attract new ones, 10Beyond.com lets nonprofits focus more on their charitable purpose, and less on fundraising. And because we focus on smaller, recurring donations in the $10-$25 per month range, we can help the nonprofit raise money more efficiently by aggregating all of these smaller donations and sending the nonprofit a single check. But isn’t fundraising as much about relationships with donors as it is in getting money? Absolutely, so in addition to processing multiple donations for them, we also give our member nonprofits – those who have created an account on our website – their own login with access to tools that let them connect with the donors who give to them through 10Beyond.com. How does 10Beyond make money? Is it non-profit? 10Beyond is a Mississippi for-profit company that makes money by processing donations for nonprofits. We charge from 5-8% of the donated amount depending on the number of donors a particular nonprofit has through 10Beyond.com. So, for a $25.00 donation, we send a minimum of $23.00 to the nonprofit, which is very cost-efficient for them. Are donations made through 10Beyond.com tax deductible? We preserve the deduction for the donor because we are only acting as their agent, directing their donation to the organization that they choose. However, each individual should check with his or her tax advisor on the deductibility of their contribution. So how does a donor or a nonprofit get started? Just go to our website at www.10beyond. com. We have a link from the homepage for nonprofits and donors can start with a simple search for their favorite nonprofit, make a quick donation, and begin promoting their favorite cause with every email they send. It’s easy, but it’s a subtle yet powerful way to inspire others to give. - GJB
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E X C L U S I V E
Turning Adversity into Success Business Survival in Today’s Economy
BY MARK A. CHINN Contributing Writer
here are few businesses that have not suffered in the economy which some experts say started plunging into recession in November of 2007. This recession reached its peak when the markets exploded downward in the Fall of 2008. This makes any business person ask, “How do I survive in this environment, with the whole financial world seeming to collapse around me?” In this article, I will outline some solutions to this problem of survival. These solutions have been gleaned from many years of operating my own family law practice and reading and writing and speaking on topics of practice management.
32 - Greater Jackson Business
Tip 1. Carefully examine your business model and service. When there are cash flow problems, the first fear that any entrepreneur has is that he has done something to ruin his business. This fear is paralyzing at times and totally unproductive. The way to deal with this fear is to call a meeting of your trusted partners or employees and ask some questions and discuss them. These are some questions you can ask: n Is there anything wrong with what we are trying to do here? n Are we delivering the service that we promise? n Have we had complaints that we need to address?
n Is there anything fundamentally wrong with the clientele we have been trying to reach? Odds are that the conclusion of this meeting will be that there is nothing wrong with your business model or service. From this conclusion, you can then go forward with confidence to address the things affecting you from the outside. Tip 2. Create a plan and identify the final safety net. There is a temptation in crises to try and solve the problem all at once; to look for the “silver bullet” solution and go for it. Such a response might be a knee jerk decision to cut overhead by laying off significant numbers of employees who are really essential to delivering your companies service. This can be a big mistake. Instead, break your solutions to the problem into phases and identify when each phase might be necessary. This will create a more methodical and measured response which is less likely to detract from your firm’s ability to deliver service, or which might destroy morale. Here is an example: Phase 1. Cut unnecessary expenses and lay off fringe or non-essential personnel. – Arrange credit line. – Identify sources of funds for emergency. Phase 2. Make significant overhead cuts, which would include salary and benefit reductions. Ask the employees for help and input into how they think this should be accomplished. In other words, empower your associates and employees to help save the company. Re-examine the products of the company, the pricing, and the targeted clientele. Make changes which may increase cash flow but which will not significantly change the company brand of product or service. Phase 3. More serious salary reductions or layoffs. This may involve a trimming of previously critical employees. Look for other expense cuts that were previously thought to be untouchable, such as health insurance for employees or pension matching programs. Phase 4. Cut overhead to bare minimum and look at other areas of business previously eschewed to see if the economy has opened up another business niche after closing your previous niche. Phase 5. Determine the bottom line of survival. For most professionals, this
may mean getting rid of all overhead and operating out of the home. Talk to people who already operate like that and find out what their lifestyle is like. You may find that lifestyle attractive, and therefore a solid safety net. In other words, there is no final disaster if everything doesn’t work out the way you planned. Tip 3. Cut expenses. Over the last 30 years that I have studied and practiced business, the thinking has generally been that the entrepreneur’s mentality should not be focusing on cuts in overhead, but increases in revenue. In other words, don’t count paper clips. Focus on getting clients in the door who will want to reward you financially for your service. This particular crisis requires a different mindset in my opinion. This is a time to cut expenses. This is a time to throw some things overboard and make the ship lighter. The way to start cutting expenses is to make a commitment to develop a new mentality of saving expense and money where ever possible. This should be done on both a personal and business level. I think many of us today remember that our parents had that mentality and maybe so did we, but most people lost that mentality in the business frenzy of the last 30 years. Start by making cuts of nonessentials. You might cut the fresh flowers in your reception room, or the music on hold. You might cut personal expenses by eating at home more often or depriving yourself of simple luxuries such as a golf cart or a beauty treatment. Cutting such expenses may not put a very big dent in the budget, but it will create a positive feeling that you are taking action to respond to the crisis. Tip 4. Get help. Your associates, partners and even employees want to help. They know your business and they care about its success. They can give you answers that you would never think of. One way to do this is to meet with just a few of your most trusted associates or employees. Share the problems with them. Let them know what the company is facing. Tell them that cuts to overhead are generally not going to be significant until salaries and benefits are reduced. Tell them the choices you see. For example, one choice would be to lay off a number of people. Another would be to cut salaries by a percentage. Another would be cutting time worked or the taking of nonpaid vacations or sabbaticals. If you get positive feedback from your trusted group, ask them if they think the rest of the group would like to be involved. If that seems to be a positive avenue, have your trusted employees arrange a meeting of all of the employees and discuss the alternatives and come up with some solutions. Business books and coaches have preached for years that if you want to know how to create incentives for
your employees, “just ask them what they want.” The same is true for how to respond to a crisis. Ask the employees how they would like to respond. This will empower them and create ownership, which will be positive for them and the business. Tip 5. Ropes course rules. Entrepreneurs are much like jungle animals: always on the alert for danger and disaster. This quality helps the entrepreneur be aware of what he needs to do to be successful. It also helps them to anticipate difficulty and plan ahead. Unfortunately, this quality can also be his enemy, because it can cause the entrepreneur to focus on the negative problem and not the positive solution. One example I use for this comes from a day when I participated in a ropes course exercise. I am afraid of heights. But one day I was asked to participate in a ropes course with a group. This required me to climb a wall and then navigate various ropes and wires strung a distance between trees about thirty feet in the air. Of course, participants are protected from real danger by protective wires, but the height and difficulty play with the mind. Though terrified of heights, I had no choice but to do the exercise because I wanted no one to know I had fear. On the first tight wire, I learned the following rules which I coach my clients to use in getting through adversity: “Take one step at a time.” “Focus on your goal (i.e. the other tree).” “Don’t look down” (meaning, don’t allow yourself to think about how far you might fall). “Remember, there is always a safety net.” (meaning, even if you fall, you are not likely to fall all the way to the group). Tip 6. Stay positive. Our firm follows the motto that we “turn adversity into success.” We coach our clients in maintaining a positive attitude through difficult times and looking for ways to create a better life out of the storm. One image we like to use is the image of a surfer before a hurricane. Remember Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel standing at the point on the beach where the eye of the hurricane is expected? Almost without exception, he tells the camera to “pan back” to catch surfers taking advantage of the high pre-hurricane surf. These surfers are turning a destructive storm into the ride of a lifetime. We coach ourselves to handle difficulties in our practice by looking for ways to turn what appears to be an unfortunate outcome or response into a positive. We ask ourselves, “How can we turn this into an opportunity?” There are two aspects to this approach that are essential to remember. The first is that it is important to realistically appraise the danger. Keeping a positive attitude does not mean burying your head in the sand. The second aspect is that worrying about danger is a waste of time and can actually defeat you efforts to survive. Your mindset should be the
same as John Elway facing a last minute drive for a touchdown and that probably sounds something like this in the huddle: “Okay guys, you know what we need to do, now let’s go do it.” Tip 7. Work vigorously. Our firm coaches our clients that adversity is best faced by paying close attention to the health of their minds, their bodies and their spirits. This is also the motto on the wall of the YMCA. It is always good to pay attention to your overall health, but in crisis, it is absolutely essential. It is well documented that physical activity improves the immune system and produces endorphins and other body chemicals that raise a person’s spirits and capacities. Join a gym aerobics or fitness class or hire a trainer and attend the training religiously three times a week for at least an hour. Train so hard you have to sit down for 20 mintues before you can even make it to the car or shower. Intense training will clear your mind and give you confidence. This will help you deal with crisis. Tip 8. Take it one day at a time. After evaluating your situation and developing plans for how to deal with it, take things one day at a time. Remember the ropes course image and just put one foot in front of the other. If you try to run to the next tree, you are likely to fall. Instead of thinking, “Oh my goodness, I need $50,000 in the next three weeks or I’m going under,” focus on what you can do today. Instead of focusing on all of the business you might need in the next thirty days to survive, focus solely on getting that next client. This mind set is so crucial to life, we find it all over in the spiritual and faith world. Those who study yoga are familiar with the concept of meditating on “being present.” In the JudeoChristian world, this philosophy is found in the Bible with scriptures such as “This is the day the Lord hath made, rejoice and be glad in it.” Or, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow.” Conclusion. This is a different time. The ways of the past twenty or thirty years will not aid entrepreneurs in survival today. The mindset must turn from going full speed and spending whatever it takes, to getting lean and focusing on net profit instead of big dollars. Survival is not for the faint of heart and it does not come naturally to most. Anyone who wishes to survive must develop new habits and be willing to take unpleasant steps, such as terminating valued employees. The survivor must accurately appraise his danger but never focus on it. The survivor becomes the conqueror when he practices an attitude of turning adversity into success. - GJB Mark A. Chinn operates a family law practice in Jackson. He is the author or co- author of five books including How to Build and Manage a Family Law Practice, published by the American Bar Association. For more on Mark see www.chinnandassociates.com. Greater Jackson Business - 33
A Restaurant to Feed Your Soul? Promoting life skills through the dining industry
BY TOM RAMSEY Contributing Writer
can teach someone how to cook. I can teach someone how to wait tables or wash dishes. I can even teach someone to do everything that I do, but I can’t teach them how to show up on time and ready to work.” This is how my friend Dan Blumenthal described some of the headaches associated with running a restaurant. Dan should know; he and his partner, Jeff Good, own and operate three local eateries and a commercial bakery and employ over 165 people in full time and part time positions. Dan could be in line to get some help with his problem if a group of people at St. Andrew’s Cathedral get their way. A group of St. Andrew’s parishioners, led by Kathy Woodliff, formed a partnership with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and several other churches and community organizations to develop and operate the Diverse City Diner, a weekday lunchservice establishment envisioned for downtown Jackson. The vision and goals of the restaurant will be to educate young men and women, not only with the skills necessary for a successful career in the foodservice industry, but also with life skills that will enable them to break out of the crushing cycle of poverty and become contributors to, and participants in, the growth of the Jackson community. The concept, pioneered in New Orleans by Café Reconcile, is simple: The restaurant employs at-risk youth (ages 16-22) who have dropped out of high school or who have sentencing requirements within the juvenile justice system. Instead of just putting them in an entry level job to sink or swim on their own, the program provides youth mentoring services, personal finance training, parenting skills, child care services and other programs aimed at bettering all aspects of life. When individuals apply for a slot in the program they have to make a long term commitment and agree to all of the program’s requirements. Participants spend an initial nine weeks in the “Level 1” program and have the option to enroll in the six week “Level 2” program for further specialized training. In the first level, the participants work in several positions as servers, hosts, prep cooks, etc. in the restaurant. Level 2 will allow participants to specialize in a food preparation or restaurant management skill set. The food service and preparation curriculum will include conversations with area restaurateurs and assistance in employment placement upon program completion. Local restaurateur Patrick Kelly, owner of Julep and Mint restaurants, is excited about the project. “I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes to us when we can hire people who know the business and have a strong work ethic,” Kelly says. In addition to these already lofty goals of Diverse City Diner, the group also wants to use the restaurant as a platform to promote local, organic and sustainable agriculture, healthy eating practices as well as community and racial reconciliation. But before they can make strides to try and change the world, they have to get the doors open. Ideally, the group would like to open the restaurant in a downtown location but is also considering using the kitchen and Parish Hall of St. Andrew’s Cathedral as a temporary location. Although not ideal, the plan to use the Cathedral space would allow the project to get started while further funding is secured through grants and donations. If you are interested in working with Diverse City Diner, call St. Andrew’s Cathedral for more information. - GJB Tom Ramsey is a longtime resident of Jackson, Mississippi. He is a lobbyist and a partner in the firm Athena Government Relations, which represents local, regional and national clients in their lobbying efforts at the State Capitol. In addition to helping his clients craft policy and legislation, Ramsey is also a cooking instructor at the Viking Cooking School where his work causes considerably less heartburn.
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E C O N O M Y
Housing Vacancy Rates Too High
BY STACEY WALL Contributing Writer
lthough total home sales have increased 23.9% from January’s low, real progress on clearing the excess supply of housing units from the market remains elusive. Sales have risen in part because swarms of speculators have been scouring the “sand states” (Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada) in search of shadows of the former housing bubble. In doing so, these investors have snapped up many, if not most, distressed home sales. To be sure, speculators play an important role in the economic process. They help by clearing the market and moving properties from poorly-capitalized owners to others with capital for investment. But this progression takes time. While some will succeed in these endeavors most will not. Optimists are quick to point out that the homeowner vacancy rate has declined, most notably in California, the largest housing market in the nation. California has seen its vacancy rates fall by 27% and 40% respectively over the past two quarters on a year-to-year basis. However, many of those units have ended up in the hands of investors now trying to rent them. With the possible exception of Nevada, the total vacancy rate is rising in all of the “sand states”. As a result of increasing rental vacancy rates across most of the country, the total vacancy rate for the U.S. climbed to a record 13.7% in the third quarter. In the meantime, the immediate future for the national housing market remains cloudy at best. The bottom line is there is still too much vacancy in the U.S. housing market. - GJB Stacey Wall serves as President & CEO of Pinnacle Trust. His email address is email@example.com
Greater Jackson Business - 35
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If you want to learn how to cook, where you cook, Ivy & Devine can show you the way. Our available menus range from basics as simple as Water Boiling and Bread Toasting 101 to the complex techniques and exotic ingredients featured in Deconstruction Junction. Classes can be taught as a demonstration or as a full get-your-hands-dirty experience for up to six people. We even have classes designed specifically for bachelors and children.
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© 2009 AmFed Companies
BRINGING A NEW VIEW TO THIRD PARTY ADMINISTRATION When it comes to Third Party Administration, AmFed is leading the way. Whether you need help in claims handling or you’re looking for a top-to-bottom insurance provider. We work every day to manage your needs while helping you control costs. It’s why we became Mississippi’s first choice for Workers’ Compensation Coverage and Third Party Administration services. And now that we’re a Companion Company, our reach is nationwide. So for Claims Administration, Policy Administration and Audit Administration, you’ll like the way AmFed looks.
contact us at 1.800.264.8085 or visit www.amfed.com
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F I N A N C I A L
Should I convert my Roth IRA?
T BY ROBERT DIENELT Contributing Columnist
his column title is a perplexing question many investors are asking themselves in the wake of all the new tax laws. If the opportunity is available, should an individual take a distribution from an existing IRA and roll it over to a Roth IRA? A good question, but not so fast. The first question should be; “Can I change to a Roth IRA?” Eligibility to elect a rollover from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA is limited to those with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of less than $100,000 – single filers and married filing jointly. This limit has not changed, however, it will be eliminated in 2010. What has been changed is how you calculate that $100,000 conversion threshold. Beginning in 2005, required minimum distributions were no longer included in countable income for purposes of the conversion threshold. Thus many more individuals will be able to squeeze under the $100,000 limitation. Other individuals will still be excluded from even considering a Roth rollover. In light of this, individuals with the ability to do so are likely to manipulate their compensation to fit under the current $100,000 limit. An example of this strategy might be as simple as deferring a bonus into the following tax year, or as complex as restructuring contract agreements. Regardless, the availability of a Roth rollover must be confirmed before evaluating the considerations relative to the alternative IRA strategies. OK. Let’s say the income limits of the Roth IRA are no problem. What are some of the considerations in comparing a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA? Conventional wisdom suggests that most taxpayers expect to be in a lower tax bracket when they retire. Financial planning based on this assumption would advise an individual to defer taxes to the greatest extent possible during working years, and ultimately pay the tax bill during retirement at a lower individual rate. Using this logic, converting to the Roth IRA would appear to be a less attractive strategy with taxes paid sooner, based on the individual’s current tax bracket. These days, many people are asking the question; “Will I really be in a lower tax bracket in retirement?” Some important considerations include: What is the likelihood of higher marginal tax rates in the future? Will current deductions for dependents, business expenses and or mortgage interest offset less income in retirement? Will the individual continue to work in retirement, or will they even need the income? Is the objective of the IRA to accumulate assets for heirs? Evaluating the tax impact
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of the Roth IRA vs. the traditional IRA depends on the assumptions made. Another important consideration in comparing the two alternatives is the manner in which the tax on the distribution from the existing IRA will be paid. For example, a person with a top marginal bracket of 28% is considering rolling over an existing $100,000 IRA to a Roth IRA. When the $100,000 is distributed, the tax due will be $28,000. If the comparison to the existing $100,000 IRA is made with the Roth IRA starting $72,000 ($100,000 - $28,000), the result will be much different than if the Roth IRA starts even with the traditional IRA at $100,000. In addition, if the $28,000 tax is paid from the distribution amount, the 10% premature withdrawal penalty may be applied to that amount. If the tax is paid from the proceeds of the IRA being rolled over, a true apples-to-apples comparison would start the Roth IRA at $72,000. However, if the assumption is made that the tax will be paid from some other source and the Roth IRA starts out at $100,000, the result will likely favor the Roth IRA. This is true even if a calculation is made to consider the opportunity cost of the dollars being used to pay the $28,000 tax due on the distribution from the original IRA. There are also several other considerations. The uncertainty of tax rates in the future makes this comparison increasingly complex. In addition, the age of the individual electing to roll over from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA is important since the advantage of tax-free distributions from the Roth IRA is leveraged by the length of time the dollars have to grow. The advantage of rolling over to a Roth IRA generally decreases as the age of the individual increases. Another factor is that, while the individual is alive, the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) rules have no impact on a Roth IRA. In summary, there are many variables in the traditional vs. Roth equation that should be evaluated on a situational basis. There are no simple formulas that spell out a clear decision. An individual’s IRA strategy should be integrated with their overall financial and estate plan to achieve optimal results. For many people, the guidance of a professional financial advisor will be a critical aspect in making the decision that is right for them. - GJB This material was prepared by Raymond James for use by Robert A. Dienelt, AAMS of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC).
P L A N N I N G
Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions
BY WALT DALLAS Contributing Columnist Why use a Revocable Living Trust? The revocable living trust can avoid probate and allow your assets to be managed for you in the event of incapacity. The revocable living trust can also assist in avoiding gift, estate and generation skipping taxes, teach financial stewardship to beneficiaries, set ages for distributions to beneficiaries, provide creditor protection for the beneficiaries, and allow the use of professional management. My husband did not have a Revocable Living Trust only a will and at his death there were no big problems, so why do I need a Revocable Living Trust? I would have to look at that specific situation, but if the assets were held to pass to the survivor of you, there would have been no probate at your husband’s death, and all would have been simple. This may not be the case at the second death. If title to assets is only in the surviving spouse’s name, the title would have to be probated out to the children. If probate is needed, the situation could become complex and expensive. A revocable trust can avoid the probate process, making it simple and easy to transfer title to assets after death. Is the Revocable Trust a Will Substitute? The revocable living trust acts as a will substitute and contains instructions for managing your assets during your life and also upon death. You can transfer property to the trust, maintain control and use of all the property while living. You can revoke or change the trust at any time. You can be the trustee of your trust while living and a named successor trustee will take over as trustee after your death or if you become disabled. Is the Successor Trust Important? Yes. The successor trustee is in charge of your finances, perhaps during your life if you become disabled. Generally you want a trustee with experience. Do you want on the job training with your financial future? My bank does not like the title to the real estate being in the Revocable Living Trust, what can I do? While the Trustee of the Revocable Living Trust can place a mortgage in the real estate held in the Revocable Living Trust, the banks and title companies may not want to read the Revocable Living Trust. One solution is to take the title out of the Revocable Living Trust, place the mortgage on the title and then transfer the title back into the trust. My father gave the remainder interest in his house to the children and kept a life estate. What are the tax consequences? Because of the retained income interest, the residence is included in
the taxable estate of your father for estate tax purposes and the house obtains an increase in basis for income tax purposes at his death. I’ve created an Irrevocable Trust and am interested in gifting annual exclusion amounts to decrease my taxable estate, but I am gifting in disproportional amounts for each of the children’s families. Isn’t this giving unequal amounts to my children? No, contributions into an Irrevocable Trust do not determine the ultimate ownership of the property contributed. The distribution clause in the Trust controls the ultimate disposition. The current annual exclusion amount is $13,000. For example, if you have two children, and you intend for them to be each equal beneficiaries of your trust, and one child has two children and the other child has no children, you can make a gift of up to the annual exclusion for each of them. Say you contributed $52,000 to the trust. Upon distribution from the trust, as equal beneficiaries, each child will receive ½ of the assets of the trust, or in this example (ignoring growth) $26,000. I heard that I could put his assets into a Revocable Trust, retain control and then apply for Medicaid benefits, and the assets in the trust would be protected from Medicaid? No the assets in a Revocable Trust are not protected from Medicaid. If the transfer had been to an irrevocable trust or gifted away, the technique may allow the assets to be excluded from Medicaid, subject to the applicable time frame. My aunt’s will was written by a lawyer, but it was subject to interpretation. Even though we have a simple estate, my husband and I prefer to avoid probate so that our children don’t have to go through the ordeal we did when my aunt died. How do we select a good lawyer to help with these matters? Do we need someone who only works with wills and estates? As with any professional, you want a lawyer who is experienced and knowledgeable in the area in which you need assistance. Estateplanning concepts and tax laws are constantly changing, so you need a lawyer who specializes in estate planning, rather than a generalist. What are good questions to ask? If a lawyer practices in multiple areas of law, ask what percentage of the practice is devoted to estate planning. Determine the fee arrangement. Some lawyers will bill by the hour, others will quote a fee for certain services, and others will use a combination of those billing methods. The fixed fee produces no surprises. If there will be an hourly fee, ask whether you will be given an estimate and informed in a timely manner if this estimate will be exceeded. Determine whether a retainer fee is required and if so, ask about the amount. Ask about the process the attorney uses to perform the services. Ask about the time frame for completion of the estate plan. Ask if the services include assistance in retiling assets into the trust (assets not in the trust may have to go through probate). - GJB Walt Dallas. J.D., L.L.M. (taxation) is an attorney in practice in Flowood, MS. He owns Estate Planning 123. Greater Jackson Business - 39
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S P E C I A L
Southern Farm Bureau Life’s plan for healthcare improvement The On-Site Medical Clinic
BY DAVID N. DUDDLESTON, MD Vice President & Medical Director
few years ago now, Southern Farm Bureau was struggling with an ever-increasing problem: how to impact the multiples-of-CPI inflation that healthcare expenses were presenting to us. Raise deductibles? Raise co-pay? Move out of administration and go with a health savings account system? Hire a wellness outsourcing company to “promote wellness”? Build incentives (and penalties) to push healthy living initiatives? There did not seem to be an optimal way to handle this, as healthcare costs continued to be shouldered by the large employer based “system” in the United States. Moving the financial needle toward the employees such as increasing co-pays and deductibles alone did not seem to be fair and would only create a short-term fix for the company’s benefit budget, so we were resistant to raising deductibles and other out of pocket expenses for our valuable staff. The health savings account system looks good on paper, but the level of consumer sophistication needed for that program is very high, when many employees struggle with less complex health decisions and billing procedures. Wellness programs only seemed cute, with hard-to-pin-down benefit. Time and rising 42 - Greater Jackson Business
costs plodded on. Even with an array of data, expert consultants and many years of experience, Billy Sims, our VP of Human Resources, felt stymied – a real predicament for such an optimist and leader in managing a diverse workforce. Fortunately, he met Murray Harber, a full grown Energizer Bunny with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things health. Together, Billy and Murray set a plan and a pace to carry it out, including a “walk before you run” approach to planning. Building on the culture of our company, they have cultivated health awareness with a variety of events, informal lectures, support groups, contests and even a twice-yearly Farmers’ Market here in our building. Then they found what we think is a home run – the onsite primary care clinic. The onsite clinic has these features: n A secure and comfortable facility within our building (and in our sister company locations); n Real primary care with physicians and nurse practitioners/PAs hand selected for their communication skills; n No paperwork, insurance forms, etc. Records are electronic and appointments are made online, releasing the staff to focus on patient care; n No waiting – each appointment slot of 20 minutes with the provider – is owned by the employee or dependent; n With only three patients per hour, both the patient and the provider are fulfilled with the time needed to address health issues; n Many medications (mostly generic) are dispensed at the time of the visit; n It is free – actually, the covered employees and the company pay for the clinic with their health premiums, but because the clinic saves money in many ways, the clinic can be provided with no out of pocket expense; n The clinic staff can be trained on companyspecific wellness programs and goals; n Data regarding clinic utilization and costs are provided to the health plan to allow continuous feedback and define needs. Controls such as monitoring for over-
utilization for non-medical reasons are also in place. The onsite clinic idea is not new (think Kaiser Permanente’s roots) but today’s clinic vendors have the model that works. According to industry data, first year expenses are neutral to a slight overage, followed by sustainable trend reductions. While trend (medical inflation) in traditional plans run in the 8-9% range, when a clinic is added, the trend is reduced to a 3% or better range, sustained over several years as described by various vendors. After reviewing and visiting sites of the top vendors in this burgeoning industry, we selected CareHere, founded by Ernie Clevenger and Ben Baker in Nashville. CareHere, as do some of the other vendors, provides the legal structure, the planning, the computer resources and the health team that makes up the clinic. The sponsoring company has input in the selection of providers and makes some other choices such as age range and population covered. SFB Life and its sister companies pay a fixed monthly management fee based on the number of employees in the health plan along with the floating passthrough costs of the providers, supplies and medications. CareHere is able to provide atcost volume pricing due to its large number of clinics. For instance, a blood profile including a blood count, chemistry panel and lipid panel costs us well under 1/3 the usual health plan cost. This concept works with self insured plans, generally limited to large employers, although the author would like to see this put in place with office communities who may partner in a clinic. The model has also been very successful with government entities such as county and city governments. One could even see this concept as a model for healthcare delivery for populations in a given area (Washington, take note). Our clinics opened in July 2009 and have already improved productivity and a sense of value among employees. It is our hope that the Farm Bureau companies will be able to continue educating our employees on health issues, providing incentives for health improvement (using health coaches provided by CareHere as well) sharing our healthful culture with good choices in our cafeteria and tracking financial and clinical progress over time. The clinic will also allow us to pull in those who avoid traditional medical care due to its many barriers. To this end, we are excited to have the onsite clinic: “Farm Bureau’s portal to wellness”. - GJB For further information on this and other programs, contact Mr. Billy Sims (bsims@sfbli. com) or Mr. Murray Harber (murrayharber@ live.com).
Attorneys at Law
Expert Estate Planning Legal Services can be as Easy as 1, 2, 3! 1. Discovery Meeting 2. Assessment Meeting 3. Document Signing Celebration Flowood, MS: T. Walton Dallas, J.D., LL.M. (taxation) 601-209-8327 Phillip W. Smith, J.D., LL.M. (taxation) 601-850-9668 Jason O. McGee, Paralegal 601-940-4037
Angela W. Dallas, Marketing Director 601-260-5039 Justin T. Brumfield, Marketing Director 769-798-1123 (local) Oxford, MS: Eric Kimbrough, J.D., LL.M. (taxation) 662-234-2330
Bonnie J. Childers, Client Services Director 769-798-2123 (local)
130 Riverview Drive â€˘ Suite A â€˘ Flowood, MS 39232 We spend as much time as it takes for you to feel comfortable with your Plan.
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ARCHITECTURE & SO MUCH MORE
GRAPHIC DESIGN/MARKETING GRAPHIC DESIGN
FERGUSON & ASSOCIATES ARCHITECTS ARCHITECTURE & SO MUCH MORE ARCHITECTURE • INTERIORS • PLANNING • DEVELOPMENT • MARKETING • GRAPHIC DESIGN
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Tidy Buckets Professional Cleaning Service Opens For Business Madison, MS - Tidy Buckets, a professional commercial and residential cleaning company owned by Joe and Christi Parker, has opened for business and is providing cleaning services to residential homes, commercial properties such as offices and a variety of businesses throughout the Jackson Metro Area. Tidy Buckets creates custom, affordable programs to meet the specific cleaning needs of their clients. The company uses “green” cleaning programs in order to maintain healthier environments for its customer’s homes and businesses. As well as general cleaning services, Tidy Buckets offers lawn care and organizational services, for a fullservice package. The Parkers, have over 40 years of experience in business management. They place great emphasis on quality, customer service and client security. They use thorough training programs for their associates and follow up with quality control checks. Tidy Buckets is located in Madison, MS. For more information about Tidy Buckets’ services contact Joe or Christi at (601) 8537051 or visit them online at www.tidybuckets. com.
Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau Initiates First Ever Hospitality Certification in Nation Jackson, MS - The Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau (JCVB) is launching a new initiative, the Hospitality Certified Program©, aimed to ensure visitors’ lodging expectations are met while staying in the City with Soul. Mississippi is the first state in the nation to adopt this program statewide, and the JCVB is partnering with the Mississippi Hotel & Lodging Association (MH&LA) to implement this program in hotels and lodging locations throughout Jackson. In January 2010, JCVB officials anticipate the initiative to be in full swing. “Jackson is bursting at the seams with developments that can significantly enhance our city,” says Wanda Collier-Wilson, JCVB CEO/President. “This initiative will help meet this demand and reassure guests that the properties they are choosing for their lodging needs meet their expectations. With all the positive changes taking place in our city, we want our visitors to feel confident 46 - Greater Jackson Business
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about choosing Jackson as their place to visit. We want to put whatever methods we can into place to help with their decision-making.” The Mississippi Hospitality Certified Program© is open to all hotel properties in the state. The purpose of the program is to be inclusive of all lodgings which go above and beyond to offer a standard of quality meritorious of the guests’ expectations. Hotels in Jackson welcome the new program and see it as an incentive for hotels to maintain higher standards so they may become certified. “The Hospitality Certified Program will be an excellent way to ensure that out-oftown groups and individual travelers are able to choose quality accommodations and experience a good standard of service when visiting Jackson,” says Wes Scrape, General Manager of the Hampton Inn North of Jackson. Hotel properties interested in becoming Mississippi Hospitality Certified© can contact the Mississippi Hotel & Lodging Association to begin the process. Each lodging location is then inspected, and once certified, receives a Hospitality Certified© Seal. According to Linda Hornsby, MH&LA Executive Director, when MH&LA first introduced the concept of the Hospitality Certified Program© almost two years ago, the organization received a very warm response and endorsements from the State of Mississippi and numerous area Visitors Bureaus.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi Announces New Hire Jackson, MS - The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi announces the hiring of Cindy Cobb as Vice President of Development and Marketing. Cobb was most recently employed as the publisher of the Coffee News of Chilton County, Alabama and South Shelby where she was Owner/ Sales Manager of the publication. “We are very excited to have Cindy on our team,” says Billy Redd, President/CEO. “The COBB Boys & Girls Clubs of your Central Mississippi has served the youth of Central Mississippi for 73 years. Our club is a proven source of growth and development. Our mission is to enable these kids to become productive, caring, and responsible adults.
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The Club provides programs for more than 3,200 boys and girls in the areas of Character & Leadership, Education and Career, The Arts, Health and Life Skills, and Sports, Fitness, and Recreation. These kids spend over 750,000 hours a year inside our clubs. That is time that these kids are off the streets and not home alone,” Redd says. For more information on the clubs or to make a donation go to www.bgccm.net.
Thomas Townsend Celebrates 30 Years in Sales Jackson, MS - Jackson salesman, Thomas Townsend, just recently marked his 30th consecutive year of being in automobile sales as a Sales and Leasing Consultant. As a Master Certified Mercedes Benz salesman and a Porsche certified salesman, Townsend began his career in December 1979 with the former Blackwell Imports and worked 20 years for the Blackwell family until their sale in 2000. Working now for Higginbotham Autos, Townsend has won numerous sales TOWNSEND awards over the years and became a Master Guild Member (Mercedes) in 2007. With the new Porsche and Smart car facility opening in Janurary 2010, Townsend says he is looking forward to the new state of art Porsche building as well as the upcoming Autohouse renovation on the Mercedes Benz building. “It may sound corny, but I think I’ve lasted this long in sales because I treat people in the way that I want to be treated,” Townsend says. “It’s that simple but it’s a sound philosophy. I truly love what I do and have enjoyed all of my 30 years here.”
from our family to yours. Please have a safe and happy holiday season!
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company LI CA(1209)
Business News for Hinds, Madison & Rankin Counties