Page 1

INSIDE — White House hotel making comeback in Biloxi

February 28, 2014 • Vol. 36, No. 9 • $1 • 28 pages

Sullivan receives award Rani Warsi Sullivan, a Mississippi State University associate professor of aerospace engineering, has been named the 2014 Diversity Educator of the Year by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.

More newsmakers, P 21

Taxes {P 20} » Equifax seeks U.S. Supreme Court review of tax ruling by state’s high court Education {P 11} » USM report spotlights role of school boards, superintendents

PAT THOMASSON CEO, Thomasson Company

» Page 14

Inside business {P 10}

» District at Eastover takes shape with financing in place, tenant signings underway.


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February 28 2014


Mississippi Business Journal



Jackson mayor dead at 66; special election to be set in 30 days Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba died unexpectedly Tuesday at age 66. No cause of death has been released. However, in an Associated Press story, it was reported he joked about having had a cold on Monday. Lumumba had been reported to have been suffering from an illness upon taking office and had been treated for cancer many years ago. However, Lumumba had stated many times he had made a full recovery from the cancer. City Council president Charles Tillman has been sworn in as acting mayor. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba took office on July 1, 2013, after beating incumbent Harvey Johnson in a runoff. In 2009 Lumumba, a Detroit native and Jackson lawyer and civic activist, won election to Jackson’s Ward Two City Council seat. Lumumba earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Mich. He later graduated cum laude from Wayne State University Law School. Lumumba is the second Jackson mayor to die in office in recent years. Frank Melton died in May 2009, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba died unexpectjust two days after Johnson defeated his reelection edly on Tuesday at the age of 66. bid. Reacting to the Lumumba’s death, Gov. Phil Bryant said: “Deborah and I are shocked and saddened by the news of Mayor Lumumba’s passing and are praying for his loved ones. Just a short time ago, I — U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democrat, 2nd District had the opportunity to SPECIAL ELECTION join the mayor in a church pew as we welcomed a new development to the city. His enthusiasm for Jackson's City Council now has 30 days to set an Jackson will be deeply missed.� election date. U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democrat, 2nd “They have to pick a date that is not less than 30 District, said: days or more than 45 days from the order,� Secretary "I am deeply saddened by the death of my friend, of State Delbert Hosemann said. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. I have known Mayor The election, run by the city, will be general and Lumumba since 1974. One of the reasons I was so public nonpartisan — no party registration. about my support for the mayor was that I believed “To win the election, someone has to get a once people got to know the real Chokwe Lumumba majority of the votes cast to be elected,� Hosemann they would find him to be an extremely bright, caring said. “If no one does, then the top two will be in a and humble individual. His election as mayor and very runoff in two weeks, a little different from statewide, short term in office demonstrated exactly that. This which are three weeks later.� evening the city of Jackson truly suffered a great loss. I As of press time, there were no candidates who would like to extend my condolences to the Lumumba had come forward to potentially run for the office. family and the city of Jackson." However, it wouldn’t be far off base to believe Lumumba was the father of three children, Johnson could be approached to run as well as Kambon Mutope, Rukia Kai and Chokwe Antar, and businessman Jonathan Lee, whom Lumumba he had one grandchild, Qadir Lumumba-Benjamin. defeated in the general election.

“One of the reasons I was so public about my support for the mayor was that I believed once people got to know the real Chokwe Lumumba they would find him to be an extremely bright, caring and humble individual. His election as mayor and very short term in office demonstrated exactly that.�










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4 I Mississippi Business Journal I February 28 2014 GAMING


The Voice of Silver Slipper By LISA MONTI I CONTRIBUTOR

John Ferrucci keeps a high profile as the general manager of Silver Slipper Casino on the beach in Hancock County, but he’s probably better known for his Jerseytinged voice in the casino’s radio and TV commercials. The ad’s catchy jingle to “Come on down to the Silver Slipper. Pass a good time at the Silver Slipper,” was written by longtime Coast musician Brooks Hubbert. “It’s become very recognizable,” said Ferrucci who uses only his first name in the ads. “When you see little kids walking around whistling your jingle and people talking about it, you know you're having some impact.” When listeners in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi hear the first notes of Hubbert’s jingle, they know John’s about to tell them about the casino’s new promotions. “That’s the way it’s gone for over seven years and we don’t see any reason to change it. It’s been a very effective tool for us,” Ferrucci said. When people meet him the first time, he said, “They say you must be the guy on the radio. That tells me they’re listening.” The former CEO of Silver Slipper Gaming, Paul Alanis, borrowed the voiceover idea from his former partner, Jack Binion, who was the voice of Binion’s Horseshoe Gaming in Las Vegas. “People got to know Jack personally and it personalized their message,” Ferrucci said. “So, Paul looked at me and said, ‘We want you to be the Jack Binion of the Gulf Coast.’” So when it came time to get their message out, Silver Slipper didn't turn to the usual marketing tools. “Everybody does mail and that sort of thing, but radio was really one opportunity I saw that I could literally talk to people even though they weren't sitting there in front of me.” Ferrucci likes the spots because they’re more personal. “It was very important for us to personalize our approach to our market and our customers and our community. We took that approach from the very beginning: The message would be almost one-on-one. And I just wasn't shouting stuff with loud music and beating them over the head with our message.” Ferrucci writes all the spots and records them sitting at his desk and using a small digital recorder.“The marketing team gives me bullet points for the new promotions. I write them and time them and get them to where they make sense.” If he’s lucky, he gets it recorded on the first try, but most of the time it takes two or

Gardeners wait and see what winter left behind By LISA MONTI I CONTRIBUTOR

Special to the Mississippi Business Journal

John Ferrucci’s voice has become a major promotional tool for the Silver Slipper Casino in Hancock County. He also writes all of the spots and records them at his desk.

three tries. “I'll sit right here and rattle it off and if it sounds OK to me then I just download it and send it to our ad agency.” A radio station mixes the music with the words and Ferrucci listens one more time before the spots are aired. At any given time there are three or four commercials in a rotation and they change quarterly with the promotions. “We want to make sure they’re not getting bombarded with the same messages and it gets boring,” he said. Ferrucci has stage experience that helps him with the voiceovers. In his “previous life” as a teacher in New Jersey, he played in a band and did most of the singing. “We would teach in the day and play weddings on weekends. It supplemented

our income.” Ferrucci said doing the commercials isn’t an effort for him. “Actually it’s an enjoyable part of my job,” he said. And there’s proof that the ads are working. “I have to be careful what I say because everybody knows it’s me,” he said. Ferrucci was recently riding in a crowded Superdome elevator during a Saints game when a passenger, a large man, told the elevator operator he wanted to go to the first floor. “I jokingly said, ‘Take this man wherever he wants to go,’ and he looked over at me and said, ‘Silver Slipper Casino.’ It was the quickest recognition I’ve ever had. We all cracked up.”

Nothing unleashes a gardener’s urge to replenish a garden or refill flower beds and pots than the earliest sign of springtime. And after this winter’s unusual string of ice, sleet and snow across the state, it might be tempting to rush those shopping trips to nurseries and garden centers to commence the season. But for the next few weeks, cautious gardeners are waiting to see what plants, trees and shrubs made it through the winter and what didn’t. Under those pitiful brown leaves might be some signs of life, experts say. Dr. Lelia Kelly of the MSU Extension Service is special advisor to the Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association. She said that as bad as winter-beaten plants and trees may look now, don’t panic. “I caution people about doing anything on suspected cold damaged plants until the spring growth starts,” she said. Plants can be very resilient and tough, she said. “You may think something’s dead but it may bud out in the spring.” At Pine Hills Nursery in Pass Christian Polly Cuevas, an MNLA board member, already had customers by mid February asking about replacements for their delicate trees. “We are seeing some interest already, for instance, with citrus trees which See


Highland Village Blog: An interview with Glenn McGehee of McGehee Cruise & Vacation, Inc.

Left to Right: Carol Ann McGehee, Glenn McGehee, Worlds Finest Chocolate Owner Eddie Opler, Sarah Opler

by Laurel Donahoo: Highland Village blog 2/18/14

Today we’re getting to know Glenn McGehee, owner of McGehee cruise & Vacation, just a little bit better. We loved catching up and learning a little bit more about him, his love for travel, and why he decided to make it into a business. Let’s get on with a little Q&A, shall we?

book a trip with us. The price is the same if you book direct, or with us, and sometimes we have better prices or amenities. It pays to check with us before you purchase your next cruise or vacation package. And, it’s better to work with us locally because we are here to help you.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I was born in Jackson and lived here all my life. My wife Carol Ann and I met while in the Junior Symphony and we were married after college. We have four children - Jennifer, Julie, Jessica, and Allen. We love to travel together as a family and we are all musicians.

How has McGehee Cruise & Vacation grown over the years? Originally, we started out serving individuals, couples and families. Over the last 40 years we have added to that base of customers by expanding into handling and managing all types of group events - wedding groups, family groups, friends groups, performing groups, corporate meetings, conventions, company incentives, and continuing education groups.

When was McGehee Cruise & Vacation founded? Our travel agency has been in Highland Village since 1969. We changed the name to McGehee Cruise & Vacation to better represent new trends in travel. I started McGehee Cruise & Vacation in May of 1975 almost 40 years ago and I am the President and owner. In a nutshell, tell us how a consumer would work with McGehee Cruise & Vacation to plan a trip. First, call us and set up an appointment time to come by for a visit. Let us know your interests and a general idea of your budget. This will help us find some trip options for you to consider. Our services are at no cost to you because we are compensated by the cruise lines and vacation companies when you

What would you say is your company’s specialty? We are a full service travel agency but our specialty is cruises and vacation packages to destinations all over the world for groups and individuals. Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled? Hawaii is my favorite place to visit. It’s a great family friendly vacation. Now Disney has a new resort in Hawaii called Aulani Resort and Spa. Aulani is on a perfect beach with a gentle entry that’s perfect for small kids. It’s located at Ko Olina, Oahu, about 20 miles west of Waikiki on the island’s leeward (less

(See story below)

rainy) side. Aulani has plenty of complimentary fun for families, a perfect beach, lush grounds that double as a waterpark and a superb spa. What other trips are good for families? Alaska is always great for a summer trip and most people cruise for seven days and explore the great land of Alaska for seven days, and that makes a great two-week trip. Also, a two-week trip to Europe is fun and very educational for the kids. Why did you choose Highland Village as the location for your business? Highland village is a fun place to shop. It’s centrally located and all the merchants are friendly and easy to get to know. The buildings are well cared for and uniquely landscaped. And, special events bring thousands of people into Highland Village each year. It’s a great place to be. Where was the last trip you escorted? Last year Carol Ann and I escorted a

large incentive cruise for Worlds Finest Chocolate. They are based in Chicago and we were very excited to get their account. As high school band students Carol Ann and I sold Worlds Finest Chocolate and it was great to get to know the current owner and grandson of the founder. Anything else you want to add about your business? If you belong to a non-profit organization that needs to raise money, call us. Over the years we have helped many non-profits raise money and we might be able to help your orginazition. Also, if you are interested in a travel career, call us. It’s a great way to earn some extra money and you can start out part time. It’s more than a career, It’s a lifestyle! Call now and book early for the best rates - Call 601-981-7070 or email: Also, go to and like us. We promise not to annoy you, and we’ll give you information to get you excited about travel.

Call McGehee Cruise & Vacation, Inc. Call 601.981.7070 Hawaii - Disney World - Europe - Alaska - Caribbean - Mexico - Australia - Africa - South America - Russia - China

Incentives - Meetings - Conventions - Full Ship Charters - Friends & Family Groups

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specializes in incentives, meetings, conventions, full ship charters, and family & friends groups. Meetings can be enhanced with special audio and visual effects and can be valuable forums for presentation and exchange of information among the company's top performers. From small CEO roundtables to sales meetings to sales incentives to full ship charters, call McGehee Cruise & Vacation, Inc. a leader in the market for 40 years.

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6 I Mississippi Business Journal I February 28 2014 TRAVEL

Travel agents are in it for the long haul » Booking online has its drawbacks, agents say just get him home.’” McGehee’s agency found a connecting flight for the stranded boss and saved the day.


Travelers have loads of online options when they’re buying plane tickets, booking cruises or just researching vacation destinations. But, travel agents say websites can’t match the expertise, experience and personal touch they can provide, especially when things go awry. As one Jackson travel agency says on its own website, “The Internet is for looking. McGehee Cruise & Vacation is for booking!” All you have to do is ask people who were stranded during the recent snowstorms,” said Glenn McGehee, the agency’s owner. “How many hours did it take to get through to an airline or Internet site when they needed help?” McGehee said during one winter storm his agency got a frantic call from a company whose boss got stranded on his return trip. The caller said, “I don’t care what it costs,

they feel more comfortable knowing they will be talking to the same person every time,” he said. Calling an 800 number can be frustrating for travelers, especially when something goes wrong.

change. There is a segment of people who are going to travel no matter what.” Lambert said his customers tend to favor the same destinations every year. “Lots of Disney, lots of Carnival Cruises (from New Orleans). We sell a lot of that.

Travel agents say websites can’t match the expertise, experience and personal touch they can provide, especially when things go awry. “The Internet can’t think like a travel agent thinks,” McGehee said. The result? “We actually picked up an account,” he said. McGehee said he is a fan of the Internet and shops online, but said it does have its limitations. “The Internet is not that smart when it comes to solving problems,” he said. Jeff Lambert, an agent at Global Travel Services in Tupelo, said the local connection is important to customers. “Some people still like to come in and sit down at our desks. If there is a problem


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“You can’t get them on the phone or by email and you get someone different every time. It’s like going in a circle,” Lambert said. And the prices are the same either way, Lambert said, “except you’re not having to sit and wait.” As a result, he said, “We have lots of repeat customers and word-ofmouth business.” Lambert said some customers do their research online and then come to his agency and say, ‘This is what we found. What do you think?’ When it gets down to it, they still come in.” Lambert and McGehee said business so far this year is good. “It looks like this is going to be a great year,” McGehee said. “What it tells us is people who have some money want to get out of town and go do something fun for a


Continued from Page 4

are more tender,” she said. Things might not be as bad as they seem, Cuevas said. “We’re not going to know for a little while because some things may survive.” Kelly said recent mild winters may have led home gardeners to push their luck by planting plants that are outside their safe growing zone. Banana or palm trees come to mind. “Some of these types of plants are pushing the zone a little bit, particularly in the northern part of the state," she said. Palm trees heavily damaged by the cold seem to be an early casualty. “Some are going to survive but some won’t,” Cuevas said. Nursery owners such as Cuevas have to keep a close eye on weather to protect their livelihoods and investments. “They watch the weather like a farmer,” Kelly said. Cuevas said, “We do grow a lot of our own material in our greenhouses and we had to do a lot of heating. Luckily there was no damage but we had to stay on top of it.” Cold weather can delay plant growth, but

Then for flying, it’s Jamaica, Hawaii, Cancun and the Mayan Riviera.” McGehee said his travelers are going all over the world, to Europe and Hawaii. Alaska cruises also are big, he said. His business is roughly half cruises and half vacation packages. Travelers pay no fees for major cruises and vacation packages but for custom type trips with complex arrangements, there are fees, he said. Corporate travel, which had fallen off with budget belt tightening, is picking up, but businesses are still looking to save money, McGehee said. “We’re finding companies are using their membership rewards points for international travel and we can help them with big savings.”

Cuevas said with the recent sunshine the plants at Pine Hills are starting to catch up. “Normally we’re geared up for the first of March but it may be mid March or so,” she said. “Things that can be planted now such as trees and shrubs are available. The more tender plants will be readily available by mid March.” Mark Terkanian of Natchez Trace Greenhouses, a wholesaler in Kosciusko, said this winter’s extreme cold was a contrast to the past few winters, which were warmer. “We hadn’t had a winter like this since 1994 or ‘95,” he said. No matter the weather, Terkanian does the same thing every year in his greenhouses. “We fill all our production space that we have for every spring,” he said. Some years he sells more perennials, and some years not so many. He expects this may be one of those good years. “My guess is it will be a little bit brisker on perennials that people want to replace,” Terkanian said. The return of spring means full parking lots at nurseries, and this year may bring more traffic. “Whenever it’s a really bad winter, people are sick of the weather and are ready to go outside and do something,” Terkanian said.

A member of the Mississippi Press Association

200 North Congress, Suite 400 Jackson, MS 39201-1902 Main: (601) 364-1000 Faxes: Advertising (601) 364-1007; Circulation (601) 364-1035 E-mails:,,,,

Website: February 28, 2014 Volume 36, Number 9

ALAN TURNER Publisher • 364-1021 ROSS REILY Editor • 364-1018 WALLY NORTHWAY Senior Writer • 364-1016 FRANK BROWN Staff Writer/Special Projects • 364-1022 TED CARTER Staff Writer • 364-1017 LISA MONTI Contributing Writer • 364-1018

MBJPERSPECTIVE February 28, 2014 • • Page 7


Third gate will need more serious support ississippi legislators hoping to improve the state’s educational performance over the last couple of years took a look at Florida and liked what they saw. Under former Gov. Jeb Bush, that state initiated a number of school reforms that resulted in significant gains on test scores over time. Gov. Phil Bryant was a leading proponent of emulating the Florida model in Mississippi. One of the key Florida initiatives which Bryant advocated and the 2013 Legislature adopted was what’s called the thirdgrade reading gate, or third-gate. Simply put, it’s designed to have all third-graders reading


at grade level or they don’t get promoted to fourth grade. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, Mississippi schools will be held to that standard. In Florida, which implemented the thirdgrade reading gate in 2003, fourth-grade reading scores went from well below to above the national average and, on one test, to a level of strong international competitiveness. Seeing these results, Mississippi lawmakers adopted a similar program. But Mississippi hasn’t put anywhere near the resources into the effort as Florida, which placed a literacy coach in every school in the state. The Mississippi Legislature, by con-

trast, appropriated just $9.5 million for literacy coaches and there are only 24 of them for the entire state. The third-grade reading gate wasn’t instituted in isolation, either. It was accompanied by a vast investment of resources in a statewide pre-K initiative, which subsidized parents placing their children in childcare centers that met established state criteria. Telling the schools that all children had to be reading on grade level by the end of third grade wasn’t just a directive with a negative incentive; it involved a massive effort to shore up instruction and quality at all levels. Mississippi still has invested only minimal resources in pre-K. If we want the success Florida saw, it will take much more. — NE Miss Daily Journal

BOBBY HARRISON Contributing Writer • 364-1018 TAMI JONES Advertising Director • 364-1011



Ruskey is being given the shaft by the DOR

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TACY RAYBURN Production Manager • 364-1019 CHARINA RHODES Circulation Manager • 364-1045 MARCIA THOMPSON-KELLY Business Assistant • 364-1044 SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES (601) 364-1000 Mississippi Business Journal (USPS 000-222) is published weekly with one annual issue by MSBJ 200 N. Congress St., Suite 400, Jackson, MS 39201. Periodicals postage paid at Jackson, MS. Subscription rates: 1 year $109; 2 years $168; and 3 years $214. To place orders, temporarily stop service, change your address or inquire about billing: Phone: (601) 3641000, Fax: (601) 364-1035, Email:, Mail: MS Business Journal Subscription Services, 200 N.Congress Street, Suite 400, Jackson, MS 39201 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mississippi Business Journal, Circulation Manager, 200 North Congress Street, Suite 400, Jackson, MS 39201 To submit subscription payments: Mail: MS Business Journal Subscriptions Services, 200 North Congress Street, Suite 400, Jackson, MS 39201. No material in this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written consent. Editorial and advertising material contained in this publication is derived from sources considered to be reliable, but the publication cannot guarantee their accuracy. Nothing contained herein should be construed as a solicitation for the sale or purchase of any securities. It is the policy of this newspaper to employ people on the basis of their qualifications and with assurance of equal opportunity and treatment regardless of race, color, creed, sex, age, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or handicap. The Mississippi Business Journal, is an affiliate of Journal Publishing Company (JPC), Inc.: Clay Foster, president and chief executive officer. Entire contents copyrighted © 2014 by Journal Inc. All rights reserved.

» HOW TO WRITE Letters to the editor are one of the most widely read features of the Mississippi Business Journal, and they give everyone a chance to voice their opinions about current affairs. We’re interested in what you think and we welcome Letters to the Editor for publication. Here are the guidelines: >> Letters should not exceed 300 words in length as a general rule. >> All letters must bear the writer’s address and telephone number. Street addresses and telephone numbers will not be published, but may be used for verification purposes. Letters may not appear without the author’s name. >> Form letters, thank you letters and letters to third parties generally are not acceptable. >> Letters must be typed or e-mailed. >> Letters must conform to good taste, not be libelous and not involve personal attacks on other persons.

>> All letters are subject to editing, and become the property of the Mississippi Business Journal. >> Letters can be sent to The Editor, The Mississippi Business Journal, 200 North Congress, Suite 400, Jackson, MS 39201, delivered to the newspaper during regular business hours or e-mailed to They may also be faxed to Ross Reily at (601)-364-1007.

» CORRECTIONS The Mississippi Business Journal takes seriously its responsibility to provide accurate information, and will correct or clarify articles produced by the editorial department if we have made an error or published misleading information. The correction will be placed in the perspective section. If you see inaccuracies in Mississippi Business Journal news stories, please report the mistake via email at

f you read last week’s Mississippi Business Journal, you likely read a story about John Ruskey’s Quapaw Canoe Company and its battle with the Mississippi Department of Revenue. Becky Gillette’s story details that the only nature tourism business in Mississippi that takes people out in canoes padding the Mississippi River has run into a major logjam that threatens to force it out of business. Quapaw Canoe Company, which builds the large canoes used to take people on educational canoeing trips on the river, has been hit with a tax bill now totaling $41,000 while also running up $20,000 in bills for accountants and attorneys to fight what the business believes is improper taxation. “I’m not sure if we’ll survive the fight,” Ruskey said of his Quapaw Ross Reily Canoe Company in Clarksdale and in Helena, Ark. “The root of the problem is that there is no place in the Mississippi State Tax Code for us. The federal law says no taxes shall be charged on navigable waters. We have always operated under the assumption that we would be covered under that law and have never charged taxes for our services, although we have for sales and rentals. Now the Mississippi Department of Revenue wants to assess us for taxes on all of our income for the past four years, which now amounts to over $41,000 including interest and penalties.” Quapaw is even being charged tax on income sources like schools, non-profits and government agencies that are not normally considered taxable. Ruskey is trying to figure out how to resolve this — not only for them, but anyone else following in their footSee REILY, Page 8


8 I Mississippi Business Journal I February 28, 2014 » RICKY NOBILE



Reporter says McDaniel hedging on many key issues


f you sense something fishy about Sen. Thad Cochran’s upstart opponent, it may be the flip-flopping. Republican senate candidate Chris McDaniel’s issue fickleness was exposed in a recent article by reporter Alexander Burns. McDaniel promotes himself as an anti-government, antispending purist in the mold of Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, both of whom, for example, took strong ideological positions against the federal farm bill and the Hurricane Sandy relief bill. “I’m not going to do anything for you,” McDaniel preached to a group of Ole Miss students, according to Burns. “I’m going to get the government off your back, then I’m gonna let you do it for yourself.” But a little later, Burns reported, McDaniel “hedged that statement.” When asked about whether he supported the federal farm bill or efforts to subsidize federal flood insurance rates, “McDaniel said he was not prepared to take a position on either.” On the flood insurance issue he added, “The people of the Coast have come to depend upon that, to a certain extent.” McDaniel also waffled, Burns reported, on whether he would have championed the Hurricane Katrina relief bill that Cochran championed and pushed to passage. “I would have to see the details of it. I really would,” McDaniel said, according to Burns. “That’s not an easy vote to cast.” Pressed by Burns, McDaniel said, “I probably would have supported it.” The next day McDaniel’s spokesman “to clarify” told Burns “Chris would’ve been a yes vote on the disaster bill.”

Bill Crawford In the days following the Burns article, newspaper editorials and numerous Republican leaders blasted McDaniel for his weak statement of support for Katrina relief. McDaniel responded by saying his opponents were slandering him. Then, he posted on Facebook a message of sudden strong support for hurricane relief spending: “Just to be perfectly clear, I support disaster relief efforts for massive tragedies like Katrina.” Alas, to please the big out-of-state Super Pacs bankrolling his campaign, McDaniel needs to stay on the anti-government, anti-spending message with Cruz and Lee. “McDaniel spoke admiringly of Cruz and Lee,” Burns wrote in his article, “explaining that he had spoken with both men and met several times with Lee. Asked what kind of advice he got from the upstart duo, McDaniel said it was much ‘the same type of advice I gave those students tonight. Just that the country is worth defending, the country is worth saving and that it takes courage to do that. That’s the message of our movement.” Hmm, courage. Courage means sticking with the message in the face of opposition, something McDaniel seems to have trouble doing. One final fishy note in the article, Burns wrote, “Lee’s spokesman said the senator’s conversations with McDaniel were ‘news to me.’” Oops.

Bill Crawford ( is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

Continued from Page 7

steps in nature tourism, here and in the rest of the Deep South. “Whatever we do here is likely to be mimicked in other Southern states,” he said. States like Utah and Idaho with long traditions of river runners have dedicated whole sections of their tax law in accordance with the federal exemption. States such as Tennessee have honored the federal exemption. The fact is the DOR needs to figure this out. Ruskey should be a hero figure to us in Mississippi. His sheer spirit of entrepreneurial creativity in Mississippi is amazing. Ruskey’s canoe company offers a variety of day trips and excursions down the Big Muddy from as far north as Cairo, Ill., all the way to the Gulf Coast with numerous stops and ports in between. It also conducts floats on the Big Sunflower and Yazoo rivers in Mississippi, as well as the White and Arkansas rivers in that state. John himself has floated the Mississippi River many times from Minnesota to the Gulf learning all the twists, turns, towns and current spins along the way. Trips can be as short as a single-day float on the river, or customized itineraries that can last as long an entire week or two. Extended trips of course provide on the river camp outs overnight. Quapaw provides all the essential canoeing equipment including suitable watercraft, personal floatation devices and paddles plus all the provisions to sustain the group for the duration of the trip. They have the capability to carry just a single passenger or groups or families and friends up to 25. It would make a great trip for a scout troop, office team or church class. Per person rates run $50 plus a shuttle pick up fee that is usually only $15$25. The nice part about the trip planning process is that Ruskey is willing to tailor a trip to whatever the group wants to do in their time frame. There are plenty of options to consider, which means Quapaw caters to its clients first. The norm for one of these canoe trips is being able to enjoy observing river boat traffic, a bounty of river landscapes, huge pristine sand beaches, spectacular sunrises and sunsets, not to mention all the photographic opportunities one could imagine. Add to that more than 241 species of fish, 60 percent of all U.S. bird species and wildlife watchings that could include deer, river otter, beaver and other wildlife even with the potential to spot a black bear. Ruskey is cut from different cloth than most of us. What he sees and feels on the rivers he travels, we know little about. The best part is this guy operates a unique business giving us all the opportunity to learn more about our rivers and the bounty they represent. We, as a state, should be supporting Rusky and the Quapaw Canoe Company. We should be finding a way to support his endeavor, which is to promote Mississippi most valuable resources. I thank and applaud John Ruskey for what he has done for Mississippi. If you think you’re up to a canoe trip on the Big Muddy, check out John’s Web site at Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at or (601) 364-1018

February 28 2014


Mississippi Business Journal




Working out the logistics » Expeditors to open local office next month BY WALLY NORTHWAY I STAFF WRITER

Expeditors International of Washington Inc. is a Fortune 500 company that employs a staff of 13,000-plus and has established a network of more than 250 offices scattered across six continents. But when the Seattle, Wash.-based logistics company opens its newest office next month in Jackson, Expeditors wants to offer clients a small business-type experience, and is banking that keeping it local will be a winning strategy. “It’s an old-school approach,” said Spencer Errington, branch manager of the Jackson office that has set its grand opening

Special to the Mississippi Business Journal

Expeditors is looking to Mississippians Spencer Errington (left) and Dustin Winkler (right) to put “a local face” on the Fortune 500 company that is based in Seattle, Wash.

It proved successful. In 1981, Expeditors had only six offices, but subsequently grew to become one of the largest U.S.-based air freight forwarders of goods from the Far East. It entered the Fortune 500 list in 2006 with $4.6 billion in revenue. By 2010, revenues were near $6 billion. Today, it operates regional headquarters in London, Sao Paulo, Beirut and Shanghai, and offers air and ocean freight consolidation and forwarding, vendor consolidation, customs clearance, cargo insurance, distribution and other valueadded logistics services. During the recent recession, Expeditors made the decision to not lay off a single employee. Errington said that positions the

“It’s about building personal relationships — face to face, shake a hand.”

expected to be on hand. The grand opening will be held March 25 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in suite 15B of the Mississippi Air Cargo Logistics Center.

The event will offer lunch and door prizes. For more on Expeditors, visit

Spencer Manager Branch manager, Jackson office of Expeditors International of Washington

for March 25 at Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evans International Airport’s Mississippi Air Cargo Logistics Center. “It’s about building personal relationships — face to face, shake a hand. We’re excited to be in Jackson, and look forward to growing our presence here.” Expeditors is relying on young executives Errington and Dustin Winkler, director of sales for the new Jackson location, to pull off the strategy. Both are native Mississippians — Errington hails from Brookhaven and attended the University of Mississippi while Winkler calls Terry home and is a product of the University of Southern Mississippi. Expeditors currently has offices in New Orleans and Memphis (the Jackson office is a branch of the Memphis unit), but Errington said the Jackson office will offer Mississippi customers a more convenient and cost-effective location. Expeditors International of Washington registered as a single-office ocean forwarder in Seattle in 1979. Two years later, executives Peter Rose and James Wang, who sketched out a business plan on a bar napkin, joined Expeditors along with Glenn Alger. They trio envisioned a one-stop shop for transportation and customs brokerage.

company well to meet growing demand as the economy regains momentum. “Mississippi is growing. The economy continues to strengthen as exports increase due to the volume of manufacturers who have found a home here. We want to support those manufacturers by providing them excellent, local customer service,” said Kimberly Lovell, Expeditors’ regional manager, Mid-Atlantic, sales & market development. “I feel like that gives us a competitive advantage,” Errington said. “We are now ready to meet our customers’ needs today and tomorrow.” Lovell said, “Expeditors has always grown organically with the belief that local, clientfacing business is the strongest kind. While our competitors move into call centers and further away from their customers, we will continue to move into communities and closer to ours. We are thrilled to be here to serve the people of Mississippi.” Expeditors’ arrival in Jackson has already turned heads. At its grand opening, Gov. Phil Bryant (guest speaker), Mississippi director for the U.S. Department of Commerce and Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith and other officials are

1501 Lakeland Drive, Suite 340 Jackson, MS 39216 601-981-1500

10 I Mississippi Business Journal I February 28 2014 REAL ESTATE

District at Eastover takes shape with financing in place, tenant signings under way By TED CARTER I STAFF WRITER

Developers of the $115 million District at Eastover mixeduse development say financing has been secured and a groundbreaking is imminent for the project that was to start construction last summer. Ted Duckworth, a principal of The District Land Development Co., is promising to bring a combination of shops, restaurants, hotel, theater, offices and loft residences unmatched in Mississippi. “There is nothing like what we’re doing” that is already “here in Mississippi,” he said. For comparison, he said, envision the City Center in Houston built to a Jackson scale. “It’ll have its own character. We’re creating a destination.” Duckworth said he and development partner Beck Hines, both principals of downtown Jackson’s Duckworth Realty, traveled the country looking at other projects. They settled on a plan to cluster the various elements around green space, an arrangement Duckworth said he expects to be especially appealing to office tenants. “The new amenity for office tenants is being in a livable development. Tenants are paying 8 to 10 percent more to be in those developments where employees want to be and clients want to come.” The 140,000-square-foot office building has already secured a signature tenant, the law firm of Baker Donelson, which will lease 75,000 square feet. The building is to be completed by July 2015, as will a 400-space parking garage for office tenant use during the day and movie and restaurant patrons at night. The 585,000-square-foot mixed use complex will go up in See


for the Mississippi Business Journal

These new renderings show The District at Eastover, which will have about 85,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. The theater will be another 40,000 square feet. Two-hundred-forty apartments are planned. In all, the mixed-use complex will cover the equivalent of four to five city blocks, the developers say. ... The 140,000-square-foot office building (below A2) has already secured a signature tenant, the law firm of Baker Donelson, which will lease 75,000 square feet. The building is to be completed by July 2015, as will a 400-space parking garage for office tenant use during the day and movie and restaurant patrons at night.

February 28 2014


Continued from Page 10

two close-together phases on 23 acres on the east side of Interstate 55 on which the state’s School for the Blind once stood. “We’re trying to get” phase two “on the same track as phase one,” Hines said in an interview. “It’ll maybe fall six to eight months behind” phase one. The District at Eastover will have about 85,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. The theater will be another 40,000 square feet. Two-hundred-forty apartments are planned. In all, the mixed-use complex will cover the equivalent of four to five city blocks, the developers say. The remaining square-footage consists mostly of bank space, Hines said, referring to the building that Community Trust Bank will occupy. “The lofts/retail building, hotel, the restaurant/retail/condo building and the bank will also start so that all their completions generally fall in line with the office building, Hines said in an email. “During that time, we finalize the leases for the restaurants/coffee/yogurt locations… and because they are smaller buildings and do not take as long to construct, we believe those, too, will be open on the same timeline as the aforementioned,” he added. A Residence Inn by Marriott and a Cantina Laredo restaurant are set to join Community Trust Bank and some other niche retail on the project’s perimeter. “We’ve been working on this since 2007,” Duckworth said. “We paid all cash for the property. Fortunately, we weren’t beholden to an interest meter running. That has given us time to develop it our way — to create a place

“We paid all cash for the property. Fotunately, we weren’t beholden to an interest meter running.” Beck Hines Principal, Duckworth Realty

unique to Jackson. “We want an environment that is not some kind of something” else, Duckworth added. Neither French nor Italian, he said, “just an outdoor place people may want to go to.” Planning started just as the nation’s real estate slump and banking crisis began, but the $4 million cash purchase of the property from the state gave Duckworth and Hines time for both banking and real estate to regain their footing. “They’ve come around,” Duckworth said of lenders. “This kind of ground-up development is probably the most challenging in the market these days,” he added. “But bankers are interested in doing deals.”


and received frequent updates from their superintendent on academic progress. They focused on what was taught and how it was taught.” A study by a University of Southern Mississippi Lee added, “School board members are leaders, professor is complete and finds that there is a direct and they have to act like leaders.” He said school correlation between school board members’ board associations are generally doing an excellent behavior and attitude and the academic job with training, but too often there is a disconnect achievement of the students under their governance. between “knowing and doing.” However, the leader of the organization here in Dr. Mike Waldrop, executive director of the Mississippi tasked with training school board Mississippi School Board Association, which trains members says it is a complex issue that is affected the state’s school board members, said the basic by a number of factors including the differing roles of premise of the study is “dead right.” board members and superintendents, “A change of just one member of a school board elections/turnover and — ironically — education. can affect its effectiveness — I’ve seen it personally,” Dr. David Lee, an associate professor of educational Waldrop said. “There is no doubt that school board leadership at USM, led a research team that members play a crucial role in student performance.” observed more than 150 school board meetings However, Waldrop pointed out that there are many across the U.S. in attempt to quantify the importance underlying factors that make the issue much more of effective school boards as it pertains to academic complex than the USM study shows. achievement. One is the differing roles school boards and “The purpose was to see how boards operated in superintendents play. Superintendents are both low- and high-performing school systems,” Lee responsible for managing their school districts, while said. “There was a big difference in the way boards in school board members are charged with ensuring high-performing systems conducted their board compliance and governance. Without effective meetings and what they focused on. They followed training and communication, Waldrop said school their agendas, did not cave in to special interest board members and superintendents can find groups, focused on student achievement and themselves on opposite sides and struggling to instruction, set clear expectations on learner outcomes, paid greater attention to the curriculum See USM, Page 12

Mississippi Business Journal



Hines noted an “infill” mixed-use project such as the District at Eastover can be more difficult to accomplish than a suburban “greenfield” project by which the developers get out in front of the growth. “There you are early and it becomes a factor of how long you can support it until growth and development gets there. Infills are harder. They’re mixed use and take longer” to develop, which is demonstrated by the seven years of work that went into the District at Eastover. The upside, Hines said, is that once the project is there “the population is already there.” The population near the District of Eastover is in the center of Metro Jackson, near an intersection at Lakeland Drive and I-55 where 130,000 automobiles pass daily. The actual trade area developers see has a 100-mile radius and includes 824,000 people, with average annual household incomes of $114,844. The developers received a $150,000 state “brownsfield” rebate to help cover the approximate $300,000 cost of removing asbestos from the former School for the Blind building before demolishing it, according to Hines. The City of Jackson designated the District at Eastover property a tax increment district by which the project can receive up to $7 million in tax increment funding over a 10-year period based on increases in property tax values within the district. Hines said grading of the property will begin as soon as the ground dries out from winter rains. Architect for the project is Nelson Palmer of Austin, Texas. Construction manager is Stewart Swayze, president of Jackson’s Swayze Consultants. Hines said a general contractor is expected to be selected in the next month.

TWO-ROOM SCHOOL » USM report spotlights role of school boards, superintendents



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12 I Mississippi Business Journal I February 28 2014 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

MDA opens up exclusive recruiting trips to economic developers across state » The idea is to bring more recruiters on board to deliver a more powerful message By TED CARTER I STAFF WRITER

After years of limiting its exclusive Team Mississippi business recruiting to large utilities in the state, the Mississippi Development Authority this year is inviting the state’s economic development entities to participate. The invitations to join in wooing business prospects in four major U.S. cities went out to around 700 members of the Mississippi Economic Development Council, a Jackson-based trade organization for professionals in the business recruiting field, said Marlo Dorsey, the MDA’s chief marketing officer. “We’re trying to be a lot more inclusive.” With the change comes a rebranding to a new name: Team Mississippi is now One Mississippi. The term more suitably fits the MDA’s goal of achieving a cohesive statewide marketing effort as well as providing the state’s economic development recruiters with opportunities to meet exclusively with site selectors and other key decision makers, the MDA says. “We are doing something a little bit different as far as we have planned our out of state” One Mississippi events, Dorsey said of the new recruitment strategy. “We want to bring Mississippi to these cities as a group,” she added. “We want to try to get more people to go at one time so we can deliver a more powerful message.”


And gain some economies of scale on the costs. “Our budget does not allow us to travel much,” Dorsey said of the MDA, “When we have a larger group of people, the costs go down.” The goal is to match up the interests of recruiters with what the state has to offer, she said. “One-hundred percent of the attention of these site selectors will be on us at one time,” she added, and noted it is expected discussions will focus on such topics as the competitiveness of the state’s utilities costs and its competencies in advanced manufacturing. “These are high-profile trips where we want to go in and make a splash.” This year’s One Mississippi recruiting opportunities include exclusive meetings with economic development consultants and key executives in Dallas April 4-6, New York City June 12-14, Chicago May 1-3 and Atlanta Sept. 11-14. One Mississippi also includes the “Blues Road Trip” from Oct. 15-17 and other events yet to be announced. As with the exclusive meetings with recruiters in the major markets, the Blues Road Trip was previously limited to such utilities as Mississippi Power, Entergy and the TVA and included tours and backgrounders on the Mississippi Delta’s opportunities in manufacturing and other business endeavors. The MDA is offering three pricing options for participation in One Mississippi, ranging from $5,000 to $45,000.

Continued from Page 11

perform their duties. Adding to that complexity is turnover. School board members are largely elected, not appointed. That and other factors mean there is a near-constant “passing of the beret.” “Every year, we lose approximately 100 of our 700 school board members,” Waldrop said. “It is a moving target. Just when we get all of our school board members trained, we have turnover and start all over again. And the turnover in superintendents is phenomenal. It is a real challenge.” Perhaps the biggest issue facing the relationship between superintendents and school board members, however, is the divide in training. While the Mississippi School Board Association trains board members, the Mississippi Department of Education is charged with the training of superintendents. “The only time we get involved with school boards is when there is an accreditation issue,” said Patrice Guilfoyle, communications director at the Mississippi Department of Education. In short, superintendents and school board members only receive joint

Participation fees include up to two representatives and the subscriber’s selection of guests to be invited. It does not include travel and lodging. Dorsey emphasized that economic development entities in the state unable to make the trips to the major markets will still have representation from the MDA. “Sometimes people don’t want to go out of state. That’s fine. We will still pull in any opportunities that come their way,” she said. Response has been strong, according to Dorsey, who said the invitees have a March deadline for sign-ups. The Community Development Foundation representing Tupelo and Lee County will take part, but has not yet decided at what level, said Shane Homan, senior vice president of economic development services. “The CDF is excited about the new marketing opportunities being created by the MDA,” Homan said in an email. “We would not be able to afford to do these events individually and the tiered membership allows us to choose how we can participate in this effort.” The North Mississippi Industrial Development Association based in West Point sees the One Mississippi opportunities as a positive step for the MDA, said Joseph T. Geddie, executive director, in an email. Geddie did not say whether the Development Association would participate. The Greenwood-Leflore Industrial

training when their school district fails. Waldrop said he believes a change in the training process for both school board members and superintendents is warranted. More joint education would be a plus, he said. “The reaction from superintendents who go through joint training with school board members invariably is positive,” said Waldrop, who pointed out that due to limited resources the association can only conduct about a dozen whole-board training programs annually — the vast majority of school board members go through the six-hour training module on an individual basis. In releasing his results of the USM study, Lee said school board members are not held to same expectations as educators and administrators when it comes to accountability. He was highly critical of what he perceives as a double standard. Lee said, “School boards have been virtually overlooked from recent sweeping accountability movements. Much is expected of school districts, individual schools, teachers and administrators, but those who potentially most impact the quality of a school system, in regard to policy, seem to have been almost ignored. “There is a tendency for boards to blame others for their shortcomings.

Board intends to participate in at least one of the out-of-state events, according to Angela Curry, executive director of the economic development agency. “While budgets will not allow us or some of the smaller communities to participate at larger levels, there is the opportunity to partner with MDA on our state recruitment efforts,” Curry said in an email. Budget restraints will keep Tishomingo County’s representatives at home, said Gary Matthews, the Tishomingo County Development Foundation’s executive director. The county recently celebrated the groundbreaking of Mississippi Silicon Metal’s more than $100 million plant, a recruitment effort in which the MDA had a large role. Matthews said for now he must continue to rely on the MDA to be a voice nationally for Tishomingo County, a small county situated on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway near Mississippi’s boundaries with Tennessee and Alabama. “They have been very fair as far as not representing one area over another,” Matthews said of the MDA. “We really trust the MDA to be very fair.” But those One Mississippi events are “way out of our budget,” he said, and noted that like many other Mississippi economic development agencies of its size, the Tishomingo County Development Foundation’s entire annual marketing budget is less than $10,000. “We may be able to do something as a regional group,” Matthews said of his organization and others in the region. Face-to-face talks with a site selector can bring rewards, Matthews said, but only if the economic development agency making the pitch is offering something of practical value to the selector’s client. “Site selection consultants are driven by how they can please their clients,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how much face time you have if you don’t have what the client of the site selector needs.”

They are quick to turn against their superintendent because they don’t see quick gains in achievement. They are looking at others while they should be looking in the mirror.” Waldrop took exception to this, again saying the issue is more complex than that. “Accountable for what?” Waldrop asked. As example, he asked if the Legislature changes the funding mechanism for schools, should school board members be held accountable for that? “School boards should only be held accountable for what they can control,” Waldrop said. Lee, who has been a principal, superintendent of schools, deputy state superintendent of education for the State of Louisiana and a school board member and currently serves as a consultant, said he will present his study’s findings at the annual meeting of the National School Boards Association in New Orleans in April. Lee also said his research team is developing a national training model based on their research on board behaviors.

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2014 Business Woman of the


The Top 10

Thomasson Company CEO Pat Thomasson has been named the Mississippi Business Journal's 2014 Businesswoman of the Year. The announcement was made during a ceremony Thursday at the Hilton of Jackson. Becoming the leader of a company her parents built, however, was rather humbling for Thomasson. The Thomasson Company provides pressure treated utility poles of varying lengths and specifications for use by utility companies of all types. Depending on specific climate, Thomasson provides varying degrees of treatment designed to delay the decaying process and ensure pole longevity. As CEO of the Thomasson Company in Neshoba County, she’s increased the wood products company’s sales by more than 50 percent to

more than $60 million without any acquisit An active member of the Women’s Business terprise Council South, Thomasson is a strong vocate for other women in business and passio about issues surrounding the business commu In 2010, she was elected president of Mississippi Lumber Manufacturers Asso tion. Thomasson was the first female to ach this position. A breast cancer survivor, Thomasson is a graduate of the University of Mississippi an founder and director of the Neshoba Co Rebel Club, and serves as secretary of the Ro Club of Philadelphia.

— Mississippi Business Jo




Tribal Chief, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

Owner, Jimmy Portable Building

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, St. Dominic Health Service

A proud native of the Red Water community in Neshoba County, Chief Phyliss Anderson is the Tribal Chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws. Fluent in the Choctaw language, Anderson was officially sworn in as the first woman chief in Choctaw history during an October 2011 inauguration ceremony. Anderson has more than 26 years of experience with tribal government management, including eight years as tribal court representative and four years as secretary-treasurer of the tribe.

Debbie Bailey never allowed the lack of a high school diploma deter her from becoming ultra-successful in the business world. That’s because as the founder and owner of Jimmy’s Portable Buildings in Greenville, Bailey has boosted her company to become the number one dealer in Mississippi for the past four years and the first in the state to reach the Million Dollar Club in 2012. Today, she owns and manages 14 retail locations in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Deidra Bell is the chief financial officer for St. Dominic Hospital. During the last three years, the Cleveland, Tenn., native has had the opportunity to develop the Madison School Nurse Program, which provides a nurse for fourteen elementary and middle schools in the Madison County School District. In 2012, the program reported nearly 40,000 student visits. Working with the hospital’s leadership team, Bell also has been involved in the development of the Club at the Township and the Sanctuary Spa, a family-oriented fitness facility focused on providing health wellness programs.




Senior Manager, Technical Support/Facilities Management, Comcast Cable-Madison

President & Chief Executive Officer, Dependable Source Corp. of Mississippi

Senior Vice President, regional marketing director, Regions

President, Mississippi Council

For Mary Jackson, pleasing the customer is the name of the game. A Houston, Texas, native, Jackson is the senior manager in the Customer Care Division of Comcast in Madison. She holds responsibility over all aspects of the company’s call center, including motivating a staff of six call center managers and 40 supervisors. In 2013, Jackson was selected as a Rising Leader by Women in Cable Telecommunications. Prior to joining Comcast in 2008, Jackson worked at FedEx in various roles and has expertise in strategic planning, human resources and technology.

With true entrepreneurial spirit, Willie Jones launched Dependable Source Corporation of Mississippi in October 1995. A “one-woman” show, the Bassfield native did it all, including business development, sales and hiring. An employee leasing firm specializing in commercial truck drivers, Dependable Source now boasts nearly 100 employees and is considered one of the best in the commercial trucking field. In the last three years, Jones started Dependable Source In-Home Care for Seniors and Disabled Persons.

In her role as regional marketing director for Regions Bank in Mississippi, Candie Simmons provides marketing and advertising support for 137 branches. Prior to coming to Regions, Simmons worked as assistant director of alumni affairs for the University of Mississippi, where she was chief fundraiser for the Robert “Gentle Ben” Williams Scholarship Endowment. In the past three years, Simmons has worked closely with the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, participating with Camp KANDU and raising money for their annual walk.

Selena Swartzfager is a firm believer that a person’s success is a result of being surrounded by great people. The president of the Mississippi Council on Economic Education, Swartzfager’s goal for the organization is to educate teachers so that they can teach students to become economically literate. Under her leadership, the MCEE has trained 1,300 teachers and reached over 13 Additionally, Swartzfager has mittee for the National Assoc


Executive Vice President, Jacks Greater Jackson Chamber Partn

No task is too large or too small for Cynthia Buchanan. As the executive vice presiden of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest chamber institutions in the state of Mississippi, Buchanan works closely with local business leaders to get results. She has been instrumental in the establishment of major events such as the Authentici White and Jackson Fourth of J Business Retention program.


f the Year


ut any acquisitions. men’s Business Enasson is a strong adness and passionate usiness community. d president of the acturers Associat female to achieve

homasson is also a Mississippi and is Neshoba County etary of the Rotary

ssippi Business Journal


Vice President, Jackson Chamber, ckson Chamber Partnership

k is too large or too Cynthia Buchanan. ecutive vice president kson Chamber of e, one of the largest nstitutions in the Mississippi, Buchanan sely with local busiers to get results. een instrumental in ishment of major ch as the Authenticity Awards Banquet, the Red, d Jackson Fourth of July celebration and the Jackson Retention program.


Mary Kelly Kiffany Lee Mary Clay Morgan Kamesha Brown Mumford Katrina Boyette Myricks Kimberly Walker Nailor Mindi Phillips Lauren Rutland Allison C. Simpson Becky Smith Lisa Stutzman Alexe van Buren Edie L. Varnado Amy L. Walker Suzanne Walters Jane Sanders Waugh Virginia McBryde Todd Weaver Becky White Jenny Bourn Woodruff

President, Homestar, LLC

Despite her considerable success as a business owner for over three decades, Julia Ann Harrison lists rearing three children and making sure they graduated from college as her most significant accomplishment. The Koscuisko native is president of Homestar, a Ridgeland company specializing in the design and construction of upscale homes. Previously, Harrison owned one of the largest heating and air conditioning companies in the southeastern United States. The director of the Madison County Junior Miss franchise for the past 10 years, Harrison also is president and a member of the board for the Jackson Real Estate Investment Group.



, Mississippi Council on Economic Education

Chief Financial Officer, DIG

a Swartzfager is a ever that a person’s s a result of being ed by great people. dent of the Missisncil on Economic n, Swartzfager’s he organization is te teachers so that teach students to economically literer her leadership, E has trained 1,300 and reached over 130,000 students across the state. ally, Swartzfager has served on the executive comr the National Association of Economic Educators.

Sabrena Goins Bartley Lisa Bell Mary Allen Bennett Latasha Bibb Barbara Ann Bluntson Krista Bower Stephanie Jones Boyette Talamieka McNeil-Brice Elizabeth M. Brister Chrissy Linn Cullinane C. Rochelle Culp Tracy Diez Michele L. Escudé Portia Ballard Espy Catherine F. Feibelman Keri T. Haralson Sandy Havard Rosalyn Smith Howard Paige Hunt Nicole R. Johns

Mary Ashley Wolverton is the chief financial officer and part owner of DIG Creative Solutions in Flowood. DIG (Digital Imaging Group) is a graphic design agency that provides advertising solutions and works with businesses throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico to develop and concept their advertising needs. Numbered among Wolverton’s clients are C-Spire Wireless, Nissan North America, Newk’s, Yates Construction, the Army National Guard and the St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Dominic’s Congratulates

Deidra Bell on being named as one of

Mississippi Business Journal’s 50 Leading Businesswomen.

Candie L. Simmons

Congratulations to Candie L. Simmons. Regions Bank is pleased to congratulate Candie L. Simmons for being selected as one of the 50 Leading Business Women in Mississippi for 2013. Candie has been with Regions for seven years and is currently a Senior Vice President and Regional Marketing Director. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Mississippi Children’s Museum Partners and also serves on the board of The University of Mississippi Alumni Association. Her previous community involvement includes serving on the Mississippi Council on Economic Education Board, the Go Red for Women committee with the American Heart Association and the Jackson State University Entrepreneurship Advisory Council. She received her BBA in marketing from The University of Mississippi and is currently working toward her MBA. Candie’s commitment to excellence and community service is a true inspiration, and the Regions team is thrilled that she is being recognized.

1.800.regions |

© 2014 Regions Bank.

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18 I Mississippi Business Journal I February 28 2014 BANKING AND FINANCE

Community Trust Bank has total assets of $3.164B Community Trust Bank has total assets of approximately $3.164 billion, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Established in 1912, the bank has total deposits of approximately $2.668 billion as of Sept. 30, 2013, and a pre-tax return on assets (year to date) of 1.08 percent. In Mississippi, the bank has locations in Flowood, Ridgeland, Madison and Oxford. More information can be found on its web site,


Louisiana bank eyeing expansion into Mississippi NATCHEZ — Vidalia, La.-based Delta Bank has filed applications to the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions and FDIC to open a fullservice branch in Natchez. The branch is expected to open in the next three months pending regulatory approvals and will offer a full line of financial products and services. The Natchez branch will be located at 507 John R. Junkin Drive. Leading the bank’s Natchez market will be Natchez resident Will Devening. Ed Haworth, president and CEO of Delta Bank, said, “For four decades, Delta Bank has provided outstanding personalized service throughout the Miss-Lou. We want to acknowledge our growing Mississippi customer base by establishing a branch in Natchez.” Devening has 10 years of banking experience and recently joined Delta Bank from Regions Bank. He is incoming president of the Natchez Rotary Club, which named him a Paul Harris Fellow, chairman of Trinity Episcopal Day School, and a member of the vestry at Trinity Episcopal Church. Delta Bank, with total assets of $245 million at Dec. 31, 2013, operates one location in each of the following Louisiana communities: Vidalia, Ferriday, Tallulah and Lake Providence.


Neel-Schaffer announces Twedt as vice president JACKSON — Steve Twedt, PE, has been promoted to Vice President in charge of Neel-Schaffer’s South Mississippi operation. A native of South Mississippi, Twedt, a Mississippi State graduate, joined NeelSchaffer in 2010 as area manager and works out of the Biloxi office, coordinating work among the NeelSchaffer offices in Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Laurel and Pascagoula. Prior to joining Neel-Schaffer, Twedt worked for 23 years as an engineer with the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Twedt’s work includes, state, county and municipal transportation projects throughout South Mississippi, aviation projects at the Gulfport/Biloxi Regional Airport, environmental and civil design, and more. — from staff and MBJ wire services


Stennis project to produce ‘roadmap’ for STEM jobs With high-tech science and technology jobs expected to grow at a faster pace nationwide than other occupations, South Mississippi is embarking on a key project that should help ensure it can satisfy the growing need. In it’s 20th year of operation, the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MSET) is conducting a unique project that will result in a “roadmap” of STEM employment in South Mississippi, starting with a survey of Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. The project is funded by a $100,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration with a match of nearly $30,000 from MSET. The goal of the South Mississippi STEM Project (SMSP) is to identify jobs and support career opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), said Charlie Beasley, MSET’s president and CEO. The work of collecting data and developing a plan to ensure local resources are supportive of current and future STEM needs will conclude in September. “The South Mississippi STEM Project is an opportunity for MSET to play a unique role in developing and enhancing the STEM environment for this region of our state,” said Dr. William Lewis, president of Pearl River Community College and chairman of the MSET board. “In capturing this unique data, MSET will serve as a repository of information that will be critical for any individual, group or agency that needs assistance with obtaining information specific to STEM activities and opportunities in south Mississippi. It is our hope that in serving in this special capacity we will be servicing a very special need that will help grow the economy of this region of our state,” he said.

The right place Stennis, the NASA-managed hub for science and technology focused federal and state agencies, is the springboard for the project that will extend throughout South Mississippi. Beasley said Stennis is a major STEM economic engine for the region, with more than 40 government and military agencies and organizations focused on high-tech missions. Indeed, Stennis is where hundreds of scientists and technicians work in fields as varied as rocket propulsion, geospatial technologies and environmental science. Universities from multiple states have operations at Stennis, which also houses one of the world’s largest supercomputers and a major national data center. It’s where rocket systems, satellite subsystems, and jet engines are assembled or tested by companies like Aerojet Rocketdyne, Lockheed Martin, and Rolls-Royce. It’s also home of the U.S. Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, with one of the largest

concentrations of oceanographers in the world. STEM education is important not only to SSC, but to the rest of South Mississippi, the state and nation. From 2000 to 2010, the 7.9 percent growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as the 2.6 percent employment growth in nonSTEM jobs in the United States. In 2010, the nation had 7.6 million STEM workers (about 1 in 18), according to a 2011 research brief from the Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration. By 2018, STEM occupations will account for about 8.6 million jobs in the U.S., Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce projected in 2010. In a separate study in late 2011, the same center concluded that STEM is second only to healthcare as the fastest-growing occupational category in the economy. Looking ahead, STEM employment through 2018 will grow by 17 percent compared with slightly less than 10 percent growth for non-STEM occupations. The MSET study should help South Mississippi satisfy its future needs. And MSET may be just the right organization to handle it. Headquartered in the 56,000 square-foot Mississippi Technology Transfer Center, MSET is a nonprofit established in 1994 to create high-wage, high-skill jobs as a business incubator and technology transfer office.

Joint effort A joint effort of the Mississippi Development Authority, NASA and the state’s universities, it was primarily designed to leverage federal science and technology assets for business and job growth throughout Mississippi. With this role comes the responsibility first given to MSET by the state Legislature and the late Gov. Kirk Fordice in the mid1990s to operate the state’s Mississippi Technology Transfer Office. In this capacity, MSET is a clearinghouse where research at Stennis can be converted into products and services for the general public and where companies can access unique laboratory services. As a business incubator, MSET provides an environment where start-ups stand a better chance at surviving and thriving through providing business and technology-related services. Special services are also available to large businesses or companies located in other parts of the state or region, including guidance on how companies and entrepreneurs can do business with Stennis entities. And with economic development a key result of MSET’s work, the study makes sense. “The STEM project’s base and focus is Stennis,

but we will also reach out to the lower 15 counties in Mississippi where a good portion of the Stennis economic impact is felt and where other important STEM activities are located,” Beasley said. Beasley, whose background is in economic development, is the project manager. Consultants Laurie Jugan and Tim Brogdon are project analysts for the grant. Jugan, who represents client and technology transfer services for MSET, is a scientist and Brogdon is an engineer and president of PSCI, an MSET incubator company that provides engineering, technology development and consulting primarily to NASA and defense agencies at Stennis. Beasley said the work will involve mainly data gathering and interviewing STEM employers. A comprehensive questionnaire will be the basis for the information collected. “We will interview all STEM employers including NASA and the major agencies, commercial companies and contractors at Stennis,” he said. Data also will be collected from community colleges and universities, economic development organizations, small business service providers and other local resources that support the creation of STEM careers and success of STEM-based industry. Beasley said the project will be looking for trends in hiring. “We are not sure what we will ultimately identify from it. We may find gaps between capabilities we have now in the operations that rely on STEM talent versus the needs these organizations are anticipating for the future,” said Beasley.

STEM opportunities One question they intend to answer is, are there enough STEM job opportunities for college graduates or to draw professionals to work in Mississippi? “All of us feel strongly,” said Brogdon, “that we want to make sure if a young STEM professional wants to work here in Mississippi they can do it and make sure employers know if they have opportunities for STEM professionals that we would like them to look locally.” The study will help identify workforce needs, gaps in communication and any challenges employers may be facing in the hiring process such See STEM, Page 19

February 28 2014


Mississippi Business Journal




No decision yet by Childers on upcoming Senate race By Bobby Harrison JACKSON — Former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, a Booneville Democrat, has yet to decide whether he will enter the race for U.S. Senate. “I have not made a decision,” was the only response from the former Prentiss County chancery clerk recently when asked whether he would enter the fray to replace veteran U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. The Republican Cochran, 76, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978, is facing a primary challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, who has strong backing from various Tea Party-related groups. In past elections, Democrats have been reluctant to challenge the popular Cochran. But some believe Cochran could face a challenge from McDaniel in

the more conservative Republican primary that will be held June 3. At the very least the Republican primary is expected to be contentious. Privately, Democrats believe they would have a better chance of victory in the November general election against McDaniel. Many believe Childers is the likely candidate, and he acknowledged he would have to decide soon since the qualifying deadline is March 1. “I feel confident we will have a competitive candidate in the U.S. Senate race,” Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole said Friday. Cole would not say who that candidate might be. Vicksburg resident Bill Marcy, who has run unsuccessfully in two elections as a Republican for Congress, has said he is switching parties to run for the U.S. Senate. It is anticipated that Democrats will try to field a candidate other

assurance research. MSU is the only institution of higher education in the state to hold all three designations.


Gaming company shuffles leadership at three casinos AROUND MISSISSIPPI — Penn National Gaming Inc. has made leadership changes at its three Mississippi properties. Effective next month, Steve Lambert, acting general manager of Hollywood Casino Perryville (now owned and operated by Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc.) since July 2013, has been named general manager of Hollywood Casino Tunica. In addition, under a change in leadership structure for the company’s properties in the Gulf Coast region, Chett Harrison, general manager of Hollywood Casino Bay St. Louis since May 2010, will add the role of general manager of Boomtown Casino Biloxi, effective April 2014, replacing the retiring Kees Eder. Both appointments are subject to customary regulatory approvals. Lambert, a 33-year veteran of the gaming industry, has been with Penn National Gaming since June 2005 when he joined the company as assistant general manager of Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway in Bangor during the property’s successful start-up phase. In August 2011, he became vice president of operations at Bullwhackers Casino and served in that role until the property’s sale in July 2013. Prior to joining Penn, Lambert served as senior vice president of operations at Casino Nova Scotia from May 1995 to June 2005 and in a variety of key operational leadership roles for both Sands and Bally’s Park Place in Atlantic City as well as at the Aruba Concord Casino in Aruba. He holds an A.A.S. in general technology. Harrison joined the company in January 2001 as director of marketing at Boomtown Biloxi and was first promoted to assistant general manager in August 2006 before being named general manager in January 2007. He was named General Manager of Hollywood Casino Bay St. Louis in May 2010 where he has served since. Prior to joining Penn, he spent over six years at the Copa Casino in Gulfport, including five years as senior marketing manager. During that time, he was also responsible for similar duties at the affiliated Sands Regency Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nev. Harrison also served for a year as director of marketing at the Palace Casino Resort and Hotel in Biloxi. He holds a B.S. in advertising from the University of Southern Mississippi.

than Marcy. But state Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, viewed as a possible candidate, has indicated he will not run for the national post. Both Attorney Childers General Jim Hood and Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley already have removed their names from consideration. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is a possibility, but not likely. Childers served a little more than one term in the House, being elected in first a special election and then the regular election. He was defeated two years later by state Sen. Alan Nunnelee as part of the strong national showing for Republicans in the 2010 mid-term elections.


Enerkem biofuel plant still on the drawing board


MSU makes top three in cybersecurity ranking STARKVILLE — According to a Hewlett Packardsponsored survey by the Ponemon Institute, Mississippi State University’s cybersecurity courses and degree programs rank among the top three for academic excellence and practical relevance. Only the University of Texas at San Antonio and Norwich University in Northfield, Vt., ranked higher at first and second, respectively. Syracuse University in New York state and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh tied for fourth place, while Purdue University in Indiana was fifth. Last year, the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command designated MSU’s cyberoperations program as a center of academic excellence for providing top-flight informationassurance education and research programs. The university also holds national CAE designations in information assurance education and in information


PONTOTOC – Five years have passed, and a planned $100 million ethanol plant is no closer to being built. Little has changed from a year ago, when company officials said they were committed to the project and were working to “move the project forward.” For now, though, Enerkem Mississippi Biofuels is stuck in park. Enerkem Inc., EMB’s Canadian-based company, said last March said it expected construction to begin in the second half of 2013. That hasn’t happened. And EMB’s office has closed, although the company is paying its bills. “They still own the project site, making payments on the local office,” said Ronnie Bell of Three Rivers Planning and Development District, which is the administrator of Three Rivers Regional Solid Waste Authority. Enerkem plans to convert municipal solid waste from the Three Rivers Landfill in Pontotoc, which is overseen by the Authority. As for when plant construction will begin, an answer remains elusive. “At this stage, we are not in a position to confirm a date for the beginning of construction,” said

Continued from Page 18

as compensation, benefits and quality of life issues, “typical areas in which STEM professionals may have certain demands,” Beasley said. Jugan said the project has two overarching benefits. One is finding out what employers are looking for in a job candidate other than a degree. She said attributes such as special skills or experience gained during an internship can help a candidate get hired. “Our job is to ferret out other desirable training, knowledge or skills so students going into STEM careers are as prepared as they can be,” she said. The second benefit from the STEM project will be identifying assets in the region that will help attract high tech workers. “A STEM professional is going to expect a certain quality of life and educational opportunities in an area,” she said.

Marie-Helene Labrie, Enerkem’s vice president of government affairs and communication. If and when construction does start, it will take about 18 months to complete. Bell said there’s no reason to be alarmed at the slow pace of the project, which admittedly is behind schedule. “We’re under confidentiality agreements with the company, but I can say that we continue to fully support the project,” he said. “They are still seeking equity for several projects, including Pontotoc.”


MegaGate rolls out new services for SMBs HATTIESBURG — Telecommunications provider MegaGate Broadband Inc. has launched two new business services that target the small and medium business (SMB) sector throughout Mississippi. Hosted Voice is a hosted IP business phone service that provides SMBs with a complete communications solution. This bundled system includes unlimited long-distance, the new line of Polycom VVX phones, and all the equipment need to power the system. One of the new productivity tools is MegaGate Mobility, an option that marries the features of Hosted Voice to a user’s computer, smart phone or tablet. MegaGate Mobility includes an application for Windows, MAC OS X, Android and iOS devices that integrates any or all of these devices into the business communications landscape. — from staff and MBJ wire services

Any deficiencies found can be addressed “so we can position the local area to be more attractive to STEM professionals.” STEM industries and the jobs they create have a significant economic impact in Mississippi, said Skip Scaggs, a long-time MSET board member and formerly of the Mississippi Development Authority. “As companies seek to improve productivity, they are doing it through technology-laden investments that demand more than a strong back, but a strong mind. Paralleling the increase in investment is the company’s need to pay for the elevated skill levels through higher wages for employees. The more emphasis we can place on STEM education the better we are serving our two customer groups: students and their future employers,” Scaggs said.

— Lisa Monti with permission from the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology at the Stennis Space Center

20 I Mississippi Business Journal I February 28 2014 TAXES

Equifax seeks U.S. Supreme Court review of tax ruling by state’s high court » Trials promised to out-of-state taxpayers are "a charade en route to an affirmation of the [DOR's] actions," Equifax claims




Atlanta’s Equifax Credit Services is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Mississippi Supreme Court ruling that last summer went in favor of the state Department of Revenue and bumped Equifax’s annual tax bill from zero to more than $700,000. In a Feb. 19 petition for certiorari, Equifax argues that the Mississippi tax appeals process all but ensures that assessments and penalties imposed by the Department of Revenue will be upheld.

The Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi Manufactures Association and a host of other state business groups have initiated a campaign they say is aimed at “reining in the state Department of Revenue.” The campaign is an attempt to increase legislative support for a pair of House and Senate bills, both of which have passed their respective bodies, that force the DOR to present “clear and convincing” evidence whenever it chooses to apply a non-standard tax apportionment method to businesses, especially ones based out of state. The legislation would also require the taxpayer to present the same level of evidence if it seeks to be taxed in a non-statutorily approved manner. The legislative measures seek to limit the effects of a Mississippi Supreme Court ruling last summer that upheld applying a market-based tax apportionment method to determine the tax bill of Equifax Credit Information Service of Atlanta. The market-based method calculated the company’s taxes based on revenue earned in Mississippi, thus increasing its tax liability from zero to over $700,000. In a headline Monday on an MEC flier advertising a Wednesday morning legislative scrambler, the state chamber of commerce sought to rally members to support the legislation. “MEC Members Raising Their Voices in Support of Reining in the MS Department of Revenue,” the headline read and urged members to “raise their voices” electronically at website The link leads to an MEC web address, where visitors are told: “Mississippi is at a tipping point and we must return fairness to the tax administration process in order maintain our economic competitiveness. You can help us keep this momentum going by asking legislators to support the Mississippi Taxpayer Fairness Act, as outlined in Senate Bill 2487 and House Bill 799. Fill out the form below and your response will be included in bound volumes — along with responses from hundreds of other business leaders from around the state — and presented to legislators.” In addition to the MEC and Manufacturers Association, the web site lists these supporters: » Council of State Taxation » Mississippi Society of CPAs » Mississippi Bar Taxation Section » Mississippi Bankers Association

Equifax argues that the Mississippi tax appeals process all but ensures that DOR’s assessment and penalties will stand. Trials promised to out-of-state taxpayers are "a charade en route to an affirmation of the (DOR's) actions," Equifax claimed in a filing by the Atlantabased law firm of Alston & Bird. Equifax said the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision effectively denied it a Chancery Court trial. In the earlier Chancery trial, the court applied a standard by which the DOR received special deference based on a 1987 state Supreme Court ruling. In that ruling, the deferential standard requires that assessments be upheld unless the assessment is so wrong as to ne “arbitrary and capricious.” Equifax argues that burden deprived it of the chance to convince the Chancery judge of the incorrectness of the tax assessment based on the facts. In a June 2012 Baker Donelson blog after the Chancery Court sided with the DOR, the firm said the limited review granted Equifax imposed a concept See

EQUIFAX, Page 23

» National Federation of Independent Business » Mississippi Poultry Association » Mississippi Petroleum Marketers » Mississippi Railroad Association Kathy Waterbury, a longtime spokeswoman for the DOR who spends a good part of the legislative session at the Capitol, said the MEC campaign is news to her. “I have not heard about these tactics,” she said late Tuesday afternoon. She said the MEC met with representatives of the MEC to discuss the bills but have not done so since reverse repealers were added to the measures. The repealers give each body another chance to kill the legislation before a final version is sent to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature. The MEC claims the DOR’s is greatly exaggerating in projecting a more than $300 million loss to the state treasury through the changes proposedinthebills.SeniorvicepresidentandCOOScottWallerputthe cost at “a few million dollars” in an interview last week. Waterbury said all of the cost projections have firm data and documentation to support them. The calculations of $7 million in revenue losses after July 1 this year and $25 million next year are based on just the number of business taxpayers that have asked the DOR to apply the alternative tax method to their tax bills. Under the proposed changes, the taxpayer businesses would have to present clear and convincing evidence that an alternate apportionment method should apply. Waller especially took exception to the DOR’s projection that requiring the use of certified mailings would cost the agency $100 million a year. However, Waterbury said the projection is based on the 180,000 tax statements the DOR averages sending out after taxpayer audits. Each certified mailing is $7. The next problem, Waterbury said, is that taxpayers refuse to accept the certified mailings, thus forcing the DOR to send it agents or hired contractors out to find them to personally serve them. “If we could put ‘Publisher’s Clearing House’ on our envelopes, that might change things,” she said. DOR data shows that each of its agents collects an average $1,007 an hour in delinquent taxes. So diverting them to hunt down taxpayers who refuse certified mail will cause the state to lose $1,007 an hour in collected taxes. Many of the searches for multistate taxpayers would force agents to go out of state or, possibly, out of the country. “And what happens when that taxpayer is not a person but a corporation?” Waterbury asked. In that instance, you don’t know whom to serve, she said.


February 28, 2014

Miller returns to MC

BNI chapter chooses Sivak

Waller, Powell promoted

Mississippi College graduate Summerann Miller returned to her alma mater in early January to join the legal staff of the university’s Office of Advancement. A Florida native, Miller fills the new position of coordinator of foundations and legal compliance on the Clinton campus. The 28year-old Clinton resident received her bachelor’s in business administration from Mississippi College in 2007 and earned her Miller MBA from MC in 2009. Miller is a 2011 graduate of the Mississippi College School of Law. She worked at Greenwood-based Viking Range before joining the university’s advancement staff.

BNI Mississippi has named Ron Sivak as area director consultant. Sivak will support BNI chapters in the southern Mississippi region including the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Hattiesburg areas. Over the last five years, he has served as a BNI ambassador and most recently as director consultant for the Mississippi Gulf Coast region and Mobile, Ala. Sivak is a senior account executive with Employee Liability Sivak Management.

The Mississippi Economic Council has made two key promotions. Scott Waller is now executive vice president and COO after serving MEC as senior vice president, public affairs. A Shubuta native, Waller joined MEC in 2006, where he oversaw public affairs, policy and communications. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University, and graduated from the Institute of Organizational Management in 2011. Prior to MEC, Waller enjoyed Powell a 20-year career as a newspaper journalist, including serving as business editor of the ClarionLedger in Jackson and sports editor for the Commercial Dispatch in Columbus. Vickie Powell is now senior vice president, foundations. She joined MEC in 2006 as program manager, later serving as vice president, foundation programs. Waller Her work experience includes more than 15 years in human resources, business development and corporate affairs. Powell is a 1980 graduate of Jackson State University with a degree in mass communication. She is a native of Jasper County.

Baker named principal Roxie Baker, who has been serving as the interim principal at Gary Road Intermediate School in Hinds County since October 2013, has been recommended as head principal. Baker earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Mississippi University for Women (MUW) followed by two master degrees in reading and math and educational leadership from Walden University and an educational specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from Capella University in 2012. Baker was certified as a national board certified teacher in 2009. Baker has 10 years of educational experience. She began her career at Gary Road Elementary teaching second grade in 2004. In 2008, she transitioned as a third-fifth grade intervention specialist at Gary Road Intermediate School and in 2009 was named assistant principal. Baker is married to Marco Baker. They are the parents of two boys, Marco II and Matthew.

Firm adds Addison, Bond Ross & Yerger Insurance has added Michael Addison and Davis Bond as the newest members of its Future Partner Group. Addison has a background in home repair and remodeling and was a member of the Associated Builders and Contractors. Most recently, he helped Mid-South Auto Supply Inc. to become a leader in outside sales for the Memphis Distribution Center for NAPA auto parts. Addison is a gradu- Addison ate of the University of Mississippi with a bachelor of business administration degree. Bond, also a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a bachelor of business administration, worked in product development and marketing for Mueller Industries for a couple of years. Seven years ago he moved to pharmaceutical sales where he Bond earned a number of sales awards and became a diabetes care specialist.

TEC appoints Crawford, Pinson TEC has appointed Tony Crawford as information technology specialist. Crawford attended Holmes Community College where he studied information technologies. He brings with him several years of experience in the technology industry. Crawford currently resides in Forest with his wife, Tracy, and children. TEC has also appointed Bill Pinson as director of sales. Pinson brings with him several years of experience in the telecom industry. He currently resides in Crystal Springs with his wife, Vanessa, and their three children.


Levens made Fellow


Self dies at 84 Jack B. Self, a long-time executive with CalMaine Foods Inc., has died. He was 84. Self served as the company’s vice president of operations-production, and had been an employee of Cal-Maine Foods since 1968. Dolph Baker, chairman, president and CEO of CalMaine, said, “He has been a valued member of the Cal-Maine Foods family for over 46 years and played an important role in the company’s growth and development. More importantly, Jack served as a great mentor and teacher to many of us throughout the company. He was also well respected in our industry and has built a legacy that will survive him in the years to come.”

Adkins to manage division Chip Adkins has joined Renasant Bank Mortgage as eastern divisional manager. Prior to joining Renasant, Adkins served as a regional manager of the Southeast for a large regional mortgage company. He brings over 20 years of mortgage and financial services experience. Adkins

The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) has named Jerry L. Levens, CPA, CFE, of Gulfport, as a NACD Fellow, the highest level of credentialing for corporate directors and corporate governance professionals. Levens currently serves as a director on the board of Hancock Holding Company, parent company of Hancock Bank and Whitney Bank. In addition, he serves as chairman of the board of di- Levens rectors for Infinity Science Center Inc., chairman of the board for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce Foundation Inc., and on the Board of Commissioners of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Drivers earn recognition Seventeen UPS drivers from Mississippi are among 1,519 newly inducted worldwide into the Circle of Honor, an honorary organization for UPS drivers who have achieved 25 or more years of accident-free driving. The new Circle of Honor members are: Terrell Bang of Pass Christian; Andrew Carpenter of Pascagoula; Tyrone Clark of Terry; Lenwood Gladney of Eupora; David Harrison of Florence; Jessie Johnson Jr. of Brandon; Michael McGregor of Pontotoc; Vance Miller of Toomsuba; Michael Moore of Booneville; Christopher Ouille of Biloxi; Rodney Owens of Holly Springs; Robert Raggio Jr. of Hernando; Richard Smith of Biloxi; Lester Thompson III of Biloxi; Michael Tucker of Madison; Donnie West of Baldwyn; and Gary Wooten of Olive Branch.


Mississippi Business Journal



Dale staffers make news Marshall Graves, AIA, of Dale Partners Architects, P.A. recently passed his architectural registration exams and is now a licensed architect in the state of Mississippi. Graves is based in the Jackson office and has been employed Graves at Dale Partners for eight years. He received his bachelor degree in architecture from Mississippi State University in 2004. The firm also announced that Neil Polen, Assoc. AIA, LEED Green Associate, Polen and Charlie Stewart, Assoc. AIA, have joined the firm as intern architects. Polen joins the Jackson office and has over four years of experience. He is a LEED green associate as designated by the United States Green Building Council. Stew- Stewart art joins the Biloxi office and brings over six years of experience to his position. Both Polen and Stewart are associate members of the American Institute of Architects.

Cutler, Manning get new roles Airbus Helicopters Inc. has restructured its senior leadership team. Peter Cutler was named vice president of customer support. Cutler, who has more than 30 years of experience in the helicopter industry serving the military aviation segment, will continue in his current role as vice president of government programs, a position he has held since 2011. Treg Manning is now vice president of sales and marketing. Manning, who has more than 20 years of experience in the aviation industry, has been vice president of commercial sales since 2011.

M’Prints promotes Lockhart To meet the growing demand for the M’Prints Online Market, M’Prints Promotional Products has promoted Amanda Lockhart to online market coordinator. Lockhart came to M’Prints in the summer of 2013 with years of customer service experience, including being the shipping manager at the Sewing and Vacuum Center. Lockhart currently resides in Meridian with her husband, Ben, and their threeyear-old daughter, June.


22 I Mississippi Business Journal I February 28, 2014

Sullivan receives award

le B Bu ss un si th dl nes an es s $ 75 for /m o.

Rani Warsi Sullivan, a Mississippi State University associate professor of aerospace engineering, has been named the 2014 Diversity Educator of the Year by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. Threadgill, who represents MSU's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, received the Diversity Award for Excellence, along with eight honorees from the state's Sullivan other institutions of higher learning. Sullivan is an academic advisor for senior aerospace students in MSU's James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. She is an advisory board member of the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi and since 2004 has served as the faculty advisor for the internationally diverse Muslim Student Association. In 2013, she received MSU's faculty diversity award from the President's Commission on the Status of Minorities. An aerospace engineering doctoral graduate of Mississippi State, Sullivan also received her master's degree in engineering mechanics and her undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from MSU. Prior to joining the faculty she spent 13 years as a research engineer at MSU's Raspet Flight Research Laboratory where she participated in projects such as the prototype development of the all-composite Honda business jet and the Ultralight Sensor Platform project which involved the structural testing of a composite unmanned aerial aircraft. In 2010, Sullivan

earned a NASA Summer Faculty Fellowship at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a member of the Bagley College of Engineering's Academy of Distinguished Teachers, a 2012 recipient of the Hearin Faculty Excellence Award and a 2010 and 2009 recipient of a Hearin State Pride award. In 2012, she was selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering's Frontiers of Engineering Education symposium and voted Professor of the Year in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in 2011.

Firm adds Werner Mary C. Werner, of Saltillo, has joined the business development staff of Robinson & Associates Inc. A native of Boston, she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Stonehill College in North Easton, Mass. She taught English for 11 years in Cambridge. Werner is on the board of directors of North Mississippi Medical Center, is a member and past chairman of Community Development Foundation, serves Werner as a Small Business Association Women in Business Champion and is past president of Gardner-Simmons Home for Girls. Werner and her husband, Charles, previously owned Tupelo Manufacturing Company.

Wire your business for success


Miller made VP at Regions

TEC promotes Frye, Crose

Regions Bank has named Andy Miller vice president, consumer sales manager in Jackson. Miller previously served as Regions' Northeast Louisiana sales manager in West Monroe. Prior to working in Louisiana, he managed various branch locations in Rankin County. Miller was born and raised in Jackson and holds a bachelor's degree from Belhaven University. He is also a recent graduate Miller of Leadership Rankin.

TEC has promoted Timothy Frye to senior operations analyst at TEC in Jackson. Frye joined the company in September 2012, and he currently resides in Flowood. TEC has also promoted Kenith Crose to senior operations analyst in Jackson. Crose joined the company in October 2012. He currently resides in Jackson.


Association taps Day Kevin Day, a geographic information systems specialist and planning designer at Waggoner Engineering, has been elected treasurer of the Association of Floodplain Managers of Mississippi. Day, who has been with Waggoner since 2006, currently works as a planning and landscape designer for the firm, and also specializes in sustainability design and GIS. Prior to joining Waggoner, he served for 23 years as lead designer for a nationally recognized construction firm with projects throughout the U.S. and Australia.




For announcements in Newsmakers; Contact: Wally Northway (601) 364-1016 •




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February 28 2014


Mississippi Business Journal




White House hotel making comeback in Biloxi By LISA MONTI I CONTRIBUTOR

Photo from

One of the Gulf Coast’s flagship beachfront hotels is being restored from top to bottom and its long awaited reopening is set for mid summer. The historic White House Hotel, which sat empty for years, dates back to the 1890s and is the last of Biloxi’s popular 1920s era tourist hotels that included the Edgewater Gulf Hotel and Tivoli Hotel. It was bought last year by Barrington Development, LLC of Ridgeland and the developers are reportedly spending several million dollars to restore the property which is near the U.S. 90 entrance to Keesler Air Force Base. “We have already done all the electrical and plumbing and just passed inspection,” said Cono Caranna, general manager and co-owner of the hotel’s restaurant. Drywall work is being done on the 76 rooms and suites and the hotel’s original facade will be painted signature white starting this week. The hotel’s fate was touch-and-go for years as it fell into disrepair. Caranna said after the hotel made the city’s top 10 endangered building list, it got historic landmark status and became eligible for tax credits. Biloxi businessman Jimmy Love bought the hotel in 1989 and began restoration in 1999 but the project was thwarted by setbacks, including the economic downturn. The property began as the home of Walter White, a Coast judge, and his family.


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unique to appeals courts rather than trial courts. The Mississippi Court of Appeals sided with Equifax, which led to the DOR appeal to the state Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the prospect of a U.S. Supreme Court review of the ruling which upheld the authority of the DOR to apply a non-statutory revenue-based tax apportionment method has put a national spotlight on Mississippi. A Supreme Court refusal to review the case or a ruling affirming the Mississippi high court’s finding could provide taxing entities around the country grounds for invoking their own alternative methods of tax apportionment. At the Mississippi Capitol, an overwhelming majority of Mississippi’s legislators worry that the tax ruling portrays Mississippi as unfriendly to multistate businesses. Both houses have passed legislation that requires the DOR to provide a “clear and convincing” need before going outside the state’s statutorily authorized “cost-performance” method of

When White later expanded his home, he enlisted the help of the architect who designed the house at Bellingrath Gardens in Alabama. The reopened hotel will feature a fine dining restaurant named for White’s wife, Cora. Bill Yockey, co-owner and general manager of the 100-seat restaurant, said besides steaks, the menu will feature Coast favorites such as fresh seafood. Yockey, a former Ruth’s Chris general manager, promises “a beautiful room” and dishes featured “lots of local ingredients” There also will be a third-floor balcony bar outfitted with sectional sofas and fire pits so patrons can take in views of the Gulf. Caranna, who has a casino and hotel background, said the swimming pool, covered up after Hurricane Katrina, will also be added to the hotel’s amenities list, in-

apportionment. Before this session, the DOR tried unsuccessfully for two consecutive sessions to persuade the Legislature to statutorily authorize a market-based tax standard for multistate service providers. That method would allow the multistate businesses’ taxes to be based on revenues earned in the state. Current statutes authorize the cost of performance method by which the sale of services are sourced to the state where most of the activity and costs were born. For instance if a Georgia-based company such as Equifax makes 51 percent of its revenue from seals of services in Georgia and the remaining in Mississippi, it would pay taxes to Georgia and no taxes to Mississippi, according to an explanation of the “all-or-nothing’ cost-performance standard provided by the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation. Mississippi’s Department of Revenue switched to the market-based standard after concluding the state’s statutory standard would not fairly reflect Equifax’s business activity in Mississippi, which consisted of providing credit reporting services to businesses in the state.

cluding approximately 1,600-square-feet of meeting and event space. The property is non smoking The hotel and restaurant will employ 65 to 70. The restaurant will be open initially for breakfast and dinner. “There are not a lot of fine dining restaurants where you can park at the front door,” Yockey said. Nicole Gilbert, the director of events operations, said she is marketing the property for weddings, parties and other special events. Gilbert has a special attachment to the historic hotel. “My grandmother worked

there as a girl in the restaurant,” she said. “It’s really an honor for me.” Gilbert said she wants to bring back “some of the Southern traditions with a contemporary style” to events at the hotel in keeping with its history. Caranna and Yockey believe the hotel’s history, beachfront location, local connections and amenities will set it apart from other properties. “It is the only high-end, non-gaming hotel on the Coast,” Yockey said. “We have the amenities that can compete with the casino hotels.” “We can accommodate wedding from rehearsal dinners to overnight stays to the wedding itself with our own catering,” Caranna said. “You can pull up on Thursday and leave on Monday.” Since word of the reopening began to spread, Caranna and Yockey said the response has been strong. “The community is super excited about it coming back,” Caranna said. “People are stopping by and stopping us to talk about it.” Yockey said the hotel’s Facebook page had almost 1,000 ‘Likes” in less than a week.

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February 28 2014


Mississippi Business Journal



» MISSISSIPPI LEADERS by Martin Willoughby

Leading by example Drumwright gets ‘in the trenches’ with workers


work with a number of companies on creating greater employee engagement in their workforce. These companies realize that the path to success is one where employees give their discretionary effort and actually “care.” Interestingly, there are no magic bullets for creating engagement. It is far easier to bark orders and command people to do things. While that may get the job done in the short term, it is not the path to long term engagement. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.” My interviewee this week, Greg Drumwright, learned this lesson early on and applies it in his very successful business — Green King Spray Service. Greg is a native of Southaven and grew up around a family business. His parents, Bruce and Margaret Drumwright, bought a small feed mill in Olive Branch when he was four years old that manufactured livestock feed for local farms. He shared, “From a very young age, I noticed my parents leading the employees and making sacrifices so that we could stay afloat.” He continued, “They showed me you had to lead by example rather than by force. My mom and dad spent countless late nights doing monthly statements, fixing broken machinery and

Up Close With ... Greg Drumwright Title: Founder and CEO, Green King Spray Service Favorite Books: Bible (“it is my guide to how I live my life”); Good to Great by James C. Collins First Job: ”Working At Ward Feed Company in the feed mill stacking feed and loading customers.” Proudest Moment as a Leader: ”Seeing some of the people I lead step up and becoming leaders.” Hobbies/Interests: ”I am an avid outdoorsman. I love spending time waterskiing, fishing and hunting the great state of Mississippi.”

dealing with personnel issues. My observation was that they truly cared for the men and women who worked so hard to produce a good product.” In addition to his early training in the family business, Greg gained experience as a leader through DECA, a national leadership development organization for students. He participated in competitions through DECA where he won several won several state and regional titles. While in college, he wrote a business plan and developed it into

a new farm store, which he managed. Greg was also influenced by a local Southaven entrepreneur, Dale Wilson. Greg said, “I admired his leadership and ability to convert great business ideas into practical applications. He gave me several opportunities to work for him in his tent and firework business to see his vision and leadership style.” Greg started Green King Spray Service in 2001 in Olive Branch with a vision to be an industry leader in providing innovative horticulture solutions for homeowners, land-

scape companies and commercial property owners. He has built a very successful organization by focusing on developing an engaged employee base and old fashioned hard work. He noted, Martin Willoughby “I subscribe to the philosophy that I won't ask anyone who works for me to do something I am not willing to do or have not done myself. I want the people I lead to know I am in the trenches with them.” For future leaders and entrepreneurs, Greg offers some wise counsel. He said, “My advice to future leaders is to ‘suck it up... life and leadership are hard.’ I believe you have to earn the respect of the people you lead. Leadership isn't something you can learn or develop without practice, and when you fail, which you will, learn from that and don't be afraid to try again.” Greg also emphasized the importance of having a supportive and helpful spouse. He shared, “Having a person at home in which you can confide and get honest guidance from is a must. I am very lucky to have Meredith Drumwright to help me be a better leader.” I am always encouraged when I learn about leaders like Greg who understand the importance of leading by example and the true meaning of leadership is humble servant hood. Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@

“Leadership isn’t something you can learn or develop without practice...” Greg Drumwright Green King Spray Service

Another sweeping novel by Kidd that follows strong women

I » The Invention of Wings By Sue Monk Kidd Published by Viking Press $27.95 hardback

f you like big sweeping novels that follow characters over a long span of time, and if you’re a fan of Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings is for you. The author of The Secret Life of Bees has penned another bold story about strong women who won’t be held back by circumstances. The story begins in Charleston in 1803 on the eleventh birthday of Sarah Grimke, a member of a wealthy family. For her birthday Sarah is give ownership of ten-year-old Hetty “Handful” Grimke, who is to be her waiting slave. Both girls have hopes and dreams far beyond their time and life situations. Handful yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the Grimke household. Sarah has known from an early age that she is meant to do something large in the

world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. The book follows their remarkable journey over 35 years as both strive for a life of their own. They shape each other’s destinies and form a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. This rich story builds to a riveting climax with Sarah and Handful experiencing loss, sorrow, crushed hopes, betrayal and unrequited

love. However, they also find courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah, who was inspired in part by a historical figure, is ostracized in Charleston and leaves to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements. The author goes beyond the record of Sarah Grimke to flesh out her life as well as all the characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte. Kidd writes exquisitely and is not afraid to tackle unpleasant subjects while telling a story about characters we like and want to follow. As a reviewer (KW) in Square Books’ Dear Reader Newsletter said, “I was barely 50 pages in before I knew I would follow these two women through fire.” Well put!

— Lynn Lofton,

“The author of The Secret Life of Bees has penned another bold story...”

26 I Mississippi Business Journal I February 28 2014 THE SPIN CYCLE

Under Armor got caught with its pants down he Winter Olympics was supposed to put Under Armour on the branding podium, but instead the fiasco with the U.S. speed skating team unis flushed it down the half pipe faster than you can say Shawn White. For this venerable sports apparel brand, the games became a global wardrobe malfunction that made us all forget Janet Jackson, for at least a while, in the pantheon of sports fumbles. Under Armour unfortunately became a scapegoat for all the bad things that went wrong with an American speed skating team projected to win 10 medals, but came up mostly empty handed. What started off as a spectacular sports bonanza quickly lost its footing, er, skating. In the midst of the Olympics, a small handful of people close to the U.S. team starting blaming the slow times on Under Armour’s supposedly hightech suits. But that argument was nullified when several skaters reverted to their old uniforms and still failed to earn a medal. The events put Under Armour in a nowin situation. If Under Armour vehemently defended its reputation as a leader in sports-


related technology, it would have had to discredit high-profile athletes, a group that is simultaneously Under Armour’s target market and most valuable endorsers. But if Under Armour said nothing — or, even worse, if its uniforms were shown to be partially responsible for the skaters’ poor times — then its value proposition takes a huge blow on a world stage. The blame on Under Armour — while possibly invalid — is glaring considering how the company touted the advanced technology of the suit it was providing the U.S. speed skating team. The suit, called Mach 39, was developed in conjunction with Lockheed Martin during a two-year period. Part of the research and development involved testing Mach 39 in wind tunnels. Marketing literature for the suit called it “the fastest speedskating skin in the world.” It didn’t help that Nike, a fierce competitor, was visible at the Olympics: Its signature swoosh stitched on the jerseys for the U.S. men’s ice hockey team, and other competitors. While the initial slip-up caught Under Armor with its pants down in the glare of public opinion, the bad press shouldn’t have a

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It didn’t help that Nike, a fierce competitor, was visible at the Olympics. lasting effect on the company’s sterling image. To be totally objective, the Sochi games were not a total wash for Under Armour. Other Olympic teams sporting Under Armour — the U.S. bobsled and skeleton teams and Canada’s snowboard team — all did well at the games. In fact, the American bobsled team notched a bronze medal in the suits — and the U.S. skeleton and Canadian snowboard teams each won a bronze and silver. So there was definitely a silver lining to the growing clouds of crisis. Another dilemma that forced the brand on a steep downhill slope was the fact that its biggest star was on the sidelines. Under Armour also has a deep and meaningful relationship with skier Lindsey Vonn, a twotime Olympic medalist who is arguably the company's most recognizable Winter Games athlete. But Vonn injured her right knee in November, costing her a shot at competing in Sochi. Yet in the face of this near naked negativity, it seems the Under Armour brand remained strong — and made many of the right PR moves. Here’s how they shifted into Olympic reputation repair — and how they must continue even after the Olympics: • They didn’t blame the skaters. The skaters can point all the fingers they want, but it was critical for Under Armour not to. Instead, the brand continued a strategy of refusing to react defensively. • Stayed helpful. In the midst of the hubbub, Under Armour continued to consult on the ground. The brand made it clear that it would help the Olympic speedskating team and all the other teams that donned its sleek duds. Acting helpful, and becoming part of the solution, is always great crisis communications. • Kept the CEO engaged — but not overly so. For a crisis like this, CEO Kevin Plank responded when called upon, striking the right tone and stride during the suit-gate. Let’s face it, Under Armour had a great deal of positive PR capital to spend given the company’s tremendous success story. • Context, context … context. The uniform issue didn’t involve a mainstream sport like football or soccer, which account for the bulk of Under Armour's sales

• Go back to the lab. When the glare of the spotlight is off of Under Armour, it must go back to lab and look at the uniforms under a microscope — and possibly have a third party reTodd Smith view them for additional credibility. Then march out the solution for the next big competition. • Brag less. Under Armour's big mistake was hyping the outfit as the "fastest speedskating outfit in the world,” which set it up for disaster if something ever went wrong, as it did in Sochi. It will be interesting to see how the controversy effects U.S. Speedskating, which leans heavily on sponsorship agreements for their financial benefit and the wide-ranging exposure they give the sport. U.S. Speedskating claimed total revenue of more than $4 million in 2013. Most of its revenue, more than $3 million, comes from external fundraising, but nearly half a million dollars came from marketing sponsorships like the one from Under Armour. By tying its organization with a company of Under Armour's stature gave U.S. Speedskating not just visibility but credibility. The partnership connects the organization with one of the most popular apparel companies in the world. Sugar Coated, Caffeine-Drenched Mic | Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme takes the cake — and the Mic — to a whole new level. Best known for their fluffy, sugary, freshly made, confectionary bliss, they are now making a play for another morning rite of passage, coffee! Now that bold beacon beckoning in the sky offers a donut slathered with mocha drizzle and “coffee Kreme” on the outside, complete with mocha filling. It didn’t stop there with the coffee theme. It’s also peddling bottled coffee, meant to compete with Starbucks’ bottled Frappuccino line of highly portable chilled espresso drinks — now available at select Walmart stores. Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising — and those who don’t. Stay tuned — and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a fullservice branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


February 28, 2014


Mississippi Business Journal




Good to Great. Are you “good” or maybe slightly below?


im Collins immortal business bestseller Good to Great created a revolution in many businesses and an explosion in book sales. The book was adopted, adapted, taught, and implemented. In many instances, companies did go from good to great — or at least from good to very good. The key is these companies sought improvement. Self-improvement. Whether it was from within, or from an outside group of impartial experts, the concept was and is to “get better.” Great is an illusive target. Collins knew it. The concept is not complicated. It revolves around self-assessment, an agreed-upon game plan of action, measurable results, and an overall spirit that includes individual work, teamwork, and remarkable leadership. So far it’s simple. The real issue is, and the thing that has always bothered me about the book, is that the beginning premise assumes you are “good.” Most companies and their people are not. Most businesses are not. And you see them every day, going out of business. Many companies try to maximize profit by cutting costs, or worse, cutting quality, or way worse, cutting service offerings. Then customers get angry and tell other potential customers through social media, or some form of online reporting like Trip Advisor or Angie’s List. Then reputation is somewhere between questionable and lost. Followed by a downturn in business. In 1996, I wrote this customer service truth: “It

never costs as much to fix the problem as it does to not fix the problem.” Eighteen years later, that statement has never been more true. Good to Great was published in 2001 way before social media dominated the scene. Companies no longer have to self-assess; all they have to do is go to their Facebook page where their customers have already done it. And there’s usually a huge gap between what companies and their leadership THINK they are, and what their customers SAY they are. I will always take the latter as the true picture. So the real challenge is not how you get from good to great. It’s how you get from crappy to good. Things like rundown hotels, lousy food in a restaurant, rude clerk in a retail store, long lines to be served, long waits on hold, not keeping up with technology, and poor management seem to be pervasive in our society. An easy way to begin your march up the ladder to greatness (or even just goodness) is to talk to more of your customers. Get their views both online and in person. Get video from them if you can. Create a YouTube channel that features their voices. “Voice of customer” in any format forms a clear picture of exactly where you are in their opinion, what they like, what they expect, and what they wish was better. It creates a solid foundation from which to start. What better place to start than from the customer’s perspective of what would help you get better? Oh, it’s also your reputation. And it’s also FREE! This same lesson applies to salespeople. How

“good” are you? Is “good” your starting point? If you didn’t make your sales goals last year, can you honestly say you’re good? Or would you fall just below good? Somewhere between crappy and good? Keep in mind that as I’m Jeffrey Gitomer attempting to help salespeople assess themselves, they are the lifeblood, and the cash flow, and the profit of the business. Businesses that don’t make enough sales go out of business. Were they good businesses gone bad? Were they good businesses with bad salespeople? Or were they bad businesses that failed? I’ll take the latter. And while I realize that I’m taking a superficial view, not going into detail about quality of leadership, quality of service, quality of product, employee retention, or customer retention, I maintain my premise that “voice of customer,” both internal and external, will net better truth and a better foundation than a bunch of leaders and consultants sitting around a table coming up with ideas. Many of them self-serving. Back to salespeople for a moment… There is no quick fix to get a salesperson from good to great, or from below good to above good. But there is a real answer: training. Repetitive training until the salesperson goes from understanding and willingness to application, to proficiency, and finally mastery

through daily action. Be willing to measure your results. CAUTION: Measurement isn’t: How many cold calls you made this week. Weak measurement. Don’t measure failure, measure success. Measure pipeline dollars. Measure sale to profit percentage. Measure new customers secured. Measure reorders. Make measurement a learning experience, not a punishment. Good to Great isn’t just a book and a concept; it’s also a challenge. The ultimate desired outcome, wherever you enter the process is: IMPROVEMENT. Where are YOU on that path? How big is the “room for improvement” in your world? Want to see the best online experience for repetition, mastery, and fun? Take a look at the challenge by going to and entering the word REPEAT in the GitBit box. You’ll get information, and a link. Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of twelve bestselling books including The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling. His best-selling 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling is now available as a book and an online course at For public event dates and information about training and seminars visit or email Jeffrey personally at


Good people in state are doing great things


ississippi is blessed with an incredible array of resources compared to other states in the Southeast. For one thing, we have excellent water sources. Consider the water wars that are going on among the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida, an example of too much demand and too few resources. In Mississippi, we have it all: Energy, water, some of the most productive farmland in the world, timber, a great strategic location, the appeal of the Gulf Coast for tourism, a pro-business climate, great universities, and much more. Given our relatively small population base, we have lots of room to grow in the coming years, and it stands to reason that Mississippi can expect a bright economic future. There is one other great asset that our state has to offer: Namely, people who care.

For all of the problems and challenges we face, there are many, many committed people who are working to improve things, solve problems, and help others Alan Turner to live better and more productive lives. Specifically, I’m referring to the many non-profits in Mississippi who work tirelessly to accomplish those objectives, often with very limited resources and support. In some ways, also, many of these nonprofits do what they do with little recognition for their hard work and effort. They often represent the last, best hope for people in need. They have helped to turn around many lives, saved many families from catastrophe, and have helped to correct some of our toughest challenges in the Magnolia State.

These are the folks who are truly committed to “paying it forward...” These are the folks who are truly committed to “paying it forward,” and without their efforts, life in Mississippi would be more challenging for many people. I for one truly respect the work done by many of these non-profit groups and agencies, and I’d like to do more by way of recognizing their steadfast efforts to making Mis-

sissippi a better place. To that end, I’m planning to publish an occasional profile of a worthy non-profit and the work being done by them. I have several candidates in mind, but I’d also love to hear from readers with suggestions for a great non-profit group, or even an individual, who is paying it forward, and deserves special recognition for that effort. If you have an agency , group, or individual in mind who should be recognized, please forward your suggestion to me at, along with a little background on why you feel that agency or individual should be recognized. In addition to the great natural and cultural resources mentioned above, perhaps our very best asset is human resources: good people doing great things. Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at or (601) 364-1021.


Mississippi Business Journal, MBJ, Focus, Business Woman of the Year