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Regions Financial Corporation Regions Bank established itself in the Mississippi market in 2005 after its merger with Union Planters. Today, Regions boasts locations in communities throughout the state, carrying on a proud legacy of local involvement in dozens of cities and towns. ■ Offering an extensive array of banking options and products, Regions combines an unwavering personal focus rarely found in the 21st century with the strength and technological influence of a leading financial institution. Its services include personal banking, alternative investments, small business banking, commercial bank-ing, residential real estate, cash management services, and trust and investment management. “We are a Southern-based company with roots in our local communities,” says Curt Gabardi, president and chief executive officer of Regions Bank in Greater Mississippi. “The consolidation of two strong banks to form one outstanding bank has enabled us to offer customers even more in the way of great products and services.” Reputation for Quality Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, Regions Bank offers full-service commercial and retail banking from more than 1,300 offices with a 1,600-ATM network across 16 states throughout the South, Midwest, and Texas. Parent company Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF) is a member of Forbes and Fortune 500 and is ranked as one of the nation’s top 15 financial services providers with more than $85 billion in assets. Regions investment and securities brokerage, trust and asset management division, Morgan Keegan & Company Inc., provides services from over 250 offices, contributing to the full range of products available to customers. Jimmy Brown, regional president of Regions North Mississippi bank-ing group, describes the bank’s philosophy as a one-on-one approach in which banker and customer work together to determine the right solution, no matter how complex. “When you have a singular focus on the customer, positive things happen,” he says. “Our vision is to be the trusted adviser of choice, delivering financial solutions better than anyone else.”

Expanded Services Just as Regions operations have expanded over the years, so have the options it provides to customers. New options include a free Regions Platinum Visa CheckCard with Regions Rewards and Visa Extras program. Using these products, customers can earn points toward incredible extras from more than 80 of America’s best-known companies such as the NFL, NASCAR, and Starbucks, while enjoying discounts such as free shipping or a free night’s stay at a favorite hotel. Regions also offers higher daily limits, emergency cash and card replacement, cardholder inquiry, lost/stolen card reporting and warranty manager, purchase security, fraud risk identification service, and zero liability protection. In addition, Regions Bank offers Free RegionsNET Online Banking with Bill Pay and a new free business checking account, as well as expanded lending capabilities for customers through strong mortgage, insurance, and brokerage operations.

us on the Regions team in Mississippi can achieve both through superior customer service and outstanding community involvement.” ■ Regions Bank, established in Mississippi in 2005 when it merged with Union Planters, offers a full range of quality products and services to customers.

Visible Civic Leader Dedicated to strengthening the communities in which it serves, Regions Bank is involved in a wide spectrum of economic, social, and cultural activities. These include United Way, the Mississippi Museum of Art, Junior Achievement of Mississippi, numerous Adopt-a-School programs, and much more. The bank also generously donated the Alamo Cultural Center to the Farish Street District. “Our plan, as always, is to help our customers and communities meet their everyday financial needs and goals – and to realize their dreams,” says Gabardi. “We are confident that all of

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BancorpSouth Headquartered in Tupelo, BancorpSouth is an $11.8 billion asset banking company with 271 locations in six states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. Not only is BancorpSouth the largest home-owned bank in Mississippi, it is one of the largest banks in the nation with a home office in a town with a population of 36,000. BancorpSouth was recently rated by Michael White and Associates and the American Bankers Insurance Association 18th in the nation in insurance brokerage fee income among all bank holding companies. The history of BancorpSouth traces back to the late 1800s and is the result of many small banks merging and changing names. The story of what has become one of the nation’s strongest regional banks dates back to charters in 1876, when the bank started doing business in Verona, Mississippi. Routing of the railroad industry resulted in the bank moving its headquarters to Tupelo. Big Bank Products-Small Bank Friendliness CEO and Chairman of the Board, Aubrey Patterson, says what separates BancorpSouth from other financial institutions is its community bankstyled service coupled with big-bank product and service offerings. “Because we are headquartered in a small town and are made up of a family of banks that are local community banks, we’ve never lost sight of the importance of one-on-one customer

Pictured is CEO and Chairman of the Board Aubrey Patterson and BancorpSouth's headquarters in Tupelo.

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service. Yet, with over $11 billion in assets, we are large enough to compete with any of the large banks in terms of our technology, product offerings and benefits for our customers,” he explained. Winds of Change When Hurricane Katrina hit in the summer of 2005, BancorpSouth was quick to respond. First with an outstanding level of response from its local Gulf Coast management and staff in getting branches reopened and operating, and then by communicating with customers concerning branches that were open, and later by spearheading relief funds. The bank is extremely active in promoting the Rebuild the Coast Fund on its web site and in bank locations. Mississippi author, John Grisham, and his wife, Renee, initially funded the Rebuild the Coast Fund. The Grishams donated $5 million to initiate the fund on September 2 – just days after Katrina’s devastation. The bank was also quick to establish

an Employee Relief Fund to assist BancorpSouth employees and their families as they rebuild from the hurricane. Employees were also encouraged by matching funds to contribute to the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross. Patterson explained, “We are extraordinarily proud of the response of our colleagues at BancorpSouth. Whether through company wide contributions of money and supplies or through direct on-the-ground assistance, our people and our company are continuing to rise to the challenges presented by the destruction and disruption caused by the hurricane.” Rebuilding and Growing Together Patterson says the bank is helping its Mississippi customers by allowing them to do what they do best – pick up, rebuild, and eventually to prosper. He said, “We know our customers have a hard hill to climb, but we will be there with them every step of the way. We had branches damaged and destroyed, and we are doing what our customers are doing – and we are helping them get back to business. “We will continue to grow with our customers by operating like a local community bank – with deci-sion makers in the local branches – and by giving our customers the level of service they deserve. That’s our niche, local decision making with the support of an incredibly strong financial institution. What it comes down to is working for the community, our customers, and our shareholders. Everyone wins when we work together.” ■


Trustmark Corporation Trustmark, one of the South’s leading financial institutions and Jackson’s oldest, has a history of meeting customers’ banking needs that extends back to 1889. Headquartered in Mississippi’s capital city, Trustmark is an $8.1 billion financial services company with over 2,600 associates and more than 145 locations in Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. ■ It is only fitting that the bank known today as Trustmark was the sole financial institution in Jackson to stay open during the “bank holiday” of the Great Depression. For more than a century, the same level of confidence, integrity, and service has been the bank’s hallmark – even in the toughest times. “Our success is measured one customer at a time,” says Richard G. Hickson, Trustmark’s Chairman and CEO. “That’s why we focus on building strong relationships by knowing our customers, understanding their business and personal needs, and providing appropriate financial solutions. Trustmark has distinguished itself from its peers by a commitment to world-class customer satisfaction as well as providing leadership in the communities it serves.” Trustmark’s mission is to achieve outstanding customer satisfaction by providing banking, wealth management, and insurance solutions through superior sales and service, utilizing excellent people, teamwork, and diversity while meeting corporate financial goals. Building on a Firm Foundation Through many years of growth and expansion, Trustmark has broadened its customer base by increasing the number of markets it serves, as well as

the products and services it provides. After building a statewide banking franchise in Mississippi, Trustmark expanded into the insurance industry in 1999. In 2001, Trustmark moved into the Tennessee market, then entered the Florida and Texas markets in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Trustmark has become a diversified financial services partner for its customers by providing banking, wealth man-agement, and insurance solutions through its subsidiaries, including Trustmark National Bank, Trustmark Securities, Inc., Trustmark Invest-ment Advisors, Inc., Bottrell Insur-ance Agency, Inc., and Fisher-Brown, Inc. Hitting a Home Run for the Community In the spring of 2005, Trustmark Park opened in Pearl as home to the new Mississippi Braves, the Atlanta Braves’ Class AA team. The new $25 million sports complex closely resembles Turner Field in Atlanta with an amphitheater design, playing field below the entrance, 360-degree concourse, and total seating capacity of 7,200. This partnership is highly beneficial for the state, giving Mississippians the chance to experience top-notch family entertainment while also enjoying the economic benefits that a facility like

this can provide. Trustmark received the Better Business Bureau’s 2004 Integrity Award in recognition of its outstanding principles of ethics and customer service. As a result of the commitment of their associates, Trustmark has been recognized by Governor Haley Barbour as a recip-ient of the 2004 GIVE Award, the Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence. Improving the lives of people in the communities they serve, associates participate in over 30,000 volunteer hours annually in more than 80 not-for-profit children’s, civic, cultural, educational, health, social services, and professional organizations. “The strength of Trustmark’s brand will be determined over time by the consistency and quality of the experience our customers have while doing business with us,” says Hickson. “Likewise, our commitment to leadership in the communities in which we live and work will continue to reflect Trustmark’s position as a community partner in the future.” ■

Trustmark’s neighborhood Ridgeland office at twilight.

Trustmark Park, which sits just off Interstate 20 in Pearl, Mississippi, seats over 7,000 fans and is the home to the Mississippi Braves.

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Renasant Bank With perseverance as its watchword, Renasant Bank has a rich history of achievement in its journey to becoming one of Mississippi’s most successful companies. A collection of community banks that values its relationships with employees and clients above all else, Renasant has found its strength in being a company dedicated to solid leadership, innovation, and community partnership. From its humble beginning as a makeshift $100,000 bank started in an old Lee County bakery to its current multi-state 61 banking and insurance offices with $2.4 billion in assets, Renasant Bank has evolved into a multiple financial services provider that is stronger than ever. Solid Leadership Thirty years before Elvis Presley’s fame put Tupelo, Mississippi, on the map as his birthplace, a group of prominent businessmen from this little known town and Lee County joined together in 1904 to form The Peoples Bank & Trust Company. Nearly a century later Peoples would become Renasant Bank. Due to excellent leadership during its early days, “Peoples,”

Renasant Bank Chief Executive Officer, E. Robinson McGraw.

Corporate office in Tupelo.

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as it was affectionately known, withstood the Bankers’ Panic of 1907 that shut down approximately 100 Mississippi banks. Through this same perseverance, Renasant also survived the “National Bank Holiday” that shut down an additional 68 Mississippi banks in 1929. While many banks could not repay previous depositors, all of Renasant’s depositors were ultimately repaid. As Renasant Mississippi President Mitch Waycaster put it, “Many folks’ grandparents remember when Mississippi banks were shutting down and not paying their clients on their deposits. The bank gained the trust of the community by following through on deposit payments, and many of our clients of today are from those families that Renasant served many years ago.” Moving past those character build-ing years in the banking industry to multiple mergers, acquisitions, and expansion, Renasant Bank has strengthened its position in the marketplace and is poised for even more success in its second 100 years. Innovation Although the bank has humble roots, it has never shied from taking advantage of opportunities to better serve

clients through innovation. Renasant Bank was the first bank in Lee County to establish a separate savings department, to pay uniform rates on savings accounts and time certificates, to use home savings banks, to offer bank by mail, and to establish branches. It was also the first bank to introduce automated cash dispensing machines, and the first commercial bank in Mississippi to introduce a debit card. The bank was also one of the first to offer automatic sweep accounts, imaged bank statements, and statements on CD-ROM. To this day, Renasant remains a regional leader in banking innovation and cutting edge business services. Community Partnership As relationships are most important to Renasant, the bank’s reputation for involvement in the community of the people it serves is well known. From its employees leadership roles and membership in many nationally known philanthropic organizations to the bank’s charitable contributions and the leasing of its original headquarters for $1 a year as a non-profit museum, Renasant has always been a progressive leader for community improvement and development. “We look forward to a bright future of stronger growth, prosperous communities, and life-long relationships,” explains Chairman and CEO E. Robinson McGraw. “At Renasant we truly believe that we are more than a bank.” ■



- A Growing Tradition of Service

Belzoni is one of those quaint little towns in the Mississippi Delta where everybody knows everybody else, and that’s where BankPlus traces its roots. Founded there in 1909 as Citizens Bank & Trust Company, BankPlus began with a single office. But everyone worked hard and discovered that when you give people a little more than they’re expecting, you get a loyal customer for life. It’s a simple but profound idea that has guided us for nearly a century. Over those early years, CB&T opened offices in nearby Delta towns with names like Bentonia, Isola, and Yazoo City, and eventually grew to include locations in central Mississippi. Finally, after a merger with Southeast Mississippi in other parts of the state as well. Commitment Then, in 1994, our name changed to BankPlus. This was more than a simple name change. It was a rededication to offering superior products and service. To go with our new name, we created the slogan, “It’s more than a name. It’s a promise.” which reflects our desire to offer enhanced services and emphasizes our commitment to giving our customers more for their money. Growth Today, as a result of that commitment, BankPlus has grown to include banking offices in dozens of Mississippi communities. We owe our success to the dedication, high performance and optimism of our employees. And we promise to keep leading the way with innovative products like ValuePlus Free Checking, convenient services like our 7 a.m.-7 p.m. drive-thrus, and a continuing commitment to giving our customers more than they expect. Since our name change, this dedication has helped BankPlus become one of the fastest-growing banks in the entire region. Never-theless, however big we grow, we remain proud of our community banking roots and strive daily to maintain and build upon that dedication.

to continuing our tradition of community service everywhere we call home. When-ever our friends and neighbors need a helping hand, the people of Bank-Plus will always be there for them. As BankPlus President Bill Ray puts it, “No matter how big we grow, we remain proud of our community banking roots and strive daily to maintain and build upon that dedication.

We’re grateful for our customers’ support, and we’ll work to earn it every day in everything we do.” ■

Citizens Bank & Trust Company in Belzoni, circa 1955.

BankPlus Office at Treetops in Flowood, 2005.

It’s All About Community At BankPlus, we are passionate about supporting community causes with time as well as money. We also look forward

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Entergy Mississippi What does the power company of the future look like? It closely resembles the one that’s been taking shape in western Mississippi for the past several years – but even better. ■ In recent years, Entergy Mississippi has aggressively reshaped itself into one of the highest performing, customeroriented electric utilities in America. Power reliability is soaring. Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high, and third-party customer opinion polls are listing Entergy Mississippi as one of the

Entergy Mississippi’s drive to be the power company of the future carries a strong focus on innovative products and service reliability for customers.

top customer service organizations in the nation. Entergy Mississippi is establishing itself as a company with a conscience. Its progressive environmental policies are garnering international praise for reducing greenhouse emissions. Its economic development activities are helping retain and create jobs for thousands. And the company’s volunteer initiatives are helping low-income customers with energy expenses and housing improvements. “Entergy Mississippi has established real momentum,” says Carolyn Shanks, president and CEO of the company. “Our focus on fundamentals has improved reliability, customer service, and quality measures to levels never seen before. “Our customers are satisfied, but that doesn’t mean we are,” she adds. “It’s time to turn our attention to creating the power company of the future.” Refocusing the Company Entergy Mississippi’s origin dates back to 1923 when visionary businessman Harvey Couch established a multi-state utility network that would bring reli-

able, affordable electricity to hundreds of thousands of people. Today, the company is revving up its more than 80-year commitment to customers via an intensive focus on more reliable power, new innovative services, and increased involvement in its communities. Entergy Mississippi has hired more than 100 more linemen and support personnel, increasing responsiveness to service requests. The number of phone center agents has doubled and customers now have 24/7 access to the company. Meanwhile, customer service offices have reopened in 14 cities. A focus on equipment upgrades and tree trimming has slashed outages by 38 percent. And when there is an outage, it’s restored 50 percent faster than before. All of these improvements were made at an investment of $360 million by Entergy Mississippi. And all accom-plished while holding customer rates at mid-1980 levels. According to Shanks, the investments in customer service improvements simply set the stage for the future. “We’re proud of our rapid progress. But it also has to be clear that that’s all in the past now,” says Shanks. “In today’s world, yesterday’s successes have never mattered less. The world is changing. Mississippi is changing. Our customers are changing. Today is all about tomorrow.” A Look at Tomorrow So what does the future look like for Entergy Mississippi? “Our product is the fuel that drives Mississippi,” Shanks says. “Nearly every modern convenience has a wire on it. Our modern quality of life has a wire on it, and every one of those wires connects to Entergy. Powering the future is our business.”

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She describes a comprehensive strategy that will take Entergy “Beyond the Basics.” The initiatives include meeting the power demands of the future; strengthen-ing communities; exploring new technologies; sustaining affordable electric rates for all customers; and launching preemptive service strategies. At the forefront of Entergy’s focus is its commitment to keep the lights on. New strategies are enabling the company to improve service reliability and do what it takes to keep customers satisfied – whether they are new consumers just moving to town or long-time friends of several decades. In addition, Entergy is pioneering new concepts designed to make life easier for residents and increase profits for businesses. Web-based tools such as a residential calculator help customers manage electricity usage at home while infrared scanning enables large commercial and industrial customers to detect “hot spots” where worn electrical connections can lead to power outages. New phone center services feature agricultural specialists and Spanish-speaking phone agents, who make it easier for customers to get assistance. Meanwhile, customer service specialists are focused on the marketplace of the future, searching now for solutions that meet the needs of tomorrow’s customers before they even know they need them. Entergy’s economic development experts work with local leaders throughout the state to recruit new industry and prepare communities for growth. The effort is especially crucial in economically depressed areas such as the Mississippi Delta, where unemployment and poverty rates are among the nation’s highest. And Entergy works hand-in-glove with its existing customers to help their businesses succeed and grow.

Proud toCall Mississippi Home To meet Mississippi’s energy needs well into the future, Entergy is pursuing options that include another nuclear reactor at Grand Gulf and a 480megawatt, natural-gas-fired power plant near Kos-ciusko. In addition, the company routinely upgrades its existing generating plants to improve efficiency and increase power output. “We’re proud of the fact that Entergy’s generating fleet is one of the cleanest in the nation, producing 85 percent of its electricity from clean nuclear and natural gas fuel sources,” says Shanks. “As a result, greenhouse gas emissions from Entergy plants are far below the industry average.” Powered by a workforce com-

Not Your Parents’ Power Company Entergy Mississippi is going above and beyond to address customer expectations as it prepares for the future. The company understands its job of keeping the lights on – but its commitment to moving “beyond the basics” involves a great deal more than that. It means intuitive planning and responsible decision-making. It’s about community leadership and respecting the environment. It requires a passion to perform – and compassion for those who need a helping hand. “At the end of the day, we want any one of our people to be able to look our customers in the eye and say, ‘Sure, we’re a power company. Just not the kind you’d expect.’ That’s the Entergy we’re creating for tomorrow,” said Shanks. ■

mitted to excellence, Entergy Mississippi ranks as one of the top customer service organizations in the nation.

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Stuart C. Irby Company Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” In business, the answer is everything – a company’s reputation, legacy, and brand identity. ■ The Stuart C. Irby Company of Jackson, Mississippi, carries a name recognized throughout the South as an electrical distributor to the residential, commercial, industrial, and utility industries. Yet, as a division of one of the top five electrical distributors in the nation, Irby is now in the midst of sweeping changes designed to move the company’s name recognition even closer to the forefront. “We have always focused on value, customer relations, and the highest quality products at the lowest possible price,” says company president Michael C. Wigton. “Our customers tell us that we are doing a great job, but we believe we can improve. “We are rebranding ourselves to be recognized more for the services we offer than just product supply,” he adds. “We need to do what we have always done, only better, cheaper, more dependably, and error free.”

The Stuart C. Irby Company has established itself as one of the nation’s most recognized electrical distributors to residential, commercial, industrial, and utility industries.

Operational Excellence The Stuart C. Irby Company was established in 1926 just as electricity was being recognized as an energy source for the rural South. Electrical construction projects dominated the company’s early years, with Irby Construction Company organized as a separate operation in 1946. Today, the Stuart C. Irby Company operates 35 sales branches in Mis-sis-

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sippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and New York. Five of these branches are located in Mississippi. The company’s 2005 merger with Sonepar USA is part of Irby’s strategy to introduce its name in other markets. As a privately owned independent group with headquarters in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, Sonepar is a world leader in the distribution of electrical equipment primarily on the East Coast, Mid-West, and West Coast. Irby is also working hard to create new services for its impressive customer base. Meanwhile, utility customers – consisting of investor-owned utilities, rural electric cooperatives, and municipal power systems throughout the South – depend on Stuart C. Irby Company for a quick re-sponse time, especially during emergencies. As the nation’s third largest utility distributor, the company supplies more than 500 electric utilities, which, in turn, service more than 33 million electric meters – a full 24 percent of all the meters in the United States. Commercial customers include retail businesses, office buildings, and government facilities. Through its contractor customers, Stuart C. Irby Company supplies commercial construction projects of every size throughout the South. Industrial customers include a diverse mix of industrial automation markets, ranging from manufacturing and fabrication facilities to power plants. Irby has a 60-year history with one of the world’s leading automation products and provides unmatched expertise in the complex world of automation. A New Level of Service As Irby looks to the future, steps are being taken to enhance its already superior service backed by the industry’s most knowledgeable experts and

80 years of experience. The company’s high-tech specialists, knowledgeable sales people, and support staff bring 3,500 years of collective experience in the electrical products industry. The Stuart C. Irby Company is also furthering its commitment to the business principles embraced by the company’s founder – principles based not only on traditional business practices and civil law, but also upon the Bible. Irby supports several charitable causes, including Habitat for Humanity and United Way. Customers are also seeing a replacement of the company’s familiar green, uppercase IRBY logo seen throughout the South for years with a blue, lowercase logo accented by a yellow/orange lightening bolt. The new logo is being reinforced with a new slogan – I Am Irby – printed on posters and business cards to remind key audiences of the company’s new direction. “All aspects of our rebranding initiative are designed to send a message to our employees, vendors, and customers,” says Wigton. “Internally, it tells our folks that we are not the same old Irby. Externally, we are telling our vendors that we are no longer complacent – we want to lead. And we are telling our customers that we are here to stay – we have great relationships with our customers and we are working hard to provide them with a service level that far exceeds anything they have ever known.” ■


Merrill Lynch Merrill Lynch is bringing a new model of financial service to Mississippi – one that combines teamwork and value and extends from both the business practices in Merrill Lynch’s Global Private Client group to the firm’s efforts in the local community. ■ Once known as the firm that brought Wall Street to Main Street, Merrill Lynch is becoming the firm of choice for affluent households and business owners who value advice. Merrill Lynch strives to be different from other financial services companies by educating Mississippians on the value of disciplined planning with a focus on personalized client service. The company has a strong presence in Mississippi. It has four office locations, 75 Financial Advisors, and more than 110 employees overall. The firm’s Financial Advisors in the state manage $30 million in annual revenue and $4 billion in client assets and liabilities. Financial Strength, Commitment, and Dedication The key to the Firm’s sustained growth is its emphasis on integrated teamwork. Financial Advisors from Merrill Lynch bring a deeper and broader level of expertise to clients in addition to an elevated and more specialized level of service. This, coupled

insurance, banking, lending, and estate planning are just some of the other financial areas that should be considered when planning for the future. To deliver on this, Merrill Lynch financial advisors utilize a specialized wealth management process to develop a personal plan. From establishing objectives to setting strategy, implementing the solutions and then regularly reviewing progress, a financial advisor can help clients implement their own strategies for success. “We consider ourselves in the longterm relationship business, with understanding and managing each client’s unique needs as the cornerstone,” says Scott Steele, director for Merrill Lynch in Mississippi. “We look beyond the single dimension of investments and find powerful, innovative ways to integrate and optimize all the pieces of a

client’s financial life.” Most importantly, employees believe in The Merrill Lynch Principles – client focus, respect for the individual, teamwork, respon-sible citizenship, and integrity – that serve as the foundation for the company’s actions as leaders, colleagues, employees, and citizens. As the company grows evermore diverse and global, the Principles help them to define further who they are, what they believe, and what they aspire to be for themselves, clients, and stockholders. ■

The Metro Jackson office of Merrill Lynch recently relocated to 1022 Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland.

with the firm’s diverse portfolio of investment opportunities, makes Merrill Lynch one of the most attractive sources for comprehensive financial services in the area. Merrill Lynch has found that in years past stocks and bonds were enough to meet a client’s retirement planning needs; it’s different now. Clients increasingly need advice that looks beyond financial markets to help them achieve their goals. Mortgages,

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Tennessee Valley Authority President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal initiative establishing the Tennessee Valley Authority is as fresh and innovative today as when it was introduced in 1933. This federal corporation, which forever changed lives in the Tennessee Valley through its flood control, power production, and jobs creation programs, remains a key player in life in the Valley as it manages an integrated resource program to provide energy, economic development, and environmental stewardship for the TVA region.

As the nation’s largest public power provider, TVA serves nearly 400,000 homes and businesses in 36 Mississippi counties.

TVA is completely self-financing and receives no taxpayer dollars. As the nation’s largest public power provider, all of its activities are financed through the sale of electricity and bond issues. In partnership with local power distributors, TVA touches Mississippians and millions of others across the region by delivering affordable, reliable power to customers; cleaner air and water; progress through re-source development; leadership for a Valley economy that provides career opportunities; and operational excellence and financial strength. “TVA’s commitment to our mission of service to the Valley is unchanging,” says John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of economic development. “We remain dedicated to improving the quality of life for Tennessee Valley residents by supporting sustainable economic growth. As it has been for more than 70 years, the winners are the people, businesses, and communities of the Tennessee Valley.” Quality Per formance Today, TVA provides affordable, reliable electricity to 28 power distributors in Mississippi that serve 319,000 homes and 79,000 businesses and industries in 36 counties in the northern and central portions of the state. Retail rates in the Tennessee Valley are well below the national average, and power delivered through its transmis-

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sion lines has proven 99.999 percent reliable for the past six years. That performance is a tribute to operational excellence in fossil, nuclear, hydroelectric generation, bulk power trading, and transmission across the TVA system. In the years to come, the system expects to grow even stronger. Work is underway for a 2007 restart of the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant Unit 1 reactor – the nation’s first nuclear unit to go into service in the 21st century – and numerous interconnection projects will en-hance the already reliable service that customers enjoy. Meanwhile, TVA manages land and water resources in the Ten-nessee Valley to provide multiple benefits that include flood control, river transportation, power production, water quality, recreation, and land use. To demonstrate the potential of renewable energy sources, TVA’s Green Power Switch program produces solar power on the campuses of the University of Mississippi in Oxford and Mississippi State University in Starkville. A Better Life TVA’s economic development team continues to help communities realize their dreams while making life better for citizens of the Valley. TVA and economic development partners (including the North Mis-sissippi Industrial Development Association, Mississippi Development Authority, power distributors, and local communities) worked together to increase capital investments in order to attract and retain quality jobs in Mississippi. In 2005, more than $312 million in capital investments were leveraged and over 6,000 jobs were created or retained for state residents. TVA is enhancing its support of existing industries and communities

through an array of services that include economic development loan funds, community preparedness training, energy audits, and technical assistance that show how companies can conserve energy. Of significance is TVA’s impressive megasite certification program through which large industrial pro-perties in Columbus and Tupelo serve as readyto-build sites for automotive-related manufacturing or industries in Mississippi. By having certified megasites ready for industrial development as well as access to affordable, reliable power, the Tennessee Valley has a huge advantage in attracting more jobs to the area., a comprehensive Internet GIS-based site and building database, shows the two Mis-sissippi megasites, as well as available buildings and properties in the service area. The web site offers the capability to create specific geographic and demographic data to help businesses locate and grow in Mississippi. “TVA is ready for the future and is committed to a mission of service to the people, business, and communities in Mississippi,” says Bradley. “We will continue to foster growth and provide a better place to live, work, and play for Mississippi residents.” Visit to learn more about TVA and economic development. ■


Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company is the largest insurance provider headquartered in Mississippi and one of the largest financial institutions in the South with more than $9 billion in assets and in a ten state service area. For almost 60 years Southern Farm Bureau has been providing peace of mind to southern families while giving back to the communities they serve. Southern Farm Bureau, considered a leader in the life insurance industry, is known among competitors to set industry standards. “Our vision and integrity are two of the main reasons for our success,” J. Joseph Stroble, executive vice president and CEO, said. Strength and Personality Southern Farm Bureau’s home office now employs 632 people and has been located in Mississippi since 1946 when farm bureaus from Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mis-sissippi, and Texas came together to organize Southern Farm Bureau. Through excellent planning and dedicated leadership, Southern Farm Bureau has expanded greatly and continues to be a symbol of support, strength, consistency, and solid business practices for citizens in the service area which now includes: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. With the number of life insurance companies decreasing by 50 percent since 1989, Southern Farm Bureau has stayed strong and has now achieved an agency force of more than 4,000 located in communities across the South with $75 billion of life insurance in force. Southern Farm is consistently rated by A.M. Best to have an A+ superior rating for life insurance companies. In recent years, The New York Times ranked the company among the Top Ten Life Insurance Companies in the Nation in delivering projected policy illustrations. U.S. News and World Report named Southern Farm Bureau as one of the nation’s strongest life insurance companies. “We are extremely proud of our agent distribution system. To most people, we sell insurance. At a glance that may be true; however, we do much more,” said senior vice president of marketing, Gino Gianfrancesco.

“As a vital part of the largest farm organization in the country, our Farm Bureau agents are responsible for much more than selling insurance. Our agents are parents, grandparents, coaches, teachers, friends, church deacons, and leaders in our re-spective cities and towns. The reputation of Farm Bureau lives and breathes in each town by the involvement and actions of our agency force.” Giving Back to the Community “Southern Farm Bureau believes in putting something back into the community where we have enjoyed so much success,” Stroble said. Perhaps the largest opportunity for employees to volunteer is the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, Mississippi’s only PGA tournament. For seven years, Southern Farm Bureau has been the proud title sponsor of the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, a Century Club Charities event that has generated more than $3.2 million for charities across Mississippi. Southern Farm Bureau participates in many other charity events as well as the Adopt- A-School program and Junior

Achievement. Whether providing peace of mind for southern families or volunteering in the community, Southern Farm Bureau’s motto says it all – Helping You Is What We Do Best. ■

With 632 employees and $75 billion of life insurance in force Southern Farm Bureau Life Inusurance Company is rated by A.M. Best to have an A+ superior rating for life insurance companies.

As a vital part of the largest farm organization in the nation Southern Farm Bureau has provided peace of mind to families in the South for 60 years.

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Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi has a message for the state’s residents. Whether seen on billboards, television, or newspapers, the message is purposefully brief, so that it can be understood and remembered: be healthy. ■ “We’re committed to a healthier Mississippi, and we want to help people across the state be healthy,” said Richard J. Hale, president and Chief Executive Officer. “We are promoting a clear and encouraging message: be healthy, eat healthy, don’t smoke, and exercise.” Since 1947, when a group of visionary state and business leaders created Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, the home-grown company has championed healthcare and a better quality of life for all Mississippians. An Ounce of Prevention Today, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi is at the forefront of the most effective way to improve individuals’ healthcare and health costs – taking ownership of their own health through health and wellness activities. In January 2005, the company rolled out Healthy You!, a benefit that provides members with preventive health screenings appropriate for their age and gender from their network provider. “We want to help you to take care of yourself,” Hale said. “That’s easier when you have an established relationship with your healthcare provider. Healthy You! helps that hap-

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pen; it helps you visit your healthcare provider even when you feel well. That lets you catch health conditions before they be-come health problems. Prevention is good for everyone.” To help Mississippi with its ongoing battle against heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi promotes an innovative walking program called WalkingWorks®. The program encourages walking as a safe and effective way to achieve many health benefits. With an eye toward long-term improvements, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Founda-tion supports programs and initia-tives that instill healthy habits and lifestyles at any age. The Foundation is open to letters of inquiry from appropriate programs throughout the year. Walking the Walk The “be healthy” message is much more than a slogan. It’s literally in the air you breathe at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi headquarters in Jackson. The entire campus is tobacco-free. The company understands that personal health behaviors are the most im-portant factor underlying health consequences, and it helps employees make wise choices. Walk around the campus and you’ll likely see other people walk-ing, too. An outdoor walking track for employees runs beneath shade trees and around a pond; and treadmills allow walking indoors. There are before and after work walking and exercise classes, too. At lunch or break, employees have easy access to tasty, healthy food at the company’s Blues Café. Through the company’s “Color Me Healthy” disease management program, many employees have made progress controlling their diabetes. With the aid of comprehensive worksite education and support services,

employees have found ways to take control of their disease through lifestyle changes. Employee health fairs at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi involve all employees. Quarterly employee presentations on health-related topics help reinforce the im-portance of healthy living. It all adds up to a culture of health. “We’re committed to improving health and wellness,” Hale said, “and we’re going to lead by example.” A Culture of Service A complete culture of health in-cludes encouraging and supporting community service. The company is responsible for spearheading the construction of the 18,000-square-foot Kid Zone Playground at scenic LeFleur’s Bluff State Park in Jackson. It is also a strong supporter of the arts, sponsoring the Mississippi Opera, the Mississippi Symphony, the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Arts Alliance of Jackson and Hinds County, and the performing arts series at Thalia Mara Hall. The company also supports the American Red Cross, the Mis-sissippi Children’s Home Society, the Mississippi Make-A-Wish Foun-dation, Mississippi Center for Non-Profits, and a host of others. Equally impressive is the commitment of individual employees to helping make Mississippi a healthier, better place to live. Em-ployees frequently participate in charity walks and fundraisers and are active with other community causes, including Habitat for Humanity, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The employees are so committed to a healthy Mississippi that they held raffles and other fundraisers for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life 2005. The result: an astonishing $37,000 raised in addi-

Proud toCall Mississippi Home tion to corporate donations. The company’s primary focus is on serving its customers. Decades of experience ensure the company stays on top of its core business – helping people receive and pay for the healthcare services they need. Whether it is through local individual and group health coverage, servicing large local and national accounts or administration of government health programs, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi is taking care of more Mississippians than any other health insurance company. Part of that care includes its custom, comprehensive and innovative health and wellness programs that help employees be involved in their overall wellness, decreasing their need for healthcare and their healthcare costs. This expertise includes being a leader in web-based tools that help people manage their healthcare. At their website,, you can not only get the day’s top health news, but you can also apply for health insurance and make your first month’s payment online. Employers have a whole host of web-based tools that help them stay on top of their health benefits. Healthcare providers can check patients’ benefits and even receive payment electronically. All of these tools are designed for the single purpose of helping customers by working more efficiently and cost-effectively.

All told, the positive impact of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mis-sissippi and its employees could hardly be overstated. From its health & wellness programs to the healthy culture for employees and the community, the company is clearly focused on achieving what is the best healthcare solution for the entire state: be healthy. ■

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F. L. Crane & Sons, Inc. F. L. Crane and Sons has been providing leadership with integrity, dependable service, and reliable products for almost sixty years while developing into one of the nation’s top twenty finishing contractors. The company is also ranked in the upper third of the top specialty contractors. F. L. Crane maintains eleven offices throughout Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, and Florida. Fulton, Mississippi, where the company first put down roots, is home to the company’s headquarters. A Solid Foundation Floy Lee Crane founded the company in 1947, which today still bears his name. America was still reeling from a hard-fought victory in World War II, and Americans were eager to get back to work, to build bright futures for themselves and for their families. This spirit of commitment to hard work and to excellence still drives the company to this day. Overseeing projects through proper management and providing clients with reliable, dependable service in a timely manner are essential tenets upon which F. L. Crane has relied in order to build a satisfied customer base. The com-pany offers a wide variety of services to the construction industry including interior and exterior finishing, metal studs and drywall, acoustical ceilings, lath/plaster/stucco, resilient flooring, carpet, ceramic, paint and faux finishes, and fireproofing. Exceptional Leadership The third generation of the Crane family now guides the company forward in this twenty-first century under

Committed to upholding standards of excellence established in 1947, the leadership team of F. L. Crane & Sons, Inc., includes (l to r) Mike Heering, Regional Vice President; Jimmie Crane, Chief Financial Officer; Chip Crane, President; Johnny Crane, Chief Executive Officer; and Kevin Payne, Executive Vice President.

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the able direction of company president, Chip Crane. Crane’s father, Johnny, and uncle, Jimmie, serve as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer respectively. Crane believes, “Leaders take bad situations and create from them new opportunities.” The decade of the nineties witnessed great growth for the company as F. L. Crane doubled its corporate sales and was on the ground floor in the construction of casinos as the landbased gaming industry got underway in Mississippi. Pride of Ownership Securing their futures and staking their claims on an impressive in-dustry record, the nearly 900 highly skilled master craftsmen and women of F. L. Crane became employees turned employers in 2003 as participants in a bold Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The ESOP provides, “Partners with a means to see their hard work and extra effort pay off,” shares Crane. Confident of their reputation as one of the most trusted names in the contracting industry, F. L. Crane has also

established partnerships with other associate contractors in the Southeast such as JESCO, Inc., Carothers Construction, W. G. Yates and Sons, Benchmark Construction, White Construction, and Roy Collins Construction. Projects in which F. L. Crane has partnered include churches, schools, financial institutions, shopping centers, casinos, correctional facilities, and hotels. A new subsidiary founded in 2002 – Laurence/Crane Theming & Designs Concepts, LLC – has afforded many new opportunities. Crane explains, “Theming and Design enables us to bid different packages and channel more phases of work – from floors to finish paint – into our scope of expertise.” With a proven record of service built on timeless ideals, F. L. Crane is an industry leader. ■


Mississippi Manufacturers Association Founded in 1951, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA) has been the united voice for the manufacturing community for 55 years. The association’s founders thought the state legislature was too focused on agriculture and that the manufacturing industry needed a voice to state the needs of the manufacturing industry. One year later, MMA’s membership had grown to 90 manufacturers within the state. Today, membership exceeds 2,200. ■ Throughout more than five decades, MMA has held true to its mission of being the voice of the industry. The association’s mission statement states, “It is our mission to provide high quality goods and services to our members and to identify, disseminate, and utilize information necessary to promote a strong manufacturing environment within Mississippi.” Successes in Legislature Although MMA helped with the successful passage of many laws, two of the most recent are the Unemployment and Workforce Training Bill – which utilizes the monies in the unemployment trust to go toward teaching skills and trades – and Momentum Missis-sippi, an initiative designed to offer tax and other incentives to make Mississippi a more appealing state for manufacturing facilities. Along with fighting the trend for moving manufacturing overseas, Momentum Mississippi also allows the possibility to offer current manufacturers within the state incentives to grow their operations. MMA president and CEO Jay C. Moon called Momentum Mississippi’s tax credits, low-interest loans, and grant programs, “One of the most important legislative programs we have addressed to support the growth of our state’s economy. It will move us in a direction to com-pete not only with other states, but other countries as well.”

dedicated to be on top of several issues that are of interest to manufacturers. With one phone call or e-mail, members can have up-to-date information on almost anything that may be affecting them. MMA staff are dedicated to issues concerning the environment and OSHA, workforce development, taxation, energy and transportation costs, and government relations. MMA also has staff members who are well versed on labor issues and can answer questions relevant to employee relations. MMA offers its members quality workers compensation and health care programs. The MMA Group Insurance Trust offers health, life, and disability insurance for members and their employees, and the MMA Workers Comp Group is a self-insured division of the association that provides affordable workers compensation insurance for its members. All insurance policies are sold through independent insurance representatives. Growing the Alliance Moon says MMA intends to keep growing by doing what they have been doing for the past 55 years. He explained, “We will keep speaking for

manufacturers and will keep their interests in the focus of our state and national governments. By growing manufacturing in Mississippi, we are creating jobs and strengthening the economy. What’s good for our members is good for the state. If we’re growing, the state is growing – and that is good for everyone.” ■

The Mississippi Manufacturers Association has been the united voice for the industry for more than half a century. The association promotes industry and, in doing so, creates jobs and increases the state's economy.

Information is Power Along with an effective state and federal legislative program, MMA provides its members with a plethora of information in areas pertinent to manufacturing. MMA produces monthly newsletters and offers seminars and workshops on issues that may affect the manufacturing industry. MMA is

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YATES Construction Since hammering its first nail as a small corporation in 1963, W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company has grown into one of the nation’s leading providers of construction services. With a strong presence in Mississippi, YATES and its affiliates currently have more than 20 offices located throughout the Southeast and a host of satisfied clients. ■ Founded and headquartered in Philadelphia, Mississippi, YATES has delivered its construction from the start by following its motto: on time, within budget and to your satisfaction. Ranked in the top echelon of national contractors by Engineering News Record, YATES has more than 8,000 em-ployees and annual revenues of over $1.8 billion. The YATES family of companies has branched out to provide its clients with quality construction services in 44 states and several foreign countries. “We try to develop relationships with our clients and provide them with a job well done,” says William G. Yates III, a third-generation president for YATES Construction. “Basically, we

YATES Construction, which stands as one of the nation’s leading providers of construction services, has an impressive portfolio that includes the Inn on Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina, and the Nissan North America Automotive Manufacturing Facility in Canton, Mississippi.

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measure our success one satisfied customer at a time.” The client base built by YATES reflects the firm’s success in providing quality services that fulfill its slogan. The company’s mark can be found in a variety of areas including construction management, commercial and government facilities, hospitality and leisure development, healthcare, heavy industrial manufacturing, education, and retail. One of the company’s strong suits is its unique ability to self-perform work, assuring production control and

on-time completion of projects. This includes electrical, mechanical, concrete, steel fabrication, drywall, site work, carpentry, and exterior finishes. Additionally, technology has become an integral part of dayto-day project work. “Technology has streamlined communication and management of projects,” says Yates. He adds that current communications technology is also a must-have in today’s market. “Clients are asking for technologyready facilities – complete with connections to the web and video conferencing capabilities.” Helping Build Mississippi As a proven leader in the construc-tion industry, YATES has played a significant role in Mississippi’s growth through a diverse group of projects that are visible throughout the state. Recent accomplishments are the state’s first automobile man-ufacturing plant for Nissan North America near Canton, Trustmark Park – Mississippi Braves Stadium in Pearl, and the impressive Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World located nearby. Other projects managed by YATES across the state include the United States District Courts Building in Jackson, Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Hederman Brothers in Ridgeland, and Entergy Opera-tions Conference Center in Jackson. The company is continuing its strong focus on K-12 and higher education projects completing many facilities throughout Mississippi in recent years. Higher education projects in the state include work at the University of Mississippi, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, University of Southern Mississippi, Belhaven College, Millsaps College, and the University Medical Center. YATES is an accomplished pro-

Proud toCall Mississippi Home vider of healthcare construction services, having completed projects at many major healthcare facilities across the state and region. National Presence On the national front, YATES has been just as successful. The company has received numerous Asso-ciated Builders and Contractors Merit Awards for its work on a bevy of projects across the country. Of significance is YATES’ work on the Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey; CSG Barracks Complex in Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Klaus Advanced Computing at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia; Portofino Resort & Spa in Pensacola Beach, Florida; The Beach Club in Fort Morgan, Alabama; General Services Administration Field Office in Houston, Texas; Inn on Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina; and the Little Rock Physical Fitness Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Consistently ranked in Engi-neering News Record’s Top 400 contractors, YATES stands out as a leader in the construction or development of entertainment facilities, auto plants, highways, multi-unit residential buildings, retail operations, hotels/motels and convention centers, pulp and paper mills, and co-generation. YATES has a strong commitment to safety from the top down. Its successful safety program is evidenced by its Experience Modification and Incidence Rates, which score among the best in the industry. And the company is consistently recognized nationally by the Business Roundtable and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Association for its excellent safety record. YATES recently re-ceived ABC’s top national award for excellence in safety among general contractors with over two million man-hours. Community Focus YATES takes pride in its community involvement and commitment to economic development. In ad-dition to memberships in all of the major professional trade associations and

numerous chambers of commerce, the company’s em-ployees are leaders in an array of community organizations. YATES personnel have served in leadership and support roles for Boy and Girl Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity, Diabetes Foundation, Cancer League, Toys for Tots, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Kidney and Heart foundations, and many others. Much of YATES’ efforts are now focused on helping rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The company is committed to going the distance with affected residents and business owners until the area is restored to its former character. “We are proud of what we have established and are continuing in Mississippi,” says Yates. “We feel confident that our goals are directly in line with making our community and state a better place to live and work.” ■

Recent accomplishments of YATES Construction include Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey; Walter Payton Health and Wellness Center at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi; and Trustmark Park – Mississippi Braves Stadium in Pearl, Mississippi.

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Sta-home Health Agency Sta-home Health Agency – the need for compassionate care at home – a vision realized. It began with compassion – a nurse with enormous empathy for her patients; a nurse who realized a pressing need in Mississippi for health services at home; a nurse and her husband who put fears aside to take an entrepreneurial leap of faith to meet those needs. It was the 1970s… Joyce Caracci, RN, practiced her profession first in hospitals, then nursing homes, then as a surveyor for the State Board of Health. An individual’s contribution in the nursing field is extremely important, yet Joyce’s compassion for elderly patients could not be contained in one nursing career. She, along with her husband Vic, began to dream, to envision something larger. In the 1970s, health care services provided in the home were uncom- mon. Yet, Joyce and Vic saw the need, the substantial gap in care for elderly and sick Mississippians recovering from surgeries or struggling to manage their

Vic and Joyce Caracci — Founders of Sta-home Health Agency.

lives with diseases and disabilities. The gap represented untold numbers of those who could remain at home with proper care instead of being institutionalized. Her day-to-day nursing and surveying work formed a clear vision: help people at home. No health provider was addressing this need adequately. Donated Office Space and a Card Table

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In 1976, Vic and Joyce Caracci, now affectionately referred to by their employees as “Papa and Mrs. C.,” decided to address this need. They took out a $5,000 loan, moved into donated office space, and unfolded the legs of a card table that would serve as their desk. Together they opened Sta-home Health Agency. From that humble beginning, the Caraccis were focused and committed to provide personal, life changing, life-enabling services to elderly homebound residents. Their heart for serving others is the best Mississippi has to offer. Serving Mississippians… Down the Back Roads and Dirt Roads Thirty years later, as the second generation of Caraccis transitions into the leadership of Sta-home, Vic and Joyce remain actively involved in its operations. Their son, Michael, is the Chief Executive Officer. The eldest son, Vincent, is the Legal Counsel. Their daughter, Christina, and daughter-inlaw, Denise, work for Sta-home Hospice. Sta-home Health is the state’s largest home health agency and has grown over its 30-year existence, serving a 46-county area from 34 branch offices in the state. “We serve Mississippians, not just in urban areas, but those who live down the back roads and dirt roads of our most rural areas,” said Vic Caracci. “This is Mississippi – this is our home and these are our neighbors,” he said. Sta-home Employees – People of Character and Compassion Sta-home employs more than 800 Mississippians who take on the challenge of providing home health services, often under difficult circumstances. Why do they do it? In a nutshell, these

are people of character who share Joyce and Vic’s vision of the importance of being able to live at home. They are Mississippians caring for Mississippians. “Each Sta-home employee receives tremendous satisfaction knowing the elderly and sick of our state are being cared for,” said Michael Caracci. “Our employees understand that the older generation is responsible for what we have. Their sacrifices have ensured our freedom and opportunities,” he said. It is not uncommon to find Sta-home employees donating their own time doing literally thousands of little things that allow patients to remain in their own homes, such as bringing a hot meal to a bedbound patient, or building a ramp for a wheel chair-bound patient. The stated mission of Sta-home is, “To provide high quality home health care services in a safe, cost effective manner to patients at home, optimizing their comfort and dignity,” said Michael Caracci. A Model for Success Providing Homecare Excellence in care and compassionate service drive Sta-home’s employees and leaders. It is also the model for their business. The company’s annual budget exceeds $50 million, rendering care to more than 10,000 Mississippi homebound patients. “We have become very large and successful, I believe,” said Joyce. “Our focus on compassionate service is the key reason, but Mississippi’s need for such services is overwhelming, as our great state has fully embraced this concept. We’ve had wonderful support from physicians, employees, the medical community, and the citizens of Mississippi over the past 30 years,” she said. Stahome Health serves Mississippians at home with services such as skilled nursing, personal aide care, physical and

Proud toCall Mississippi Home occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, and a host of educational and support services. “Regrettably, Mississippi is a state that has a very high occurrence of diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer,” said Joyce. “Fortunately these diseases are treatable in the home,” she said. “Excellence in care” is Stahome’s motto, and it’s more than mere words. In 1993, Sta-home was the first freestanding home health agency in Mississippi to receive accreditation from the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. The skill sets represented by Sta-home staff are extraordinary, with staff nurses certified in oncology, ger-ontology, enterostomal therapy, and a host of other specialties. Sta-home has the largest therapy department in the state. “Our staff includes some of the most knowledgeable and well educated professionals in the United States,” said Michael. Joyce and Michael have served on the board of directors of many local and national home care associations. Currently Michael serves as the vice-president for the Mississippi Association for Home Care and is on the Board of Directors of the American Association for Homecare. Compassionate Vision – The Home Health Provider of Choice Although the Caraccis are pioneers in the field and retain a leading market share in Mississippi, there’s no such thing as complacency in the home health industry. Due to the evolution of medical technology through the past three decades, there is an ongoing commitment to education at Stahome. There are educational programs offered to the employees that enable all visiting personnel to constantly improve their skills practiced in the urban and rural areas of the state. Sta-home is committed to remaining the home health provider and employer of choice in Mississippi. What began as a quest to insure quality medical care in the home for

Mississippians has turned into a dream for the founders. A compassionate vision is the foundation upon which Sta-home Health Agency is built. As the Caracci family and staff work tirelessly to honor and build upon this foundation, the great people of Mississippi continue to receive world-class health care services – at home. ■

Patients getting care and love from the staff of Sta-home Health Agency.

Southaven Employees help with Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief.

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Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum Jackson’s Lakeland Drive . . . thousands of automobiles and trucks, congested traffic, honking horns, screeching brakes, and sometimes frenzied efforts to get to work on time or home to relax. Yet, just yards off this busy thoroughfare, near the I-55 intersection, is a reminder of less hectic days, a tribute to the past . . . the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum. ■ Entering the 39-acre museum, there is a feeling of turning back the hands of time, of escaping from the pressures of today. The museum includes a 1920s crossroads town and working farm with realistic exhibits telling the story of Missis-sippi’s farmers and lumberjacks. “Some people say it is part of our lives we want to forget, but we should never be ashamed of our forbearers,” says museum sales and marketing director Sandy Ellis. “We are part of their lives and their environment. That should make us proud.” A Realistic Touch Organizers wanted the museum to be as “real and alive” as possible, and with just a little imagination, a visitor can relive the days depicted. Attention to specific exhibits in the Heritage Center is directed by creative track lighting, electronically triggered sounds and lifelike

▲ © Jimmy Hutto The Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum provides visitors with a "real and alive" view of days gone by.

▼ © Jimmy Hutto

▼ © Brian Hull

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for testing new hybrids.

human figures that, in some cases, actually move. Floor-to-ceiling panels and photographs also contribute to the “real” atmosphere. Leaving the main building and approaching the farmstead, the museum comes alive. Chickens walking about quickly indicate the realism of a working farm during the 1920s. The FortenberryParkman farm, moved from its original site in southern Mississippi, has been reconstructed just as the owners built it in the 1800s. Small Town – with its filling station, grist mill, doctor’s office with adjacent herb garden, schoolhouse, jail, and general store – reflects the same time frame. Both the print and blacksmith shops provide regular live demonstrations that add to the authenticity. Other points of interest are the children’s barnyard, veterinary infirmary, and nature trail. The cane mill and cotton gin operate in the fall – after cane is cut and cotton is picked. The Fitzgerald collection is a truly unique display that includes 17,500 Native Amer-ican artifacts and a variety of guns and other unusual items. The museum also contains an acclaimed rose garden – used by the All-American Rose Selection

Special Opportunities The Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum works closely with the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote the city as a tourist destination, and in return the CVB helps with advertising through grants. The museum experience is especially rewarding during any one of the annual festivals, including a Fourth of July celebration, Halloween Carnival, and Harvest Festival. Banquet facilities such as the Forestry Auditorium and the Ethnic Heritage Building, can be rented for a variety of occasions such as birthday parties, reunions, or receptions that follow weddings held in the chapel or rose garden. The museum is a regular destination for school classes from kindergarten up. Learning materials are available, including a teacher’s manual that highlights the nature trail’s 32-labeled trees and a K-4 student activity book that features museum mascots – 40-year-old mules, Kate and Ada – who tell the story of agriculture to children. “To step back from the pressures of today’s fast-paced life helps us appreciate something we often take for granted – today’s conveniences such as air conditioning, fast transportation, and freedom from the long hours of ‘back-breaking’ toil once necessary to earn a living and maintain a household,” says Ellis. “We can treasure the past and be thankful for what we have today.” ■


National Agricultural Aviation Museum

In 1980, the National Agricultural Aviation Association, based in Washington, D.C., voted unanimously to locate its new museum in the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum. Today, the special section, which traces crop dusting from early biplanes to the aircraft of modern times, is a favorite of visitors from around the world. ■ Covering more than 5,000 square feet, the National Agricultural Aviation Museum’s floorspace and airspace provides a comprehensive and fascinating look at an industry that literally reshaped the history of agriculture. On display are actual planes that once flew over southern farms and plantations complemented by an informative video and a series of colorful photographs and panels. Also on display are photos of the 13 members of the National Agricultural Aviation Hall of Fame. Three Mississippians are members – Jesse Orval Cockery, who established one of the nation’s first commercial firms for agricultural aviation in Clarksdale in 1933, and brothers Aubrey and Jimmy Finklee, who founded and operated Finklee Brothers Dusting Service of Leland during the 1920s. “Our state cannot take credit for the first use of airplanes in agriculture,” says museum sales and marketing director Sandy Ellis. “But when the cotton farmer adopted them as a good means of controlling boll weevils, the industry began.” The History Back in 1921, aviation was in its infancy and centered primarily on the military. While it had played an integral part in World War I, it was largely a novelty to civilians. On August 31 of

that year, Lt. John A. Macready bolted a crude metal hopper to the fueslage of a Curtiss JN-6H (Jenny) aircraft and took off from an airfield near Dayton, Ohio. He headed to a grove infested with the Catalpa sphinx moth and – as a crowd of spectators cheered – delivered the first load in the history of crop dusting. A year later, in Tullulah, Louisiana, Delta Laboratory became the center for the design, construction, and testing of airborne dusting equipment. Hundreds of test flights, dust-ing on both sides of the Mississippi River, were made in hope that such action would thwart the boll weevil. The Aircraft A favorite of museum visitors is the Stearman A75 two-seat biplane which served as the cornerstone of the new industry. Built primarily by Boeing for the Army Air Service during World War II, the aircraft was easily adapted to accommodate dusting and spraying equipment. With a 36-foot wingspan, the duster is equipped with a 450 HP Pratt & Whitney engine and a combination wet-dry dispersal system. Suspended from the museum’s ceiling is the Piper J3 built in 1946 and used initially as a flight school trainer.

In 1957, the plane was converted into a “cut-back duster.” Its small size allowed it to fly from farm turnrows and strips that could not handle larger aircraft. Featured nearby are two products from the Lone Star state. The Piper Pawnee used in the Texas Panhandle boasts a history of 4,600 hours of aerial application. Meanwhile, the Ag-Cat Serial X-I, on loan from the Texas Depart-ment of Agriculture, was the first of several craft manufactured by Grumnan solely to meet agricultural demands. Prior to its introduction in the late 1950s, crop dusting planes had to be converted for agricultural use. “Mississippi is extremely fortunate to have the National Agricul-tural Aviation Museum,” says Ellis. “Many of our guests tell us that until they visited, they had no idea of aviation’s impact on the development of agriculture. The story is quite fascinating.” ■

The National Agricultural Aviation Museum (NAAM), offers a comprehensive and fascinating look at the history of an industry that most Mississippians have always taken for granted.

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Neel-Schaffer, Inc. Engineering Better Places To Live: On the surface, what Neel-Schaffer, Inc., does is pretty obvious. They develop and design infrastructure projects, highways, bridges, buildings, water treatment plants, transportation planning, and much more. But a closer look at the Jackson-based business reveals that to founders, Hibbett Neel and Gorman Schaffer, their business is more than blueprints and schematics. It’s about building and strengthening communities in Mississippi and throughout the southern United States. “The whole premise is to serve municipalities and to give back to the communities where we live,” Neel says. “Hopefully this will help make these communities better places in which to live.” Neel moved to Mississippi in 1974 and launched his engineering business working with city and county governments to determine their needs, a practice that hasn’t stopped. “We took the jobs no one else wanted to take,” he says. “We saw a need in these communities. We still do that, and that’s why we’ve grown.”

The US Highway 90 High Rise Bridge in Jackson County earned the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Grand Award for Design Excellence in Mississippi for 2004.

Outstanding Team = Success When Neel and Schaffer joined forces in 1983, they built on that idea and today, Neel-Schaffer is a multi-disciplined engineering and planning firm with satellite offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee. “When we started, I wouldn’t have imagined we’d have more than 300 people with offices throughout the South,” Schaffer says. “But the main thing we’ve done to be successful is hire outstanding people. Our business is a people business and we’ve surrounded ourselves with outstanding talent.”

▲© Lyle Peterzell

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As one of the South’s largest privately held engineering firms, the company provides engineering, landscape architecture, surveying, strategic planning, and community development services to its clients and recently added an environmental sciences division and a forensic engineering service to the mix. High Profile Projects Yet it’s the local touch that gives them an edge. There are eight offices across Mississippi (Biloxi, Southaven, Hattiesburg, Columbus, Madison, Jackson, Laurel, and McComb) that cater to local governments right where they are. Among their signature projects are: The Pascagoula River High Rise Bridge; a six-lane thoroughfare that can accommodate maritime traffic simultaneously with up to 56,000 land vehicles per day; the Nissan Plant Interchange on I-55, which handles heavy traffic at the automaker’s Jackson-area plant; and the completion of the Natchez Trace Parkway, which follows the historic Indian Trail and has been under construction since 1937. The company also engineered the award-winning and environmentally friendly project that delivers treated effluent from the Columbus (Mississippi) Wastewater Treatment Plant to a local power generating facility for use as cooling water.

“About 80 percent of the wastewater is eliminated from our environment by being converted to steam,” says Fred Hayslett of the Columbus Light and Water Depart-ment. “NeelSchaffer took an excellent idea and made it work.” Championing Diversity Neel-Schaffer is committed to developing diversity in the engineering field. After discovering the alarming lack of minority engineers in private practice, Neel established a scholarship for disadvantaged minority civil engineering students at Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi, Jackson State University, and Tennessee State University. To date, Neel-Schaffer has contributed more than $100,000 in scholarships to aspiring minority engineers. About 20 recipients have graduated, four of whom now work for Neel-Schaffer. Neel’s efforts have earned him a 2004 national Diversity Champion Award from the Ameri-can Society of Civil Engineers. For the future, the company is gearing up for its potential role in the construction of the new I-69 corridor, developing its geo-technical engineering group and anticipating a possible foray into real estate development and construction. The focus, as always, is to serve communities and the people who live in them. “We’re still looking for ways to improve the quality of life in our communities,” Neel says. “That’s what’s important.” ■


us on the Regions team in Mississippi can achieve both through superior customer service and outstanding community involvement.” I S TAT E W...

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