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Greater Jackson Business - 1


Up Front Fear of a Broke Planet Happy New Year to you all. Business everywhere today is in a strange limbo. What economic writer Robert Samuelson called the “recession’s legacy” in a recent Newsweek column is actually plain and simple fear: Haunting images of the stock ticker tumbling back in late ‘08 have burned into the brains of many businesspeople leaving what could prove to be an indelible mark. As part of my work as publisher of Greater Jackson Business I talk to a lot of businesspeople, from high level CEOs to Mom-and-Pop managers. When I ask, as I always do, “How’s business? How are you doing?” this reply is, invariably, an encapsulation of what I get: “Business is good, even up a little from over last year. But we’re being very careful and so are our customers. We’re having to cut in many areas to keep up projections and we hope that 2011 is better than last year – it has to be.” And sometimes I can see the fear in the eyes, especially of the small business owners. The positive news, as such, is that frivolous spending may be out as a result of this fearful attitude. The extravagant parties, lavish bonuses, company cars and gifts for clients (as in the case of one regional law firm I know that spent upwards of $300K in Christmas gifts for friends and associates alike) appear to be relics of better days. This is probably a good thing (although I’m sure that many in the entertainment and retail sectors would argues that point with me.) Still, we’re living in different times: while not completely austere, belts have certainly tightened and the champagne that flowed just a few years back has been replaced with light beer. But the “flight from risk” and “lasting scar on the American psyche” that Samuelson also writes about in the afore-

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BY JACK CRISS Publisher

mentioned column is another matter entirely. Being cautious and frugal is one thing; being afraid is quite another. I believe that Samuelson is dead on in wondering where prudence stops and paranoia starts. Income and profits remain level which most of us find acceptable – we’re just grateful that nothing has been lost. But is being content enough to drive us – and our economy – to higher levels? Business thrives on risk. Not foolhardiness or blind faith but in glimpsing an alley, perhaps dark, and entering it with the light of creativity. And risk in the market, naturally, depends on capital. The angel investors seemed to have come down to earth, however, and even those who are prospering are evidently keeping their profits close to the vest. This is the case in Metro Jackson and we all seem to be sitting on our hands waiting patiently for something/anything to happen: The next meltdown? The “all clear” signal? Winning the lottery? Mid-term elections? We don’t know exactly what we’re waiting for, we just wish it would hurry up and get here. It’s the economic equivalent of “Waiting For Godot” and it may drag on just as absurdly as that play did. No one should throw caution (or money) to the wind. But we have to keep taking chances, even small ones. The banks have given up on us; according to Samuelson, venture-capital funds have raised less than half of what they had pre-Recession; Rich Uncle Bob in Phoenix is probably no longer so rich. So that leaves those of us in business going back to the basics, rolling up our sleeves, working three or four times harder than ever before with an attitude, not of fear, but with calm hope: Ebullience probably won’t get you anywhere these days but patience and perseverance just might. To fear what we don’t know is an exercise in futility and wasted energy – and we really don’t know what’s going to happen next in this economy. The money may not be flowing like it was in 2006 but there’s still some out there. The challenge is to attract it in the best ways we know how and not let being afraid stifle our efforts. n


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Guest Commentary

BUSINESS

Business News for Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties

Volume 2 • Issue 1

Publisher/Editor Jack Criss

Art Direction/Layout Pevey Creative gmpevey@bellsouth.net

Columnists Jim Craig, Walt Dallas, Robert Dienelt, John Evans, Roger Parrott, David Russell, John Turner

Photography Tom Beck, Jack Criss, Jeff Sanders, Will Smith

Distribution Katie Criss

Host Jack Criss

Greater Jackson Business is published 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

Business News for Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties

P.O. Box 13665 • Jackson, MS 39236 Phone: 601-750-6587 email: jack@greaterjacksonbusiness.com www.greaterjacksonbusiness.com

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Craig’s Corner Jim Craig

Don’t Hate our Local Franchise Owners: They’re Our Neighbors Too! W

e hear it quite often: “shop local.” We read publications that urge readers “to shop at locally owned businesses and from Jackson artists and craftspeople as much as possible . . . if you resist the urge to crowd into chain stores, you will get more unique and memorable gifts, and you will support the local economy.” And we hear the opposite, too. “Boycott BP.” I have my favorite local stores – Lemuria, Cups, Treehouse, Bravo/Broad Street/Sal & Mookie’s, among others – and I admire the imagination and moxie of their owners. But I’m amazed that educated people don’t realize that “chain stores” in today’s America are, quite frequently, franchises. And for the benefit of such people, let’s let the Mississippi Legislature define the term: “Franchise” means a written arrangement for a definite or indefinite period, in which a person, for a consideration, grants to another person a license to use a trade name, trademark, service mark, or related characteristic, in which there is a community of interest in the marketing of goods or services at wholesale, retail, by lease, agreement or otherwise; except that, the term “franchise” shall not apply to persons engaged in sales from warehouses or like places of storage, leased departments of retail stores, or places of original manufacture.” (Miss. Code Ann. § 75-24-51(6)). A franchisor is typically a national corporation that markets the right to use its name, advertising, trademarks, and (sometimes) products to local entrepreneurs. Those local business owners – franchisees – pay a yearly fee, have to comply with franchise and distribution agreements (and other contracts), and surrender some control of their enterprise to the national company. But in their everyday travails of keeping income above expenses, investing in their community, and paying taxes, they are just as “local” as your favorite trendy spot. However, your friendly neighborhood franchise owner confronts issues that are alien to his or her non-franchise

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competitor. Franchise agreements can require the local owner to build in a particular location and in a particular form. For example: have you seen the repainting of the large house-shaped structure on the I-55 Southbound Frontage Road? Among other changes, the familiar blue roof – the clarion call for travelers to stop and have a familiar pancake breakfast while on the road – is being painted red. I’m going to assume – and it’s not a huge leap – that the pancake franchisee (1) was required to build the recognizable structure by its franchise agreement; and (2) was required to eliminate the recognizable color scheme and other trademarks when the franchise was moved further north. This illustrates the rewards and risks of franchise ownership. That blue roof is easy to spot, and customers who have had positive global pancake experiences in another location may well stop at the one on I-55, even without knowing the owner or the reputation of that local establishment. They know that the I-55 restaurant must meet certain standards, and must sell standard menu items cooked in a particular way with standard ingredients. Just seeing the blue roof makes me happy inside. (To be “fair and balanced,” I like La Casa de Waffle also). Those are the benefits of franchise ownership. But there are risks as well. Is a building constructed in the recognizable Pancake House style as marketable as one that is not so easily typecast? I would think not: and the capital invested in that building is the local franchisee’s, not the national franchisor’s.


Also, the franchisee must purchase the standard ingredients and food products, regardless of relative cost. Similarly, the retail gas franchisee may have to purchase a certain percentage of its petroleum products from the franchisor. Moreover, there may well be sales volume requirements that give franchisees stress not felt by their non-franchise compadres. And have you sometimes seen two stores of the same franchise within close proximity of each other? I have, and wondered how well those franchisees fared. So let’s consider a situation where a national franchisor – let’s call it “The International House of Grits” (IHOG) has, over the last five years, had a sharp decline in sales. Internal documents at IHOG headquarters show that management of the franchisor has decided they have allowed too many franchises and have glutted the market for “Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity Grits” and other mainstays of an IHOG. The company targets certain franchisees, and increases the food purchasing requirements of those franchises. The local IHOG is having to purchase far more grits than even a Jacksonian can eat. The local franchise feels that it is being pushed out of business. What can be done? Recognizing the inherent imbalance in bargaining power between local franchisees and their national franchisors, both Federal and State law protects our neighbors who own franchise outlets. The Federal protections are basic but important: the FTC Amended Franchise Rule, 16 CFR Part 436 (called the “Amended Rule”), requires a franchisor attempting to pitch a local business owner to become a franchisee must give that local entrepreneur a standard Disclosure Statement with certain required information. The Amended Rule also creates liability for franchisors who misrepresent certain material facts, either in or separately from the Disclosure Statement. Also, franchisors are liable if they require franchisees to waive the disclosure requirements of the Amended Rule. Mississippi statutory law also makes a franchisor liable if false information is given to a prospective franchisee. (Miss. Code Ann. § 75-24-55). Up to this point, franchise law is following “full and fair disclosure” principles which would garner the approval of disciples of Adam Smith. But the next layer of franchise law is more intrusive than those “free market” notions would allow: it gives the franchisee rights in addition to those agreed to between the franchisee and franchisor. This is because the law of many states, including Mississippi, recognizes the fundamental imbalance in the franchisor-franchisee relationship. As seen in our discussion of the restaurant example, a franchisee must invest his or her own capital into a business that is “locked in” to the franchise’s methods of doing business. If the franchise relationship is ever terminated, it is unlikely that the franchisee will recoup the full value of those investments. Moreover, by agreeing to join one franchise family, the local entrepreneur is taking a position against the rival franchise: the Burger King is at war

with the Dairy Queen, and with its other rivals. Thus, it is unlikely that the franchisee will push back against its franchisor’s demands. As a result, even in this sphere of “B2B” law, we see a socialdemocratic form of state protection of the little guy – the franchisee. For one thing, a franchisor may not unilaterally terminate the franchisee without 90 days notice, unless the franchisee has committed criminal misconduct or fraud, abandoned the business, filed bankruptcy, is insolvent, or has bounced a check to the franchisor. (Miss. Code Ann. § 7524-53). Specific industries have additional protections. Car dealerships cannot be terminated without notice and reimbursement of funds lost by the dealer. (Miss. Code Ann. § 63-17137). This includes repurchase of undamaged inventory. (Miss. Code Ann. § 63-17-141(1)). If the franchisor refuses to submit any dispute about the reimbursement to binding arbitration, that franchisor is automatically liable in court. (Miss. Code Ann. § 63-17-139). Beer distributors have similar protections. (Miss. Code Ann. § 67-7-1 et seq). Over and above these statutory protections, the common law provides extra help for our local franchisees, if they are especially dependent upon their franchisor. This was first recognized in Mississippi in the case of Carter Equip. Co. v. John Deere Indust. Equipment, Inc., 681 F.2d 386 (5th Cir. 1982). In that case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals applied the Mississippi law of fiduciary relationships to franchise agreements. Where the franchisor and franchisee conduct joint activity which “goes beyond their operating on their own behalf” so that the activity “is for the benefit of both,” the franchisor owes fiduciary duties to the franchisee. Thus, the franchisor may not: 1. Frustrate the mutual purpose of the parties; 2. Drive the franchisee out of business; 3. Make agreements with others that are antagonistic to the franchisee; 4. Affirmatively act in a way that causes loss to the franchisee; 5. Use its power to destroy, injure, or gain a preferential advantage over the franchisee; 6. Arbitrarily terminate the franchise agreement. As the Court explained in the later case of Phillips v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 792 F.2d 521, 524 (5th Cir. 1986): The law requires that neither party exert undue influence or pressure upon the other, take selfish advantage of his trust or deal with the subject matter of the trust in such a way as to benefit himself, or prejudice the other, except in the exercise of the utmost good faith and with the full knowledge and consent of the other person involved. But what does it mean to be “especially dependent?” The Court in Carter explained this: “If the franchisor has power to control the franchisee, there is an increased likelihood that a fiduciary relationship exGreater Jackson Business - 7


ists, since trust or confidence necessarily must flow from the controlled or dominated party. . . . If both parties stand on equal or nearly equal footing, there is less likelihood a fiduciary relationship exists, since equity will not be necessary to protect a party.” Given the Mississippi statutory definition of a franchise as involving a “community of interest,” and given the nature of most franchise relationships, I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that the majority of franchise relationships in Mississippi involve parties with unequal footing. We see, then, that our local IHOG owner might have an opportunity to stop the oppression of the national management of the franchisor. After all, in Miller Brewing Company v. Ed Roleson, Jr., Inc., 223 S.W.3d 806 (Ark. 2006), a franchisee won an award of $1.6 million against the franchisor for breach of good faith. The Court and jury found that the

franchisor had breached its duty to the franchisee by playing favorites in its efforts to consolidate franchises; and that this favoritism was an attempt to drive Roleson out of business. Interestingly, Roleson is still a franchisee today. And this brings up a final point: while franchisees have some measure of legal and equitable protection against oppression by their franchisors, they must have counsel with the right combination of diplomacy and litigation skills. After all, at the end of the day, the franchisee hopes to maintain its relationship with the franchisor. So lay off the “chain stores,” my fellow journalists. Don’t boycott the local BP franchisee. That doesn’t hurt the national company: instead, it hurts your neighbor. By all means, let’s support local business – but let’s define “local business” as any enterprise where the capital at risk is owned by our fellow residents of the Jackson Metro area. n

BUSINESS

Business News for Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties

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Second Opinion Jack Criss

Is Winning Really Everything?

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n 2005, I, along with several thousand other readers, bought retired GE CEO Jack Welch’s latest book, “Winning.” Naturally, I hoped to gleam tips from the great business guru and corporate legend on how to “win” in my own business of publishing. I never finished the book, to be honest. It just didn’t knock me out and I didn’t have the desire to complete it. I admit that I skipped ahead in the book, though, to a section Welch had written on balancing life and family. That subject had always fascinated me and, being married with two children at the time, wanted to see what The Great Mr. Welch had to say on the subject. I was enlightened…to say the least. Welch named those who, he wrote, “are not working for fun or the passion to win” as “work-life moaners.” Among those types he referenced an employee who wanted to take yoga classes on company time. I can agree that such a person might not be the model worker for any company, let alone General Electric. However, Welch went on to lump many working mothers in the category of “work life moaners” while, at the same time, praising some Mighty Moms who were executives and still got the job done (though how their children fared was not mentioned by Welch---he did write that nannies came in handy, though.) This gem from the section of the book really hit me, however: “So before you open your mouth a fifth time to ask for limited travel and Thursday mornings off, or occupy your boss’s time with concerns over your child-care arrangements, know that you are making a statement, and no matter what words you use, it sounds like, ‘I’m not really into this.’” Perhaps there’s a problem with translation here. Perhaps the worker is REALLY saying, “I have to have this job to support my family and I really love my children and need to spend more time with them. I also love my job but I’m coming to you as a fellow human being who will hopefully show some empathy and help me with my dilemma.” Or maybe I’m just being a “moaner.” Hardcore capitalist that I was in 2005, I was still uncomfortable with Welch’s take on the work/time-off dilemma. As a loving father myself, I was hell-bent and determined not to live in the office and not ever see my children. Thankfully, I owned my own business and could take time off as needed to be with them at special events or even to spend more time with them on my slow days. However, not every worker has that luxury and it certainly is one. In 2005---and especially now after the ‘08 Meltdown--most families had (and have) both parents working to simply pay the bills. And where were the children? Probably at daycare, or with nannies; more than likely not with grand-

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parents (many of whom had to work, too!) or extended family members. No, those days are gone. So many children are being raised in modern America without really knowing their parents and I think this is one of our culture’s greatest tragedies. But, as Welch went on to write in this same section, you certainly don’t want to wake up one day, after having decided to ditch your career and stay with the kids, and think with anguished regret, “What about ME? What about MY career?” What narcissism. And how pitiful. In my opinion, when you have children and you make that choice, well, you better be prepared to raise them and BE with them. If you can’t, then don’t have children and focus on your career. It’s that simple. Why procreate only to ship junior off to strangers so you can find and fulfill yourself? That, my friends, is selfishness pure and simple and, with apologies to Ayn Rand, it’s not a virtue in this case. Not with children’s lives at stake. Helping to raise my girls has been the single most rewarding experience of my life. I am now divorced and do not see them on a daily basis as I was accustomed to and I can tell you that work is no replacement for being with my girls. It shouldn’t be for anyone. I’m not casting stones here, either. There are loving parents who are working their tails off to make sure their children are, and will be, comfortable as they grow older. But at what cost to the children now? Will they grow up with material comforts only to find their own parents strangers? Are Mom and Dad too exhausted from work to play ball with them or read them a story? I can’t help but recall the poignant Harry Chapin song “Cats In The Cradle” when I think of such situations. Could I have worked harder? Oh, undoubtedly. Could I have made more money? Probably so. But at least my girls grew up knowing their Daddy loved them and was there for them---and still is. Who knows, though? I have a fear (probably unfounded) that, when they’re older, they’ll be upset I didn’t provide a bigger nest egg for them! But I somehow doubt that. Winning then, may not be everything it’s cracked up to be, at least not the kind Jack Welch advocates. Being and doing your best should be the ultimate goal. I try to teach the girls that, you don’t have to win or beat anybody to prove your worth; you do, however, have to try to do better yourself and improve on your own talents and skills. I tell them that a real winner is someone who can continually improve themselves. No, they may not win anything glamorous, like a big medal or a golden parachute such as in Welch‘s world. They can, however, win their own self respect. That’s the greatest prize of all and the most meaningful accomplishment. n


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BUSINESS

Business News for Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties

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Online Exclusive Content! Visit us online at greaterjacksonbusiness.com


What we know: We know that our clients are busy running their businesses for today but also looking ahead to their futures. We know that in any area of business, proactive planning produces better results, often using fewer resources, than reactive activity. We know that our clients want an advocate who understands their business and can help them define and achieve their plans for the future. We know that as our clients grow and experience success, our entire State benefits, resulting in a better home for all of us to live, work and raise our families. Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP has long been recognized in Jackson for its strength in the areas of commercial litigation, labor and employment, construction and appellate services. The Jackson office has recently added several lawyers with years of experience in the areas of business, tax and intellectual property. With this addition, we now have the resources and capabilities to assist with traditional corporate needs, but we also have the experience to handle the more complex needs that companies are facing in today’s business environment such as working to secure necessary resources and capital, protecting traditional and non-traditional assets like ideas and brand names through intellectual property identification and registration, and counseling companies on other challenges along the business life-cycle.

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Special to GJB

Lead As If You’ll Be There Forever Roger Parrott

I

magine that the job you are in right now is where you’ll be for the rest of your professional life. For many, it might be discouraging to truly feel “locked in” to your job. But contrary to the mantras of popular career gurus, this is one of the best things that could ever happen to you and your ministry, because only from that immobile position will your outlook on leadership be revolutionized. To live without professional advancement opportunities would, of course, be demotivating and create an unhealthy situation for both you and your organization. But to lead as if you must remain in that same position forever—and live with the long-term consequences of every decision—will shift your perspective, align your priorities, and build lasting strength in your work, rather than allowing you to settle for the comfort and accolades of immediate results. When a leader is thinking, living, and acting in terms of only the short-range, everyone around him suffers and may be handicapped for years to come because the decisions of today will narrow subsequent options and opportunities. The compounding weight of each shortsighted decision speeds the deterioration of the organization’s foundation, while a long-term perspective strengthens that substructure for a higher reach in the future. When short-term triumphs take precedent over long-term success, your leadership can deteriorate into selfish decisions, fearful management, and self-deceiving evaluation.

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The day a leader begins to look at his or her responsibility in terms of a limited future is the day leadership effectiveness begins to spiral downward. Eventually, a leader can become entrapped in a cycle that demands ignoring the mounting crisis of the future, in order to sustain the appearance of current success. To protect against this crippling pattern, a bit of periodic self-evaluation will reveal your current longitudinal view in leadership responsibilities: If you knew you could never have a different job, which decisions over the past year might you have made differently? Do you find yourself putting off a difficult personnel issue or a hard decision in hopes that someone else in the future will have to deal with it instead? Which of your recent decisions made you feel most proud – were they made in light of the long-term implications or the short-term impact? Have you purposefully made decisions recently that were best for the long run, even though another choice would have made you look good in the shortterm? When President Jimmy Carter held a thirteen-day summit at Camp David in 1978 with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, a formal state of war still existed between the two countries, with Egypt determined to reclaim the Sinai territory seized by the Israelis twenty-two years previously. In the woods of Maryland, these long-hoped-for negotiations came to multiple stalemates. But each time Carter found a way to keep the dis-

cussion alive, even though deep-seated mistrust between the two Middle Eastern leaders kept them from talking directly to each other, causing the U. S. President to shuttle between their private cabins,triangulating the dialog. On the morning of the eleventh day, the arduous process appeared to disintegrate when Prime Minister Begin decided to leave the meetings over the wording of a side letter on the status of Jerusalem. He wouldn’t have his mind changed by the immediate needs of securing the peace in the Middle East and freeing his country from the relentless cycle of violence. But with brilliant insight, President Carter shifted the perspective from the immediate results to the long-term implications: as Prime Minister Begin was packing his bags to leave, President Carter brought to him eight personalized autographed pictures of the three leaders working together, and told the Prime Minister they were for him to take home to his eight grandchildren so they would always remember what the three men had tried to accomplish together. Confronted with this vivid long-term perspective, Begin unpacked and days later signed the Camp David Accords. In an age of mobility and global connectedness, it is not likely to remainin only one place of service during your career. But no matter where you are, you need to think, work, live, and commit as if it is the only future that has entrusted to you. The day a leader begins to look at his or her responsibility in terms of a limited future is the day leadership effectiveness begins to spiral downward. And while leaders who base decisions on a long-term perspective may not be as flashy in their immediate results, they hire better people, build foundations of constituency strength, preserve organizational infrastructure, and leave a legacy that tells the full story of their success. n Roger Parrott is President of Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. He is the author of The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders (David C. Cook).

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Special to GJB

Looking Back on 20 Years: GJB Publisher reflects on Career, Industry summer of 1990 and it proved to be a very fortuitous event. GJB: How so? Criss: Well, Scott – who is now one of the preeminent publishers in the state and the South – went on to hire me full time as an editor for the renamed Jackson Business Journal in late 1991. We’ve had a relationship ever since, off and on, both here in Jackson and in the Delta where I worked for Scott for three and a half years. I assisted Scott with the Delta Business Journal, his ad agency, and helped get Delta Magazine off the ground, from early 2000 to early 2004. Scott gave me my start in professional, day-to-day publishing and I’ll always be grateful for that. GJB: What the Jackson economic climate like in the early 90’s?

Jack Criss says “It’s Been A Long – And Sometimes Strange – Trip” GJB: So talk about your start in Jackson print media. Criss: During my last few years as a talk show host at WJNT, I contributed several op-eds and wrote a few business stories for Wyatt Emmerich and The Northside Sun and for Kevin Jones, who was the publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. There was a guy by the name of Scott Coopwood, though, who listened to my show and he asked me to send in a column to his newspaper, Metro Jackson Business News. Barry Camp was his editor. That was in the

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Criss: It was good, it was strong. I had come from more of a political commentator background, pro-business for sure, but had never dealt with business people on a regular basis, so I had much to learn. Right off the bat, though, then as now, people were so nice to me. I had never sold an ad in my life but caught on quickly. And, as someone who loved to write and was pro-business, I bought into Scott’s philosophy of promoting and highlighting local businesses and leaders. GJB: Are there still people you met early on who work with you today? Criss: Absolutely. Billy Roberts at AmFed stands out first and foremost, Doyle Warrington over at Ridgeland Tourism, Larry Lewis at People Lease…many more. Just great, great individuals and always a pleasure to work with and be around. GJB: How about any “infamous” business leaders? Or any who weren’t so pleasant to be around? Criss: Well, I don’t know about his guilt in the much-documented scandal and downfall, but Bernie Ebbers was always extremely rude. Just about every time I was around him, or had to interview him, he was short, ill-tempered and gruff.


Bud Robinson was, and is, a complete gentleman, but got very upset with me when I published what I thought was a fairly innocuous Q&A with him after Deposit Guaranty was sold in early 1998. I’ve seen him since and I think everything is okay between us – I certainly hope so! GJB: How many other publications were out there when you started your career in the Metro? Criss: Not very many, actually. Wyatt had The Sun and was always a good friend and supporter. Kevin and Rosa Lee Jones, however, took an aversion to me after I started working for Scott so there was always competition between us and the Mississippi Business Journal. When Joe Jones bought the paper from Kevin and Rosa Lee the competition was still there but more friendly: Joe and I would often take little digs at each other but I liked him very much. It’s a shame now that that paper is owned out of Minnesota and is no longer local. GJB: There are magazines and papers everywhere now, though. What’s this talk about print’s demise?! Criss: Good question. I think local, niche publications will always have a place, especially in the Metro market. That’s not the trend nationally, of course, but it is here – at least for now. Plus, we have some really good magazines and papers out on the market today. Portico Jackson is a great magazine, Jackson Free Press has brought a vibrant diversity and tenacity to the city, my good friend and designer Greg Pevey has Mississippi Sports Magazine and Rankin Living, there’s Stages magazine… many fine publications out there. It’s competitive in that we have to fight for the same ad dollar but we are all different enough and get along with each other so it’s not so bad. GJB: Favorite interview you’ve ever conducted for print? Criss: (Pauses) That’s very hard. I can tell you that I had to edit a number of comments from some prominent Metro leaders that could have proven inflammatory had I chosen to publish them! GJB: Such as? Criss: (Laughs) I’m not going to say! As far as my “favorite” interview, I don’t know. I used to really enjoy talking with Kane Ditto when he was mayor of Jackson. He always had an open door policy and was super nice to work with. Billy Roberts, again, was and remains a great leader to talk to and a top-notch gentleman and friend. I’m biased because he’s also a friend but Stacey Wall always gives a good interview. John Evans at Lemuria Bookstore – what a great friend and gentleman. LeRoy Walker, after I interviewed him at his office on Highway 80, actually served me a meal from the drive-

through window at one of his McDonald’s in 1997 – that was a kick! David Watkins is not only a visionary but a kind soul. The list goes on and on… GJB: Scott Coopwood gave you your start; have you, in turn, helped anyone in the publishing business? Criss: Yes, Scott got me into business publishing and Ed Inman, a well known Jacksonian, actually gave me my first paid writing job when I was 15 with his newspaper, The Nexus. My rock column was right next to Bill Minor’s political column and I felt like Hunter S. Thompson! Gretchen Cook, who publishes Parents & Kids Magazine, actually got her start as my editor with the Metro Business Review; Bridget White, who is now in Chicago and has picked up a few Folio awards got her start with me; I think the talented Jackson photographer, Tom Beck, did his first business photography for me. So, yes, a few. And more to come, I hope. Jackson has a plethora of young talent out there right now. Seriously, more than I’ve ever seen, and I want to tap into it! GJB: How has publishing changed since the early 90’s here in the Metro? Criss: It’s changed dramatically with the internet, computers, social media…you name it. The recession hit us all extremely hard and radically changed the way I do business for example. I’ve written on this before but you sure can’t take any sale or customer for granted. Not that we, or I, did but you sure have to pay extra attention now and be grateful for the advertising you get. You have to give more for the dollar and that’s probably a good thing. Personally, I am much more humble and thankful than I was, say, when I was 28 or so and selling ads was like shooting fish in a barrel. As an example: our biggest focus stories used to be on ad agencies, stockbrokers and commercial property managers. That’s almost all gone now, dried up as sources of revenue for magazine advertising. In the 90’s, ad agencies used to really fight each other to get the best looking and biggest ad placed in our focus story every year! When was the last time you saw an ad agency run an ad, I ask you now? Same with the guys in stocks and securities: prior to the new regulations they could place ads with no regards to cost or content. Today they can’t even submit a column in their own words without corporate supervision and editing – if they’re allowed to write at all. And property managers? They have really taken it on the chin. Good people having to dig deeper today – like we all are, I suppose. On the positive side, at least 3M spray mount is obsolete as is cutting and pasting! I used to have to drive the actual newspaper – laid out in a beat up, old yellow box – to the Greyhound bus station to ship to the print shop. Now you click a button and, joila, it‘s gone. Greater Jackson Business - 17


GJB: Have you had to reinvent yourself? Criss: Without question. More online and Facebook presence and material, of course, and I do my radio and TV shows on WLEZ and Local 98, respectively. It’s a new day and you have to work three times as hard for almost twice as less.

The past 20 years have been a long – and somewhat strange – trip. But as I tell people, my best friends today are individuals I first met when I walked into their offices and announced, “Hello Mr. or Ms. So-and-so; I’m Jack Criss and I want to talk to you about advertising.” To me, that sums up what my career in publishing has been about: making and helping friends.

GJB: Then why do it? GJB: Are you optimistic for the future of the Metro? Criss: (Laughs) Because no one else would hire me! Honestly, I do love this work and I love helping promote and showcasing businesses that otherwise would never receive the attention. My greatest joy is walking into an office and seeing stories I wrote framed on the wall or getting phone calls asking for twenty extra copies – THAT’S job satisfaction like no other. GJB: What’s ahead for you and GJB? Criss: Keep on keeping on, I suppose. We took a brief hiatus from print to sort some things out with the direction we wanted to take but I still want to keep the print edition going strong – and expanding: mailing out copies, printing more, adding distribution points. Plus we have some events taking place this year that, I believe – all hyperbole aside – will excite the Metro business community.

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Criss: Yes, I am. Cautiously, of course. Nationally there are a lot of ominous trends and I don’t believe the world is as good a place as it was, say, 30 years ago. Yes, we’ve made strides but our culture is a complete sewer and the political climate has become so vicious today. Still, we must move on and make the best of our lives and our children’s lives by creating and maintaining alternatives and I think the Metro is a good place to do that. The people here are absolutely wonderful and there are so many good signs around us, like Downtown Jackson’s comeback and the phenomenal resurgence of Fondren. We are progressing here in ways I didn’t think might have been possible if you had asked me in 1999. It will be fun for me to continue covering that progress for as long as I can! n


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Greater Jackson Business - 19


Cover Story By Jack Criss (and GJB Reports)

E

Erika with Rob Burnham, BDS Institute

Erika Montgomery: The Can-Do Marketing Guru Young entrepreneur makes mark with Akire Co.

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rika Montgomery calls herself a marketing “guru.“ After a very auspicious start for a such a young entrepreneur she is entitled to make that claim. The daughter of Mississippi Gulf Coast natives that instilled in her the drive to be ambitious, independent and a person of high-integrity, Montgomery started her first venture at the age of six. “I’ve always been a goal-driven person who desired to have all that life would allow me,” she says. “It’s not all about material things but, if you want certain rewards from life, you have to work hard for them.” As a result of her academic goals, Montgomery graduated in the top 10 percentile from Terry High School and was awarded two scholarships. She continued on to Jackson State University where she received her B.S. in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics. Fulfilling the first of her professional goals, Montgomery served as an IT manager for Jackson State University where she assisted with the support and management of the various computer laboratories on the four college campuses. By accomplishing what she had set out to do, Montgomery says she was able to purchase her dream car and home before her mid-20’s. In that same time, she had also established a technology business and marketing consulting firm that focused on providing services to small minority owned businesses which she operated for over five years. Now with over 10 years of experience in the fields of information technology, marketing and business development, Montgomery’s resume also lists employment with such companies as Caterpillar Inc., NASA Stennis Space Center and Geek. She has also been offered opportunities to work with companies such as Wells Fargo and Lockheed Martin but declined these to focus on her own business goals.


Seeking to be a better consultant and person, Montgomery has been a student of Donald Trump, Don Saxton and Robert Kiyosaki through their respective mentorship programs. She has also received certification and specialized training in the NxLevel entrepreneurship curriculum, InfusionSoft internet marketing consulting and the Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” program. Among her other accomplishments, Montgomery has received the Youth of the Year and the Sir. John Lipton Sportsmanship awards from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Although she has spoken to audiences for years about her accomplishments, Montgomery recently achieved a life milestone of acquiring the Toastmaster International’s Competent Communicators award. Montgomery’s community services

include her role as the Special Projects Coordinator for the Business and Professional Women Federation, Committee Member for the Dorothy Johnson Scholarship Foundation and Mississippi State Coordinator for NxLevel Foundation. Other organizations she has affiliations with include National Association of Professional Women, Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, Mississippi Minority Business Alliance and National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Now at the ripe age of 28, Montgomery is the CEO of The AKIRE Company (which is Erika backwards), an international consulting firm; founder of iEmpowerMe, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on improving the life skills and well-being of women and youth; and tours the country hosting various workshops in her role as a business consultant, success coach and motivational

speaker while pursuing her MBA at Jackson State University. “My life mission is simple,” Montgomery says. “I want to touch the lives of everyone I meet by inspiring them to be the best they can be and settle for nothing less. I want to live this mission daily and make an impact wherever I go.” Spend a few moments with this marketing “guru” and it will become apparent that she is, indeed, making an impact: through her business helping others achieve their goals and promoting their activities as well as through her cando personality and cheerful disposition. n (To see a video of GJB Publisher Jack Criss interviewing Erika Montomery on the Greater Jackson Business Beat Local 98 TV show, please go to www.greaterjacksonbusiness.com and click on “TV Show.”

Sidebar: A Q&A With Erika Montgomery of AKIRE, CO. GJB: Why did you start this business? EM: I have always enjoyed researching topics and methodologies for helping small businesses grow via marketing, expansion and technology. The more I learned, the more I wanted to share. I realized that the purpose of my learning was not to selfishly keep all of that information to myself, but to also share it with others to help them be successful. GJB: How long have you been in business? EM: AKIRE CO. has been in existence for about one year. Although the formal company structure is in its infancy phase, I have been involved in this industry for at least 10 years. Prior to the development of AKIRE CO., I owned a growing business called Marketing Einsteins LLC. I decided to start over and rebrand kind of like the AT&T and BellSouth deal. I knew that we had more to offer than marketing and wanted to insure that the brand would allow us more flexibility as we began to

market ourselves. GJB: Why are you so passionate about what you do with AKIRE? EM: I have an undying flame within me to see people succeed. Whenever I see someone who is really sincere about accomplishing their goals, I want to provide them all the tools and resources that I can to help them. Since I also love researching business strategies, I combine my passion to help people achieve their goals with the strategies I continue to research and sharpen. The end result is my passion to help business owners be successful in their endeavors. GJB: What services does AKIRE CO. provide? EM: The services that we provide can be categorized as marketing consulting, business development consulting, information technology consulting, empowerment (training) programs and success coaching. GJB: In your experience, why do companies hire AKIRE CO.?

EM: Clients usually come to us for the top three reasons: We are a company of high integrity – the focus of our company is to help our clients. We would refer our clients to another company if that is really what the client needs versus the services they are requesting from us. We realize that business is not about being selfish or nickel and diming people. Successful business comes when you treat people like you want to be treated and are sincere about the success of their venture. Second, our team consists of individuals who are professional, proficient and very knowledgeable. All of the members of our team are lifelong learners who are constantly researching how they can sharpen their skills to the benefit of our clients. And, third, we give our projects 150% and provide our clients a satisfaction guarantee. One of our goals when serving a client is to provide beyond our best and exceed client’s expectations. We want our clients satisfied with the services we have provided and anything less is unacceptable. We are passionate about helping our clients be successful. n Greater Jackson Business - 21


Community Works Derek Alley

STEWPOT: The Stew that Grew

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hings are cooking at Stewpot – and, in more ways than one! While that might simply mean meals provided for needy persons, much more is hap-

human needs and demonstrates that people of different beliefs really can work together – and make a significant difference, too.

pening. The numbers, alone, are impressive. In 2010 as many as 150,000 children, women and men were fed, tutored, clothed, counseled, attended, sheltered, encouraged, and helped to meet life’s challenges and opportunities by Stewpot. Located in central Jackson at 1100 West Capitol Street since 1981, Stewpot symbolizes Jackson both at its worst and at its best. Head-on, it deals with the nightmares of violence, abuse, addiction, urban decay, mental illness, homelessness, unemployment, and crime. It stands as an island of hope in the midst of an ocean of need. For many Jacksonians it represents the possibility of faith meeting

FAITH IN ACTION More than 200 congregations, as well as hundreds of institutions and businesses support Stewpot in one way or another. Some 11,000 Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and others without a particular religious affiliation - who “simply care” - volunteer and support Stewpot’s many programs. Jackson’s business community is also vital to Stewpot. Every spring, Taste of Mississippi, brings together more than 40 chefs and restaurateurs, along with music and a live and silent auction. Each fall, Trustmark’s Red Beans and Rice Celebration attracts hundreds of families for food, festivities and music. Additionally, at the Business and Professional Lead-

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improved, providing housing for 20 families. BIG PLANS FOR THE FUTURE Now 30 years old, with a staff of 18 and an annual budget of $1.64 million, Stewpot has dreams and plans for an even more effective future which require revamping and upgrading its well-worn “Central Urban Ministry Center” housed in facilities donated to Stewpot in 2004 by the Presbytery of Mississippi (PCUSA). The word “Central” in its name is not only descriptive of Stewpot’s mission, but also honors the building’s history as the former Central Presbyterian Church. Stewpot is now embarking on its first-ever capital campaign to transform these facilities into an area that will more effectively fulfill its mission. The once magnificent sanctuary, silent and idle for many years, will be re-developed into a community dining area. The chapel and food pantry will be relocated and moved next to the sanctuary, vastly improving the possibility of access for many aid recipients. An inviting courtyard will be created between the two buildings that make up the Central Urban Ministry Center. The adjacent portion of the building, which currently houses most of Stewpot’s programs, will be transformed to accommodate after-school, summer, and day care programs for children.

ers’ Luncheon, community leaders receive an annual report on Stewpot’s service to the community. The proceeds from each of these events significantly benefit all that Stewpot is and does. While Stewpot began with several congregations simply banding together to serve meals out of an abandoned service station in a once proud, but decaying, part of the city, it soon expanded across the street to the facilities that had housed Central Presbyterian Church. HELP FOR PEOPLE IN NEED Its programs now reach into multiple facets of human need; providing food and shelter for men, women and children, counseling, a community health clinic in partnership with St. Dominic Health Services, educational and social activities for senior adults, and free legal counsel with lawyers from the Mississippi Lawyers Project. While there is food for body, there is also food for the soul offered by an inter-faith worship service, led by ministers of various denominations, six days a week. In partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Stewpot has engaged in the Bratton Street project where over the past ten years, once dilapidated, trashed, or vacant homes have been

HIGH CALIBRE LEADERSHIP Sheriff Malcolm MacMillan served as chair of the Faith Meeting Needs 2010 Campaign. He was assisted by a highly effective group of community leaders. They include Beth Orlansky, Campaign Vice-Chair, Alex Alston, Jr., Jane Anna Barksdale, Ann Calhoon, Rabbi Valerie Cohen, Bill Cook, Martha Cooke, Bishop Ronnie Crudup, Jason Dean, Jack Garner, Macy Hart, Nic Lott, Steve Ludlam, Mike McRee, Hal Miller, Jere Nash, The Very Rev. Edward O’Connor, Charles Parrott, Steven Pickett, The Rev. Christopher Powell, Ton Rietvelt, The Rev. Joey Shelton, The Rev. Linda Smith, The Rev. John Hugh Tate, The Rev. Matt Taylor, Harry Walker, and former Governor William Winter. The Rev. Frank Spencer serves as Stewpot’s Executive Director, with Sheldon Alston serving as chairman of Stewpot’s Board of Trustees. The possibility of raising the necessary $4 million offers Stewpot a significant challenge – especially as a first-time venture. But the faith that birthed this mission seems still alive and the generous spirit of Jackson is on the move once again in its behalf. Initial gifts, many from the business community, are already at the halfway point of $2million. A COMMITTEE OF ONE HUNDRED As this effort now moves more widely into the community for gifts and support, a committee of one hundred is now being assembled. According to Frank Spencer, the focus of the Committee of One Hundred will be to provide an opportunity to give to all who support Stewpot. n Greater Jackson Business - 23


The Economy David Russell

You Might Need A Trust If...

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omedian Jeff Foxworthy became famous with the following phrase: “You might be a redneck if…” Well, we’re in Mississippi, so I’ve found some pretty good, “You might be a Yankee if…Here are some examples: 1. You don’t know kudzu from kung fu. 2. You think smog is a sky color 3. You think barbecue is a verb, not a noun 4. You think okra is a talk show host 5. You don’t see anything wrong with putting a sweater on a poodle

Well, I’m certainly no comedian, and I doubt what I have to talk about will ever be made into a calendar, but seeing that I am in the trust business, I thought I’d title my discussion, “You might need a trust if…” Before I get too far though, I need to issue the standard disclaimer that a) I am not an attorney and nothing that I say herein can be used against me – I mean – nothing that I say herein should be considered legal advice, and b) any planning device or strategy mentioned should only be considered under the advice of your attorney. First off, what is a trust? The simplest definition I can give is that it is a way for a property owner to control his property beyond his own death or incapacity. More technically, it’s an agreement involving three parties – a creator, a trustee, and a beneficiary – where property is given by the creator to a trustee to manage on behalf of one or more beneficiaries. The agreement will have its own set of instructions for the trustee that direct the trustee how to manage the property and when to give property - or the income derived from it – to the beneficiary. By law the trust must have a termination date – a future time when the property of the trust is distributed to the remaining beneficiaries. Until then, which can be one hundred years or more, the property is held under the control of the trustee

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who manages it according to the original creator’s wishes. A few other basics: a trust can be created during the creator’s lifetime, in which case it’s called a “living” trust, or it can be created through the will of the creator, in which case it’s called a “testamentary” trust. In addition, a trust may be “revocable” meaning that the creator may change or revoke the trust during his lifetime; or the trust may be “irrevocable” which means that no one has the power to alter the terms of the trust. A revocable trust will usually become irrevocable at the death of its creator. The significance of revocable or irrevocable has mainly to do with income, gift, or estate tax treatment, which I will touch on later. So, do you need a trust? 1. You might need a trust if…You’re concerned about the expense and delay of probate. Probate is the legal proceeding involved in settling a deceased person’s affairs. It can be expensive, and it can be time consuming, depending on the complexity of the estate. In this case a Revocable Living Trust that holds title to the creator’s assets may be an appropriate alternative to a traditional will. Under this arrangement, the creator is also the trustee and beneficiary of the trust during his life; therefore no control is lost over the trust assets. At death, no title changes are required since the trust already owns the assets, so no probate proceeding is necessary. A successor trustee, normally a trust company or family member, carries on the trust and disburses the assets according to the trust’s instructions. 2. You might need a trust if…You are married and have more than $1.0 Million in total assets. Actually this reason is moot for 2010. The enactment of the Tax Act of 2001 introduced a considerable amount of uncertainty into the estate planning process. Under this law, the federal estate tax was repealed for the year 2010, unless the Congress in session at that time takes the initiative to finalize the repeal (obviously, this ain’t happenin.) We won’t know until later what the estate tax laws will look like, or how much a married couple can leave to their heirs estate tax free. Under current law, the exemption reverts to $1 Million per person. If that happens, the case for trusts to protect wealth in excess of $1 Million will be even more pronounced. Married individuals may leave an unlimited amount to one another, but doing so might waste the first spouse’s exemption. That’s because when the surviving spouse dies, the combined estate only has one remaining exemption. To preserve the exemption of the first spouse to die, many couples use a credit shelter or by-pass trust. At the first spouse’s death, an amount not exceeding the exemption is placed into the credit shelter trust. It is neither taxed at that time nor at the later death of the surviving spouse, even though it


may appreciate greatly in value. 3. You might need a trust if…You are concerned about the financial maturity of your heirs. A trust is an instrument that gives its creator the ability to control property “from the grave.” Now if this sounds too controlling to you, consider that according to several studies, the average inheritance is consumed within six months of receipt. Furthermore, 25% of those receiving inheritances of $150,000 or more totally drop out of the workforce (apparently only for about six months). Many parents are concerned about the impact that sudden wealth may have on their children’s lives. Over the years, many people have established “incentive trusts” that reward their children for lifestyles or behavior that the creator values. Examples of these kinds of incentives include: a. “A dollar for dollar match against income earned in gainful employment” b. “financial support as long as a B average is maintained in pursuing a four-year college degree.” Careful here. One such provision provided support to the child of the deceased to spend the following 30 years of his life pursuing several “four-year” degrees. c. “no financial support shall be provided if the beneficiary has a drug or alcohol related dependency.” d. “a $100,000 bonus shall be distributed if my child does not marry an attorney.” (although this was attempted, it was considered un-enforceable.) 4. You might need a trust if…you have children from a first marriage. Children from a first marriage may inadvertently be left out of their deceased parent’s estate if the parent has remarried and owns all of his or her assets in joint tenancy with the second spouse, or has only a simple will. In either case, the entire estate may pass to the surviving second spouse who is under no obligation to leave any part of the estate to the children of the first marriage. However, the surviving spouse may need the income from the assets. To address this situation, a Qualified Terminal Interest Property or QTIP trust may be established. The QTIP trust allows the creator to designate income to a surviving spouse for life, while retaining the right to name the persons who will ultimately receive the trust assets at the surviving spouse’s death. The QTIP also reduces the possibility of the estate passing to a subsequent marriage partner or “close friend” of the surviving spouse. 5. You might need a trust if…You own a lot of life insurance. You’ve probably heard that life insurance proceeds are paid tax-free to the beneficiary of the policy. That’s true – for income tax purposes, but NOT for estate tax purposes. The proceeds payable on a life insurance policy are included in the owner’s estate. If you die in 2011 (and assuming the exemption reverts to $1Million per

person), and all you own is a $2 Million life insurance policy, the first $1Million falls under the 2011 exemption; the remaining $1Million will be subject to a tax of $435,000! The beneficiary would receive a net of $1,565,000. Of course most people who own a lot of life insurance own other assets as well, so the life insurance simply adds on top of the other assets, pushing the estate into a higher estate tax bracket. A life insurance trust avoids this problem by owning the policy inside an irrevocable trust. The policy beneficiaries usually become the trust beneficiaries. Premium payments are made by way of “gifts” to the trust. These gifts are subject to a limited withdrawal right by the trust beneficiaries, which if waived (and they usually are if Dad adds a little arm twisting pressure under the table), are used by the trustee to pay the insurance premium. Because the insured has no ownership in the policy, the proceeds are kept out of his estate. 6. You might need a trust if…You feel it is blessed to give AND receive. Perhaps you would like to make a significant gift to a favorite charity, but you need current income. Or maybe you have an asset whose income could be given to charity, but you’d like to keep the asset for your children or grandchildren. There are special trusts available for just this purpose. A charitable remainder trust is one such arrangement where you give an asset or cash to a trust, retain an income from the trust for your life – or a period of years – and at the end of the trust, what’s left goes to your named charity. An income tax deduction is allowed at the time you set up the trust, and the value of the asset in the trust is forever removed from your estate. In addition, because it’s a tax exempt trust, if it is funded with an appreciated asset, such as land or timber, the trust pays no capital gains tax when it sells the asset. 7. Finally, you might need a trust if…You want to protect your assets from future judgment lawsuits. Now you have to be careful here. Timing is a crucial issue; you don’t want to set up a trust after you’ve been served notice that you’re being sued. And, you must use an irrevocable trust; otherwise the assets in the trust will be considered yours. Your access to the assets in the trust should be severely restricted. This is a highly specialized area of trust law, and should only be considered after consulting a qualified attorney. These are only seven instances where a trust may provide control, tax, or protection benefits. There are a myriad of other situations where a trust may be warranted as well. Only a thorough analysis of your financial and personal goals can determine if a trust is a tool that can benefit you and your family. I hope that the little bit I’ve shared with you today will encourage you to take the first step. n David Russell is Sr. Vice President and Trust Officer of Pinnacle Trust Company in Madison, Mississippi.

Greater Jackson Business - 25


Planning Walt Dallas

How To Create An Economic Dynamo Engine

I

was traveling back from my annual golf trip and my banker friend from the back of the vehicle had a number of tax policy solutions to cure our economic woes. It seems that the best policy discussions in our group happen while coming back from a long golf weekend. More Write-Offs My banker friend asked what about allowing businesses to write off more of capital purchases? “Well, I replied, we have been doing that over the last many years so the effect would not be too great.” Capital purchases can already be written off to a great extent. (we could work on shortening the depreciation life of real estate) Also, with fast write offs, you are accelerating purchases into a year which may not have been made just on economics. So you are distorting the market with tax policy. Do you remember the drop off in auto sales after the cash for clunkers? How about the drop-in real estate sales after the first time home credits expired? Do you remember the Katrina 50% depreciation deduction? This created a bubble in Mississippi and now the builders are out of work. Accelerated write-offs accelerate purchases and create a bubble which leaves less to buy in later years, creating a boom and then a bust. Payroll Tax Holiday My banker friend explained that a tax on the employment of an employee makes the employment of that employee more difficult. Pretty simple, in that the employee costs the employer more so the employer doesn’t hire. And the higher the payroll rates, the less employers want to hire. We have seen the payroll tax go from next to nothing up to a full 15.3% of payroll. Just think if the employers did not have to incur the payroll tax how much more employment would exist. So, my banker friend asked what about a payroll tax holiday?

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The driver (before I could answer) then quipped he is not going to hire an employee for a payroll holiday year and then have to pick up payroll taxes thereafter. If the employee would not be profitable without payroll taxes, he doesn’t want an unproductive employee for the long-term, when payroll taxes will be due. The payroll tax holiday would not be an incentive to hire an employee and would not influence the driver’s decision at all. The fourth golfer then perked up and referenced one-time stimulus money as being similar. He made the point that onetime stimulus money was a waste of money since it can only be used for one-time expenses and not for reoccurring expenses such as teachers. I was in full agreement as employers are looking for long term fixed costs. So we agreed that a payroll tax holiday while it may generate a little bit of activity is not much of a solution. Immoral Taxes Having made little progress with quick solutions, my banker then asked whether the estate tax is immoral. I responded that a corollary question is: are taxes moral in general? Perhaps the morality comes from the 10 Commandments: “Thou shalt not steal”. I define a tax as taking from one person and distributing the value to others. If the person paying the tax receives a benefit, all though indirect, that would seem to be within my morals. If the person paying the tax receives no benefit, perhaps the thou shalt not steal rule is violated. Just because a tax is legal, does that make it moral? My banker friend then commented that taxes are complicated. To justify the estate tax, a person with wealth has more to protect. This would mean a greater interest in government which defends the borders and rights. Also a person with wealth has an interest in a stable society. What happens when a society has 99% of the wealth in the hands of one percent of the population? This would seem to be a factor which would destabilize society. Laws exist to prevent aggregation of wealth in the hands of churches. The estate tax breaks up large concentrations of wealth in the hands of private individuals. We are seeing that wealth is aggregating in less and less people, even with the estate tax. If there were no estate tax, the concentration would seem to accelerate. If the world’s wealth is held by the top 1% of its people, the other 99% may be more inclined toward revolu-


tion, and at the least higher taxes. If More Tax then Less Income A tax on the income creates a disincentive to produce that income. The higher the tax, the bigger the disincentive. We saw in the Jimmy Carter years the rates exceeded 50% going way up to 70% in some cases. This provided an incentive for people not to work. The same principle is true regarding capital. Why should an investor risk capital if a large chunk of the gains will go in taxes? This would substantially hamper the creation of new businesses. My banker friend commented on the plethora of new publicly traded companies to bolster the premise that the United States in spite of taxes has prospered. Remember Dell, HP, Google are new. So I asked how many of these companies would have been created if there had been a 50% tax on income and capital gains? The four of us in the vehicle driving back from the golf trip concluded that the economic creation would’ve been much less. Economic Principles So what is the answer? Let’s consider the following principles. Income taxes decrease productivity. Capital gain taxes decrease the creation of new businesses. Payroll taxes decrease the attractiveness of hiring an employee.

Accelerated write offs create an accelerated purchase of a product followed by a decrease in the purchase of the product creating an economic bubble. Estate taxes break up large concentrations of wealth. So the solution is simple. Let people keep most of what they earn from work and investment and not have to pay a penalty payroll tax for the hiring of employees, let capital purchasers be governed by sound economic decisions and pay your taxes in the form of estate taxes after you’re gone. Solutions • Lower income and capital gain tax rates, • Lower payroll taxes, • Stop accelerated write-offs • Increase estate taxes So now everyone has an incentive to go out and make as much money as possible, invest more, make purchases based on economics, and pay taxes at death. n Walt Dallas, J.D., LL M. (taxation) is a tax attorney with his offices in Flowood, Mississippi, and can be reached at wdallas@ corporate planning 123.com or by phone at 601-209-8327. Dallas will be writing a series of columns on additional income tax planning for future issues.

providing an insider’s view of your workplace issues Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. is one of the largest labor and employment law firms in the nation, with 500 attorneys strategically located in 39 offices across the country. With a reputation for excellent client service, Ogletree Deakins advises and represents over half the Fortune 50 companies in labor and employment matters.

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Greater Jackson Business - 27


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How close is too close to that power line? Don’t go anywhere near power lines. Those lines will send all that electricity directly into anything – or anyone. You’d be dead in an instant. So keep your distance, and keep your life. Get the facts about power line safety at entergymississippi.com. Charles Hall, Production Superintendent

A message from Entergy Mississippi, Inc. ©2010 Entergy Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Greater Jackson Business - 29


Business Health Murray L. Harber

Wellness Resources for Small Business

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here are many good opportunities and resources for the small business owner in Mississippi as it relates to employee wellness. Small business can learn many tactics for offering a healthy workplace from any size company and there are some really good programs here in Mississippi. There are also some resources available for the small business owner coming from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the form of grants for worksite wellness. The Mississippi Worksite Wellness Group is an alliance of Mississippi companies who are interested in learning more and sharing what they know on the topic of “Worksite Wellness”. It is managed by a twelve person executive committee which provides an engaging web site and offers learning opportunities throughout the year. They partner with the Mississippi State Department of Health in holding an annual conference in May.   “It is great to have an avenue to discuss worksite wellness topics with other organizations that are also committed to helping their employees live healthy lifestyles. This group has helped many organizations and companies across Mississippi buy reducing the learning curve of doing it on their own. The group has taught me new ways to look at employee health and has given me ideas to use at our company”, states Matt Ginn, Wellness Coordinator at Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has built in prevention and wellness for many different stakeholder groups. As part of this act, it includes a grant program for small business. Small business has always had a hard time understanding wellness programs and how to offer them to a small amount of employees while staying focused on

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being successful in generating profit. Small business will have an opportunity to apply for grants to help them provide comprehensive workplace wellness programs. The grants will be awarded in 2011 by the US Government to employers who do not currently have wellness programs in place as of March 23rd, 2010. To be eligible, an employer must have fewer than 100 employees who work 25 hours or more per week. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is tasked with developing the grant program criteria based on evidencebased research and best practices. The bill also states that the HHS will develop criteria for a comprehensive workplace wellness program to include: • Health awareness initiatives (including health education, preventive screenings, and health risk assessments) • Efforts to maximize employee engagement (including mechanisms to encourage employee participation) • Initiatives to change unhealthy behaviors and lifestyle choices (including counseling, seminars, online programs, and self-help materials) • Supportive environment efforts (including workplace policies to encourage healthy lifestyles, healthy eating, increased physical activity, and improved mental health) Employers will be able to submit applications that include a proposal for a program that meets the criteria and requirements as described in the PPACA and developed by the Secretary. Worksite wellness is growing across the country and knowing what to do that will make a difference can save you time and money. Make an effort to learn from other companies and take advantage of the resources that your local, state, and federal government has to offer. Everyone can promote health and wellness, even the small business. n Murray Harber is a Health Performance Consutant based in Ridgeland, MS.


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Greater Jackson Business - 31


Finance Robert Dienelt

How Safe Is Your Retirement Plan?

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s you plan for retirement, you may count on an employer sponsored “qualified” retirement plan such as a pension plan, profit sharing plan, or 401(k). Or perhaps you are counting on your traditional IRA or your Roth IRA. Someone else may be counting on those assets, too. Creditors, perhaps? It would be nice to know if creditors could get to your retirement savings. Up to now, your qualified plan accounts find their creditor protection in federal law and are generally fully protected – no matter how large. Your IRAs, however, find their protection in state law and, unfortunately, many states do not fully protect IRAs. In fact, the level of IRA protection varies widely by state and so has been a point of confusion for many investors. For those with little or no state IRA protection, federal bankruptcy law offers up to $1 million in IRA creditor protection. This $1 million protection limit for IRAs applies to all of your traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. Assume your state law offers little or no protection to IRA assets and you own two traditional IRAs and one Roth IRA. If each IRA is worth $200,000, you would have a total of $600,000 in IRA assets. The new federal bankruptcy law protects up to $1 million. So, your IRA assets should be fully protected from creditors. But, let’s assume that when you retire, you roll $500,000 from your 401(k) into one of your IRAs which will increase your total IRA assets to $1,100,000. Amounts rolled over from qualified retirement plans, and the future growth on those rollover amounts, are both fully protected under the new federal law. These amounts are not counted toward your $1 million limit. So, in your case, the $500,000 of 401(k) monies you rolled into your IRAs is protected and is not counted toward your

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$1 million limit. The remaining $600,000 ($1,100,000 less $500,000) is still entirely protected as it falls below the $1 million limit. All of your $1,100,000 IRA assets are protected. To simplify your “counting,” you may want to keep your qualified retirement plan assets in an IRA other than the one to which you make your regular annual contributions. The best way to do this may be to establish a separate IRA and roll your “qualified” retirement plan assets directly into this new IRA. The rollover amount and all future growth will be easily identifiable. Proper financial planning includes making decisions about how to handle rollovers of qualified plan accounts and manage risks, including the potential risk of creditors. The important thing to remember is that you should avoid making rollover, risk management, or other financial decisions, based solely on one aspect of risk management. Consult with your financial advisor for assistance with rollover decisions and incorporating proper risk management into your financial plan. n Robert Dienelt is a Financial Advisor with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. He holds the designation of Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS) from the College for Financial Planning. His office is located in Brandon. He can be reached at Robert.Dienelt@RaymondJames. com or by phone at: 601-992-3067. To receive your complimentary of Investment Strategy Quarterly, please send your request to: Info.BrandonMS@RaymondJames.com


T h u r s d a y, F e b r u a r y 1 7 , 2 0 1 1

IT Day 2011: Live Connected!

Information

Education

Community

Save the Date!

• Attend the 3rd Annual Information Technology Day • Thursday, February 17, 9am-4pm Jackson Convention Complex Jackson, Mississippi • Free Admission!

Join us on February 17th to learn about: • Cyber security & education • How to market your business • Enterprise social software • How to do business with Lockheed Martin • And much, much more!

Event Sponsor:

Event Co-Sponsors: • AJA Management & Technical Services • AllStaff Technical Solutions • Delta Economic Development Center of Washington County • Electro National Corporation • Hinds County Economic Development District

Luncheon Keynote: Richard Clarke Former White House Counter-Terrorism Czar • Worked for 7 U.S. presidents and devoted 30 years to combating the terrorist threat to America • Author of Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It and New York Times best-seller Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror Optional luncheon tickets—$15/person

Spotlight Schools: • Jackson State University • Tougaloo College • Alcorn State University

• IMS Engineers

• Mississippi State University

• Mississippi Development Authority

• Mississippi Valley State

• Mississippi Technology Alliance

• University of Mississippi

• WCS Industries

• University of Southern Mississippi

Register online at www.itdayjackson.org Greater Jackson Business - 33


Corporate Spotlight

Standing: Kate Margolis, Will Manuel, Wendy Mullins, Bill Purdy Seated: Ralph Germany, Clarence Webster, Roy Campbell

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings: Jackson Law Firm Brings New Focus, Strong Commitment, Forward In 2011 (Greater Jackson Business Publisher Jack Criss recently sat down with Wendy Mullins, Special Counsel to Bradley Arant Bould Cummings in Jackson to discuss the firm, its work and future plans). GJB: Give a brief description/history of the Bradley Arant firm: Areas of expertise, how long in practice, number of associates, etc.? Mullins: Bradley Arant Boult Cummings (BABC) is the result of a 2009 merger between Boult Cummings Conners Berry, PLC of Nashville and Bradley Arant Rose & White LLP of Birmingham. Both firms have a long history of providing legal services, with each tracing their roots back more than 100 years. BABC is a full-service law firm, with seven offices located throughout Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. Together there are 380 attorneys (100 associates) practicing in over 20 practice areas.

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Specific to Mississippi, there are 26 attorneys in the Jackson office. The Mississippi presence for the firm dates back to April of 2001, when seven attorneys formerly with Lake Tindall, LLP joined BABC to offer commercial litigation, labor and employment, arbitration and mediation, and appellate services. By 2008, the Jackson office had grown to almost 20 attorneys, mainly focused on commercial litigation. The group experienced more growth in August of 2008 with the addition of Bill Purdy & Ralph Germany, practicing in the area of construction law. In January 2010, Steve Wilson and I joined the office, practicing in the areas of corporate and securities law. Steve came with more than 17 years experience; like him, I have spent 16 years focusing on corporate and transactional work. Nearly half of my career was spent in-house with SkyTel, a local paging company founded by John Palmer, eventually purchased by WorldCom, and now managed by American Messaging. Both Steve and I approach our practices with a goal of being viewed by our clients not as being brought in only dur-


ing times of trouble, but rather as extensions of the client’s in-house management team. We strive to be involved with many day-to-day discussions and evaluations of issues, and encourage our clients to take a more preventative (instead of reactive) view when using the services of their lawyers. In September 2010, Kelly Blackwood joined the team to practice environmental law; before entering private practice, Kelly was part of the legal staff of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. She handles a wide variety of environmental matters for clients with regulatory and litigation needs, and assists with permitting and compliance matters involving water, air, hazardous waste, solid waste, and pesticides. In November 2010, the firm continued its expansion with the addition of Rod Clement, one of Mississippi’s preeminent real estate lawyers. In addition to a thriving real estate practice, Rod also handles secured transactions and land use regulation. He regularly represents developers of shopping centers and office developments and borrowers, lenders and title insurers in secured financings. Examples of several of Rod’s recent projects include financing construction of power plants, purchasing of telecommunications systems, financing development of natural resources, including coal and off-shore mineral interests, and foreclosures of shopping centers and apartment complexes. BABC is one of the largest firms in the southeastern US. It is a full-service law firm offering legal counsel to a wide range of clients, from individuals to start-up companies to Fortune 100 corporations operating in local, national and international markets. GJB: How has the sluggish economy affected the firm’s business and/or ways of doing business? Mullins: Internally, the firm has been fortunate in that our national client base has insulated us somewhat from local downturns. Attorneys and staff alike have worked hard to manage expenses and resources. The firm is sensitive to the bud-

get needs of affected clients and has been proactive in managing costs without reducing services. GJB: Has there been a moratorium on hiring or is BABC taking on new employees or new law school graduates? Mullins: No moratorium is in place at BABC, as you can see just from our growth over the past 12 months with the additions of Steve Wilson, Kelly Blackwood, Rod Clement and me. In fact, more than ever BABC is committed to pursuing the best and the brightest. Looking solely at the Jackson office, just last year we concluded a full summer associate program with six law students from schools across the country. We enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with these bright minds and have already extended several full-time associate job offers to members of that class, who will start in the fall of 2012 after completing federal judicial clerkships. In addition, we have just recently welcomed a new associate, Stacey Moore, who comes to us from the Cleary Gottlieb firm in New York; and look forward to another new lawyer, Erin Bachman, joining us this fall after she graduates from MC Law School, where she is serving as Editor-in-Chief of the law review. Across the entire firm we are excited about the 17 recent law school graduates who joined the firm this past September as new associates. GJB: What is BABC best known for? Any specific area of expertise for which you have developed a special reputation? Mullins: BABC is definitely a full-service law firm that prides itself on having experienced attorneys in all of its 30 or so designated practice areas; but we believe we do have particular strengths and core competencies in the areas of construction, economic development, emerging and family-owned businesses, financial institutions and services, health care, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation, private equity, and real

estate. The Jackson office has earned a positive reputation for its commercial litigation, labor and employment, construction and appellate services, and we are positive the future is bright for the new corporate and securities and commercial real estate practices here. One area where BABC can clearly distinguish itself from other local firms also offering corporate services is in the area of intellectual property and emerging growth companies. Looking at specifics, BABC has a strong group of 17 licensed patent attorneys within the firm. Several on this team have already made trips to Jackson to assist with local client needs and we are excited to be able to contribute to the local market so quickly. Also, we are very excited that we now have a licensed patent attorney right here in the Jackson office. Associate Jeremy Clay passed the patent bar exam in 2010, and is eager to put his credentials to work in Jackson. GJB: Discuss the importance of BABC being located in downtown Jackson: how significant is that to the firm? What does the location add to the firm’s strength and, conversely, what does BABC bring to Jackson? Mullins: BABC has a strong commitment to the communities where the firm has offices. This takes the form of a significant investment in pro bono work and support for attorneys who choose to devote their volunteer efforts to charitable organizations. For example, our lawyers recently represented, pro bono, a class of children in the custody of the State’s Department of Human Services, and helped to negotiate a settlement that ensures additional safeguards and improved conditions for children in foster care. Likewise, our partner David Pharr recently completed a term as the Chair of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Executive Committee Board as well as serving on the Executive Committee of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership. This year David continues to serve on the Board Greater Jackson Business - 35


of Directors and Executive Committee for the Chamber in his role as Immediate Past Chair of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. Our belief at BABC is that just signing up for membership in one organization or another is not enough – we encourage active participation, which hopefully will produce positive results for all. David is also working to help establish a non-profit aimed at developing a bike trail to connect downtown Jackson to the museum complex at Lefleur’s Bluff State Park. Additionally, Kathleen Shields O’Beirne, an associate in the Jackson office, sits on the Board of The Women’s Fund of Mississippi; Kathleen and I also serve on the Development Committee for The Women’s Fund. The Women’s Fund is part of a global network of organizations (over 175 around the world) who know that women are the cornerstone of a safe, just, and healthy society. The Women’s Fund is dedicated to improving the lives of women and young girls by promoting social change and economic self-sufficiency through advocacy and strategic grant-making. Our commitment to this community has also been demonstrated in a more tangible and immediate way by our financial investment in downtown Jackson. The firm recently completed a third major expansion of our downtown office space in One Jackson Place. We believe that a vibrant and stable downtown economy is critical to the entire metro area, and being downtown puts us at the heart of the political and cultural capital of Mississippi. GJB: What types of cases are you seeing more of recently? And what issues, in your opinion, should smaller businesses pay

more attention to in legal trends now taking place? Mullins: The Jackson office offers legal services in a number of areas, including arbitration and mediation, commercial and appellate litigation, labor and employment, construction and now corporate, environmental, and real estate law. For purposes of this spotlight, let’s focus on the current corporate and securities landscape, and what we see on the horizon: More and more, businesses are banking on intangible assets like processes and techniques for significant portions of their current and future revenue streams. Proactively protecting those assets with the appropriate intellectual property filings and registrations (trademarks, copyrights, patents, etc.), and being mindful of protecting the integrity of those assets, is critical to the success and failure of the company. But that is not the end of the process: businesses also can leverage their intellectual property by licensing those assets for use by third parties, using agreements carefully crafted to fit their particular industry. BABC offers the level of expertise in those areas needed to meet the challenges of doing business in today’s rapidly changing market. GJB: What does the new year hold for your firm? Mullins: We certainly expect the Jackson office to continue to experience growth in all areas, but I’ll focus your question on the new corporate and securities group. With the addition of the corporate and real estate practice groups in the Jackson office we are looking ahead to what 2011 will deliver. BABC has the resources and capabilities to assist companies with the

traditional corporate needs, but we believe we have the capacity to handle the more complex needs that companies are facing in today’s business environment such as trying to raise capital in a tight market, protecting traditional but also more non-traditional assets like the intellectual property discussed earlier, and counseling companies on other start-up challenges. Another project that we have in the works that is not quite ripe for public announcement has us all very excited and will be unveiled very soon. For now, suffice to say it is going to be like no other program available in the State of Mississippi and has already received support from several groups across the state. The program will be geared toward helping facilitate an environment within Mississippi that will enable, encourage and foster the many start-up and emerging-growth companies that we have already identified. We truly hope to create a domino effect, so that as these companies succeed, they will help provide opportunities for our State’s talented graduates and/or bring more talent into the State. Over time, this will result in the need for more housing, better schools, and new and better infrastructure, all of which will produce new jobs and opportunities throughout the state. Of course, as with any project of this kind, there are significant risks. But after careful analysis and diligence by those both inside and outside the state BABC truly feels that Mississippi has been overlooked in terms of the opportunities available. We are prepared to take the risk, dedicate the resources and are banking that we and the entire State will be successful at tapping into some of these opportunities. n

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Greater Jackson Business - 37


Guest Opinions John Turner

Economic Development, Community Development

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t Entergy Mississippi, collaboration with local and regional partners is business as usual. Success in economic development requires a commitment to teamwork and good relationships with community partners. Nowhere is that more prevalent than in central Mississippi. For instance, our economic development organization works closely with the Greater Jackson Alliance (GJA) and its local members to recruit new and existing businesses and create jobs for central Mississippi. One current area of focus with the GJA and the Jackson-Evers International Airport is to develop aerospace as a targeted industry here. Such development would be a great asset to the Greater Jackson area, causing wide-ranging positive impacts for a variety of related businesses. Another key focus is working closely with economic development professionals and local leadership to ensure our communities are ready when an opportunity presents itself. For that reason, we continue to partner with local communities in assessing existing industrial sites and buildings in Mississippi’s communities. We offer a site qualification program, which helps local communities anticipate, plan for and meet the competitive demands of locating major manufacturers and businesses in their areas. Last year, Entergy developed and made available to all of our regional and local allies a state-of-the-art website that includes all of the region’s marketable sites, buildings and supporting demographic information. This is important because such information is often the first step in marketing your assets to site consultants. At Entergy Mississippi, we believe it’s vital that Mississippi’s capitol continue to develop as a vibrant place to do business. Development in Jackson not only spurs economic growth in central Mississippi, it impacts the economic development of our entire state. For that reason, Entergy Mississippi is an active participant working with the city, county and organizations like the Downtown Jackson Partners on projects that revitalize our state capitol. A good example of future growth is the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which has an aggressive plan to expand their academic programs and upgrade their facilities. With 8,500 employees, UMMC is one of the largest employers in Mississippi. The Medical Center’s $1.3 billion annual budget represents 10 percent of the Jackson metro area economy and two percent of the state economy. Despite the recent national recession, UMMC continues to grow in all its mission areas. This growth will have a significant economic impact on the community, region and state. We pride ourselves on staying connected with our customers, meeting the needs of our existing businesses and establishing relationships that lead to new opportunities. Because at the end of the day, we believe good partnerships really do mean good business. n John Turner is Director, Economic Development, for Entergy Mississippi in Jackson.

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Greater Jackson Business - 39


Economy Carl Emanuel Snell, Jr.

When Will Jobs and Housing Improve

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hat will it take for the housing market and employment to really improve? It really boils down to the two greatest economic factors of all: supply and demand. What needs to happen in the labor market? Ideally, a swift rise in consumer demand for goods and services in 2011 spurs businesses to hire, with no need for another costly federal stimulus. About 125,000 people enter the U.S. labor force every month, so job creation needs to hit that level just to tread water in terms of employment–to-population ratio. Data from the Brookings Institution shows that 280,000 new positions emerged monthly at the peak of job creation in the 2000s. Back in 1994, the economy was creating an average of 321,000 new jobs a month. As 2010 drew to a close, our economy wasn’t anywhere near that. According to the Labor Department, 71,000 new non-farm jobs were created in November and 103,000 new non-farm jobs in December. Last month, the government said that private payrolls grew by 113,000 (297,000 according to payroll services provider ADP). Yet the December report also indicated a 1.3 million monthover-month rise in the population of discouraged workers who had simply stopped seeking jobs. On December 7, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told the Senate Budget Committee that while we were seeing a “self-sustaining” economic recovery, the jobless rate would likely remain elevated through 2015 or 2016.3 Perhaps 2011 could be better than we expect. A Manpower Inc. survey of employers in December found that 73% foresaw no change in the pace of hiring at their firms for the first quarter of 2011. However, the survey did find that seasonally adjusted (read: net) hiring was projected to rise from 5% in the past quarter to 9% in 1Q 2011.

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That represents a significant jump in net hiring and suggests either the perception or reality of rising demand in some industries. The Bureau of Economic Analysis recently reported a 3.4% year-over-year rise in disposable personal incomes for 3Q 2010, which would seem to promote a consumer spending increase. Federal Reserve data showed consumer credit card debt ticking back up by 0.6% in September and 1.7% in October after months of decreases; this is another potential sign of a rebound in consumer spending and consumer confidence. What needs to happen in real estate? Well, two key factors do seem to be in place to encourage a rebound. Interest rates on 30-year conventional home loans are still below 5%; compare that with 9.4% as recently as the early part of 1989. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index tells us that existing home prices dropped 29.6% between July 2006 and October 2010, and some analysts see them falling further.6,7 But two cold, hard facts remain in the way of a recovery. You can’t buy a home if you don’t have a job. Unemployment and its cousin underemployment represent the biggest drag on the real estate market - thwarting purchases, reducing demand, and hastening delinquencies and foreclosures. You can’t readily sell your home if it is “underwater”. The latest CoreLogic Inc. data shows that 22.5% of U.S. homeowners owe more than their residences are worth. During 2009-2010, any sense of momentum or recovery seemed a product of government intervention. The homebuyer tax credit led to a spike in sales, then a reversal. Turning from the month-to-month “weather” of the real estate market to year-over-year numbers, you would think things couldn’t get any worse: according to the latest figures (November), existing home sales were down 27.9% year-over-year and new home sales down 21.2% from 12 months before. However, some of the “weather” bears studying; things did get sunnier during 2010 in some respects. Mortgage rates didn’t rocket north when the Fed ended its campaign to buy mortgage-backed securities last March. (The European debt crisis had an effect.) Existing home sales rose by 5.6% in November, and the rate of new home purchases also improved


by 5.5%. Pending home sales, as tracked by the National Association of Realtors, were up a record 10.4% in October and up another 3.5% for November. Ideally, 2011 brings some kind of sweet spot for the residential real estate sector where job creation ramps up while mortgage rates remain historically low for a few months. That could contribute nicely toward a recovery in the sector in 2012. n

BUSINESS

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Carl Emanuel Snell Sr. is a Representative with LPL Financial and may be reached at representativephone or 601-956-4280 http://www.lpl.com. Securities are offered through LPL Financial Member FINRA/SIPC This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. If assistance or further information is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional.

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w h i l e s o m e l aw f i r m s a re bu s y t ry i n g to m a k e a n a m e f o r t h e m s e lve s , we prefer

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News Feed Leadership Madison County Class Selected The Leadership Madison County Board of Trustees and the Madison County Chamber of Commerce is proud to present the 21st class of Leadership Madison County (LMC). Leadership Madison County’s mission is to provide leaders with a deeper understanding of the critical issues affecting Madison County in an environment that furthers their leadership skills and encourages graduates to take their knowledge and their experience into the community for the betterment of Madison County. Class members began community awareness sessions that address a variety of topics including education, healthcare, diversity, economic development, government, criminal and judicial systems and quality of life. Class participants will also design and implement group projects that address a need/opportunity in Madison County. The Opening Retreat was held at Eagle Ridge Conference Center. The retreat emphasizes teambuilding exercises and uses a variety of teaching methods. “The opening retreat really set the tone for our program; the participants are challenged to learn more about themselves and their leadership styles while getting to know each other in a great environment,” said Gay Saxon of Eagle Ridge Conference Center.

Leadership Madison Class

Back row: Bo Pentecost, Solve Design Studios; Susan Smith, VIP Grand Events; Susan McCarty, Madison County Justice Court; Clarence Guthrie, The Guthrie Firm. Middle row: Aaron Samuels, HORNE LLP; Stephen Magown, Madison Motor Werks; LeAnn Nealey, Butler Snow; Wayne Walters, Baptist Health Systems; Jerry Jackson, Trustmark Bank; Leona Phillips, BankPlus; Kamesha Mumford, Madison County Chancery Clerk; Melva Butler, St. Catherine’s Village. Front row: Benjamin Sones, Watkins Ludlam Winter & Stennis; Kirk Ivan, Eubank & Betts; Kasey Perry, Madison County Chamber; Renee DeWeese, Renaissance at Colony Park

46 - Greater Jackson Business

Belhaven University To Complete Walking Trails and Offer Public Health Seminars Belhaven University will partner with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation to further the University’s commitment to fostering healthy life styles for its students, faculty, staff, and the Belhaven community-at-large. Made possible by a $350,000 grant from the Foundation, the key components of the effort revolve around the development of two walking trails on the University’s 46 acre campus; informative and interactive health and wellness seminars, the completion of the campus exercise center, and the addition of a wellness message into the many summer camps held on the BU campus. Construction has already begun on the walking trails with an anticipated completion date of November. The “Campus Gold” trail will be approximately a mile in length and traverse the outside of the campus while the “Academic Green” trail will be just under a half mile and will highlight the center of campus. The community health seminars will kick-off in January and will feature local and regional experts. Both the walking trails and the wellness seminars will be open to both students and the general public. Belhaven University President, Dr. Roger Parrott, noted that the gift from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation caps off a multi-year effort. “Three years ago we began an aggressive initiative to help our students develop healthy lifestyles.  This gift from Blue Cross dramatically advances this effort by helping our students develop life-long exercise patterns. I’m especially thrilled we can invite our neighbors to use these walking trails and offer to them healthy living educational experience. We have a very special relationship with our neighbors, and I look forward to seeing neighbors coming to our campus to use these new walking trails.” “The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is focused on providing resources and funding to continue our commitment to a healthier Mississippi. We are excited about the health and wellness initiatives being implemented at Belhaven University that will foster a healthy environment for the university and surrounding community,” said Sheila Grogan, Executive Director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation Director, Virgi Lindsay also welcomed the partnership. “This announcement is wonderful news for the residents of Belhaven and will only add to the vibrant community activities found in the neighborhood. We are excited that this project will not only benefit the University but will greatly enhance the Neighborhood as a whole.” The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation serves as a catalyst for programs and initiatives designed to improve the health of Mississippians. More information about the Foundation is available at www.healthiermississippi.org.

Account Services Group Representative Earns CIC Designation Teressa L. Fortenberry Receives Service Accreditation Account Services Group has announced that Teressa L. Fortenberry, a customer service representative with the firm has earned her Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation from the Society of Certified Insurance Representatives. The CIC program involves five rigorous courses that expound insurance policies, risks, coverage, and exposures. With less than 300 of these designations in the state of Mississippi, this elite certification aids insurance professionals such as Fortenberry to better serve clients through her distinguished knowledge and credibility. Along with over 30 years of commercial and personal insurance experience and a degree in Business Administration, she has also effectuated the Certified Professional Service Representative (CSPR) designation. Known for great service and being highly customer oriented, Fortenberry attributes her success to a genuine desire to ensure that her customers are all receiving premiere insurance care.

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings Named One of the Most Recommended Litigation - Firms in the World by Large Corporate Clients Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP is pleased to announce the firm has been ranked as one of the most recommended litigation firms in the world by inhouse counsel at Fortune 1000 companies. In the BTI Litigation Outlook for 2011, Bradley Arant is one of 24 litigation firms most recommended by large corporate clients. To compile the ranking, BTI directly interviewed more than 300 Fortune 1000 general counsel, practice leaders and in-house litigation counsel and asked them to single out, by name, the best law firms for litigation. “This is a tremendous honor and we are happy to see our work recognized in this way,” said firm Chairman Beau Grenier. “There is no greater measure of a firm than the respect of its clients, and it is gratifying to see this reflected in the BTI survey.” BPI’s research for Litigation Outlook 2011 included interviews with the world’s top-spending and most coveted clients, ranging from up-andcoming middle market biotechs to Fortune 50 manufacturing behemoths. Other industries included banking, chemicals, consumer goods, energy, financial services, high tech, insurance, investment, banking, pharmaceuticals, professional services, retail, telecom,transportation, and wholesale trade. Companies included in the survey had annual revenues from $290 million to $360 billion, with an average legal budget of $21.5 million.


News Feed Tracing its roots to 1871, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP has more than 380 attorneys in seven offices, and is one of the largest law firms in the Southeast. The firm maintains offices in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Montgomery, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s lawyers serve clients locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, and provide services across a wide range of industries, including accounting, automotive, banking and finance, biotechnology, life sciences, construction, education, emerging business, energy, entertainment, equipment leasing, forest products, government contracts, health care, life sciences, hospitality, insurance, manufacturing, materials and aggregate production, media and communications, mining, municipal and public finance, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, public utilities, real estate, retail, steel, technology, telecommunications, textiles, transportation, and venture capital. Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP is pleased to announce that partner David K. Pharr and special counsel Wendy R. Mullins have been named to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Technology and Intellectual Property Study Group. The group, formed by the Policy & Research Division of the Secretary of State’s office, is tasked with studying Mississippi law regarding technology and intellectual property, making recommendations to the legislature, formulating the recommendations into proposed legislation, and reviewing proposals with members of the legislature. In particular, the group will be asked to consider possible revisions to the Mississippi Uniform Trade Secrets Act concerning the adoption of a right to publicity statute, whether and how to adopt incentives to attract technology companies to the state, and whether to adopt legislation regarding electronic transactions and software contracts. David K. Pharr is a litigator who focuses his practice on commercial litigation, including intellectual property disputes. He also has significant experience handling litigation involving insurance coverage, personal injury, construction, employment disputes, real estate, and environmental matters. Wendy R. Mullins divides her practice between transactional matters and general corporate law. Prior to joining Bradley Arant Boult Cummings she served as general counsel with SkyTel Corp., a wireless communications company.

Three Burr & Forman Atorneys honored by 2010 Mid-South Super Lawyers Burr & Forman LLP is proud to announce that Lawrence R. Ahern, III (Bankruptcy & Creditor/ Debtor Rights), Darlene T. Marsh (Bankrupt-

cy & Creditor Debtor Rights) and Bradley B. Vance (Litigation) have been honored by MidSouth Super Lawyers. Ahern was named among Tennessee¹s Top 100 Lawyers, Marsh was also included on the list of Mid-South Super Lawyers and Vance was named among the ³Mid-South Rising Stars.² Only five percent of attorneys in the MidSouth states, which include Arkansas, Mississip-

pi and Tennessee, and no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the Mid-South states are named to the Rising Stars list. Rising Stars are attorneys who are 40 years old or younger, or who have been practicing for 10 years or less. Ahern and Marsh are located in the firm’s Nashville office and Vance is located in the Jackson office. n

Business Bookshelf Real-Time Marketing and PR: How to Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products That Grow Your Business Now by David Meerman Scott John Wiley Publishing (November 2010)

services to figure out how you are responding to Lemuria in the instant and reacting to your response. Real-time marketing is a mindset we are trying to learn about. Scott’s very new book has given me many fresh ideas–more ways to enhance our Lemuria experience, and enlarging what we can do beyond the brick and mortar tools. We are Jackson’s real bookstore; however, if you don’t live close by, we want to connect with you as if you had just walked into Lemuria to browse and talk books. We are striving to offer more convenience than we have ever been able to in the past. n (Contributed by John Evans, owner, Lemuria Bookstore. Go to www.lemuria.com)

BUSINESS

Business News for Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties

As we seem to be coming out of the tough last two years, it’s obvious that doing business will be different than before the recession. Marketing appears to be going through a major overhaul. The new rules are being formed in the present tense. Not only are our businesses changing rapidly, new customer habits are being formed daily with the increase of constant information access. Real-time marketing is about connecting with your customers and speeding up your marketing. We know customers want immediate thoughtful information and response. They want quick recognition and satisfaction for their effort and action. Lemuria is trying to react immediately to help service your reading needs. With our Facebook and blog work, we are striving for more real time communication. Most small businesses are not set up to respond to opportunities in real time, thus wasting customer reaction time. We are interested in using our web

Online Exclusive Content! Visit us online at greaterjacksonbusiness.com

Greater Jackson Business - 47


Business Seen Ribbon Cuttings from Around the Metro.

Photos Courtesy Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership

360 Total Rehab - 46 Northtowne Dr. - Jackson

Chick-Fil-A - 274 Dogwood Blvd. - Flowood

Circa - 2771 Old Canton Rd - Jackson

Eley, Guild, Hardy Architects - 329 E. Capitol St.

Elims Art Concepts - 1434 Ellis Ave. - Jackson

Hair Gallery II - 4509 Ofice PArk Dr. - Jackson

One Hour Heating and Air of Jackson

Oriental Supermarket & Restaurant - Jackson

48 - Greater Jackson Business


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If you can’t be there, we can. She’s one fastball away from victory, and when she lets it go, the crowd’s gonna go wild. But if you can’t be there cheering in the stands, you can still make sure that she knows you believe in her. Farm Bureau Insurance has a wide range of life insurance policies that can meet your family’s needs, so you can help her feel like a winner, no matter what happens.

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50 - Greater Jackson Business Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co., Jackson, MS


Greater Jackson Business, Volume 2, Issue 1