Page 1

Big Business MSBUSINESS.COM | JULY 30, 2021 ISSUE

VOLUME 48 • NO. 17 | 44 PAGES

Page 8

Meetings and Conventions Page 12

Small Business Page 15, 16

» Page 25 Education and Workforce Training Page 19

Pages 11, 14, 17


Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue

Ground Zero Blues Club expanding to Biloxi A


Bubba O’Keefe, executive said. “We’re proud of him and his musical tour, too. Clarksdale tourdirector of the Coahoma legacy.’’ The Clarksdale resident never strays ism hot spot County Tourism ComAt her job each day, Maie Smith far away from the music she cherspanning two mission. “We get a lot witnesses the impact of Mississippi’s ishes. Maie Smith looks forward to decades, Morof people from New blues music on people worldwide. attending the Sunflower River Blues gan Freeman’s Ground Orleans, the Coast and The group tour manager at the Delta & Gospel Festival. It’s set for a Delta Zero Blues Club will Mobile,’’ he said. The Blues Museum in Clarksdale, she Blues Museum stage August 13-14. expand with a new branch new club on the Coast, he welcomes visitors from across the Fans must wait much longer before in Biloxi. said, will bring more USA. But they’re also traveling from the Ground Zero Blues Club opens. “It will be a great folks to the region. England, Argentina and Canada to There’s no timetable yet for extenMORGAN FREEMAN addition to downtown Morgan Freeman, the educational venue at 1 Blues Alsive renovations of Biloxi’s Kress Biloxi – it can really be a bright star for whose list of notable film credits ley. “We get them from everywhere.’’ Building. The new venue will speak businesses,’’ says Adele Lyons, CEO of stretch from “Driving Miss Daisy’’ to In the “Birthplace of the Blues,’’ to the blues music history of Biloxi the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of “A Time to Kill,’’ and “Glory,’’ stays the museum is a year-round destina- dating back to the 1940s, organizers Commerce. incredibly busy. On July 12, the Mistion point, she says. say. In the fall, a lively street party The Oscar winning actor “is a great sissippi actor was filming a movie in Going to the Ground Zero Blues grand opening will showcase the ambassador to Mississippi,’’ she says. Clarksdale. “People love him,’’ O’Keefe Club is an essential part of their birth of Ground Zero. The South Mississippian applauds the Ground Zero Blues Club’s future move to a second location on the Coast. Classic rock bands and country stars often entertain at Gulf Coast casinos. There’s a jazz club in Pascagoula, live shows at Jones Park in Gulfport, the Coast Coliseum and in downtown Long Beach. But there’s next to nothing featuring the blues genre in the region. With the Ground Zero Blues Club to be constructed in a 20,000-squarefoot building once featuring music venues, that will change. Lyons believes the club will be a vital piece to enhance the city’s vibrant downtown. From the Biloxi Artist and Farmers Market to the Saenger Theater, the juke joint should attract more restaurants and retailers. It will help the District on Howard become a 24-hour downtown haven for tourism, Lyons believes. Drawing blues musicians as well as serving delicious meals to visitors, Ground Zero has been a rousing success since former Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett partnered with his friend SHUTTERSTOCK Morgan Freeman to create the enter15-years old bluesman Christone Kingfish Ingram plays at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, during The Caravan Clarksdale Blues Festival 2015. tainment business in 2001. “It’s got a nice juke joint feel,’’ says

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



Revived Port of Gulfport sitting on go



on Nass got more than a warmer climate when he traded Maine for the top job at the Port of Gulfport. He got a rebuilt and expanded 21st century port. But with that, Nass got the job of showing the

$570 million of economic federal hurrihealth. cane Katrina Nass, recovery hired money away from Mississippi the CEO spent on the post at the restoration Maine Port was a wise AuthoriJOHN NASS investment ty, takes in coastal Mississippi’s on the task with a port

Commercial Construction Public Structures Church Construction/Renovation Multifamily Construction Renovations Office Remodel & Renovations

ranked among the middle of the gulf coast’s nine deep-water ports. On his arrival as chief executive officer & executive director June 1, Nass took charge of a port that offers shippers and tenants multiple new berths,

warehousing, a chiller unit, extensive electrical conduit, reefer-container plugs, a new rail loop, cargo cranes and other operational enhancements. Calling the multi-year reconstruction “awe-in-

spiring,” Nass said the rebuild and expansion helped attract him to Gulfport. “We got the trim package,” he said, in an analogy of driving a high-performance car out of the showroom.

New chief says speed, efficiency will be port’s trademark

Roberts Builders Inc. The preferred authority in commercial construction Mississippi clients trust. Founded in 1978

Call 662-837-7835 |

Entrance at the Port of Gulfport

We Keep Your Business Going • Serving Tupelo & North Mississippi Since 1988 • Local Sales, Service, Parts, Supplies &Billing • InHouse Lease Program

Authorized dealer for

Konica Minolta

Cindy Sappington

Talmadge Ray

and their award winning Bizhub products.

Tupelo 662-842-9410 Columbus 662-687-0689

Talmadge Ray,Tupelo Cindy Sappington, Tupelo Chris Carter,Columbus


Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue

The spin cycle – america’s hottest brands list revealed

Summer is heating up, and just in time Ad Age has revealed its annual list of America’s Hottest Brands, those that are sizzling – through a resurgence of popularity, capitalizing on newfound fame or through a modern reboot of a well-loved franchise. This year’s list highlights trends that are taking our culture by storm, including a brand that could be called the poster child for

viral commerce including a and one fast-growing that went cannabis mainstream company, through are only vaccine now able marketing. to expand Some because of brands are newly refortunate laxed laws. TODD SMITH enough to And sevtake advantage of trends, eral are gaining ground such as e-commerce and because of cultural loungewear, brought on momentum and a new by the pandemic. Others, focus on Black-owned

businesses. Yet most of the brands Ad Age has picked have gone on to reach new levels of success. TikTok, which was on Ad Age’s list in 2019, went on to be crowned its Marketer of the Year, as brands from Walmart to Citi clamor to market on the channel. Peloton, which was on last year’s list, recently reported a 141% rise in quarterly sales to $1.3 billion – and shares rose 12% as a result, despite the company’s expectation of a $165 million financial hit from its treadmill recall. Zoom continues to be the platform du jour for remote workers across the country and Headspace just rolled out a new Netflix special. A pink cleaning paste that goes viral. Hospital scrubs that become the must-have outfit. And a reboot of a 1990s basketball hit that has brands clamoring for collaborations. This year’s crop of Ad Age’s America’s Hottest Brands includes 20 buzzy products, people and services that are sparking conversations on social media, at the retail checkout line and on the school playground. The list includes newcomers in niche categories, like health care uniform maker Figs and hair care brand Pattern as well as Dolly Parton, a celebrity who is so beloved she bridges America’s divisions – and sells out of ice cream in the process. Some of these brands got a leg up because of the coronavirus. NTWRK, the livestreaming app, might not be as successful if consumers haven’t been

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal




PERSPECTIVE Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue

n Page


Mississippi’s favorite issue to dominate national elections


et ready. The next national election cycle is upon us with 34 Senate seats and 435 House seats up for election. With a 50/50 split in the Senate and a 222 to 213 split in the House, control will be up for grabs in 2022. With soaring spending and related debt, continued COVID concerns, awakening inflation, surging ransomware attacks, and a myriad of economic, social, and international issues at play, what will be the critical issue? Looks like it may be Mississippi’s favorite issue – race. “Race central to Republican strategy for 2022 and beyond” was the headline to an article from terms are now regularly invoked that began: by activists, pundits and even some “With or without Donald J. elected officials….American inTrump atop the party, the Restitutions and voters, particularly publican strategy for the 2022 on the left – who have become elections and beyond virmore attuned and liberal tually assures race – and on racial issues amid the racism – will be central rise of the Black Lives to political debate for Matter movement and years to come. In an era increased attention on when every topic seems police killings of Afto turn quickly to race, rican Americans – are Republicans see this now making a similar most divisive issue as shift on other issues either political necessiinvoking equality and ty or an election-winner identity.” – including as it relates Moderate elements in to voting laws, critical race the Democratic Party may theory, big-city crime, want to focus on issues BILL CRAWFORD immigration and politlike the economy and ical correctness.” infrastructure rather than pro“The Ideas That Are Reshaping gressive positions on voting rights, the Democratic Party and Ameri- social justice, and reparations. But ca” was the headline to an article at Republicans’ clear focus may leave that began: them boxed in. “Many Americans probably don’t Lately, with school boards and know exactly what terms such as state legislatures getting involved, anti-racism, cancel culture, racial it looks like “critical race theory” equity, white privilege and systemic will be the hot button for Repubracism mean. And it’s likely even licans. fewer could explain such concepts Hmmm. What is that exactly? as woke ideology, critical race theo- Critical race theory is a 40-yearry or intersectionality. But these old theoretical approach to un-

A member of the Mississippi Press Association

132 Riverview Dr., Suite E • Flowood, MS 39232 Main: (601) 364-1000 • Fax: (601) 364-1007 E-mails:,,,, Website:

July 2021 Issue | Volume 48 , Number 17

TAMI JONES Publisher • (601) 364-1011 ROSS REILY Editor • (601) 364-1018 MARCIA THOMPSON Business Assistant • (601) 364-1044 FRANK BROWN List Researcher • (601) 364-1022 LYNN LOFTON Contributing Writer • (601) 364-1018 TED CARTER Contributing Writer • (601) 364-1018 BECKY GILLETTE Contributing Writer • (601) 364-1018 NASH NUNNERY Contributing Writer • (601) 364-1018

derstanding what its legal scholar authors saw as persistent racial inequality and racism in America. It contends that this racism has infested our legal, financial, and education systems. Its critics see it as more than a scholarly theory. A Texas Tribune article on the new state law outlawing it in public schools said, “Conservative lawmakers, commentators and parents have raised alarm that critical race theory is being used to teach children that they are racist, and that the U.S. is a racist country with irredeemable roots.” As with many things concerning race, it doesn’t really matter what critical race theory really is, but how politicians and talking heads ‘splain it to us. And it looks like hopeful politicians of all sorts will be ‘splainin’ away for the next 16 months. “And there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” – Revelation 7:9-10. » BILL CRAWFORD is a syndicated columnist from Jackson.

LISA MONTI Contributing Writer • (601) 364-1018 SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES (601) 364-1000 Mississippi Business Journal (USPS 000-222) is published

monthly with one annual issue by MSBJ 132 Riverview Dr., Suite E, Flowood, MS 39232. 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) 364-1000, Fax: (601) 364-1007, Email:, Mail: MS Business Journal Subscription Services, 132 Riverview Dr., Suite E, Flowood, MS 39232 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mississippi Business Journal, Circulation Manager, 132 Riverview Dr., Suite E, Flowood, MS 39232 To submit subscription payments: Mail: MS Business Journal Subscriptions Services, 2132 Riverview Dr., Suite E, Flowood, MS 39232. 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.


is an affiliate of Journal Publishing Company (JPC), Inc. Entire contents copyrighted © 2021 by Journal Inc. All rights reserved.


July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



Analysis: Mississippi might have to rethink Capitol statues



ississippians find unity in bragging about the state’s influence on American culture. The state prides itself on being birthplace of the blues and home of towering literary figures. Yet, even as the nation reconsiders the public display of Confederate monuments amid a reckoning over issues of racial injustice, Mississippi – a state with a 38% Black population – still represents itself inside the U.S. Capitol with still-life images of Confederates. Each state can have two figures in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall collection, and Mississippi donated bronze statues of Jefferson Davis and James Zachariah Georgein 1931. Davis served in the U.S. House and Senate from Mississippi before becoming president of the Confederacy. George was a member of Mississippi’s Secession Convention in 1861, and he signed the secession ordinance that included these words: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world.” On June 29, the Democratic-led U.S. House voted 285-120 in favor of a legislation “to remove all statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from display in the United States Capitol.” The proposal awaits a vote in the Senate. Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson is the only Black member of Mississippi’s four-person House delegation,

Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, departs the Capitol after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., appointed him to lead the new select committee to investigate the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, in Washington, Thursday, July 1, 2021. The probe will examine what went wrong around the Capitol when hundreds of supporters of then-President Donald Trump broke into the building, hunted for lawmakers and interrupted the congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

and he was the only of the four to vote in favor of mandating removal of Confederate statues. Statues “of those who served in the Confederacy or supported slavery or segregation should not have a place of honor in the U.S. Capitol – that’s why I voted to #RemoveHate today,” Thompson wrote that day on Twitter. Republican Reps. Trent Kelly and Steven Palazzo voted against the legislation. Republican Rep. Michael Guest missed the vote because a family member had died and he was delayed returning to Washington.

However, Guest said in a statement that he had voted against a similar bill last year. “I would be opposed to the federal government ordering or dictating Mississippi to remove those statues,” Guest said in the statement. Even among the states that tried to secede from the Union, Mississippi is the only with two Confederate figures in the Statuary Hall collection.One of Alabama’s statues is of a Confederate cavalry leader, “Fighting Joe” Wheeler. The other is Helen Keller, and the base of the statue includes an inscrip-

tion in Braille. One of Louisiana’s statues is of Edward Douglass White, who was a U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1894 until his death in 1921, spending his final 11 years as chief justice. The other is of former Gov. Huey P. Long. Virginia currently has one figure in Statuary Hall, and it is George Washington. In December, the state removed its statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that had stood in the nation’s Capitol for 111 years. “The Confederacy is a symbol of Virginia’s racist and divisive history, and it is past

time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion,” Virginia’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, said in a statement. Guest pointed out in his statement that the legislature of each state already has the power to decide which statues to send to the Capitol. Mississippi legislators have shown no appetite for this debate, but they took a landmark vote in June 2020 to retire the last state flag that included the Confederate battle emblem. They don’t need to wait for a directive from Congress

to start discussing other historical figures who could become Mississippi’s still-life representatives. They could consider civil rights leaders Medgar Evers or Fannie Lou Hamer. The arts world offers several prominent Mississippians: B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Margaret Walker Alexander, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright and William Faulkner. » EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS Pettus has covered Mississippi government and politics since 1994. Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter. com/EWagsterPettus.

BIG BUSINESS Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue


Page 8

Worker shortages continue to be major headache across many different sectors BY BECKY GILLETTE


mployers across many different segments of the economy have been finding it harder to keep fully staffed, but the situation in Mississippi has improved since Gov. Tate Reeves removed the federal supplement for unemployment, and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) ended the exemption from looking for work while on state unemployment if you were concerned about catching the virus that causes Covid-19. All extended federal

unemployment programs ended, and people can no longer use fear of Covid as a reason to not seek employment, said Dianne Bell, director of communications, MDES. “Right now, the state unemployment rate is at 6.1 percent,” Bell said. “But there are challenges all across the state and across different industries. There is an abundance of job openings, but a lack of applicants applying for these positions. The unemployment benefits were decreased May 10. But employers are still having a difficult time getting people back to

work.” we know is Bell said it we can’t get is possible them back people who to work. We were laid are encouroff during aging all the panunemployed demic may people to have gone contact to work our local MARK LEGGETT elsewhere. WIN Job And people who got Centers to consider job used to drawing unemopenings to transition ployment benefits may from unemployment to have gotten comfortable employment. But that is at home. Some people basically all we can do. could have saved their We let them know our stimulus payments to doors are open again, live on or paid off bills we have our full services while they could to get again, our WIN Job Cenahead. ters are fully staffed, and “We can’t say why we are waiting for them they aren’t coming to come back.” back,” Bell said. “All Bell said the problem

with employers finding adequate workers is not unique to Mississippi; it is a problem across the country. Some employers are providing incentives and bonuses to get people back to work. Bell said in some industries, workers are being offered increased pay and some are working extended hours to make up for employers being unable to hire as many workers as needed. Mark Leggett, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association, said like almost every other business, the poultry industry has had problems with worker shortages and the economic

effects and disruption caused by the pandemic. Chicken is sold primarily to restaurants or grocery stores, so when a lot of restaurants closed in early 2020, that had an effect on the poultry processors. “Then, in February 2021, we had the historic ice and snow storms that stretched through Texas and Mississippi and caused other disruptions that affected growers and the plants, too,” Leggett said. “There were problems with transportation, and frozen water lines at plants. In all my years in TURN TO WORKERS, 9

July 2021 Issue Mississippi, FROM PAGE 8 I’ve never seen snow stay on the ground for seven days. Usually, it will snow and by the next morning, it is starting to melt. This is a situation where it stayed on the ground for a week.” When interviewed in late July, Leggett said things are starting to return to normal with the employment situation. “I won’t say everything is normal, but it is returning to normal,” Leggett said. “One of things that helped with employment situations is the governor ending the federal unemployment benefit, which has led to more people looking for work. Some in other states say Mississippi is faring better as far as having an adequate number of workers. One plant supervisor I talked to said they seem to have a better applicant and attendance.” According to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, the poultry and egg industry in Mississippi employs more than 31,000 people across the state and generates an additional 64,084 jobs in supplier and ancillary industries. “These are good jobs paying an average of $42,300 in wages and benefits,” the association said. “And in today’s economy, every job is important.” Staffing shortages have been particularly high at restaurants. Some restaurants in the state have even closed and others have reduced hours because of being unable to keep an adequate staff. “Most definitely it is an issue,” said Pat Fontaine, executive director, Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association. “La-


bor for our industry has been a challenge long before the pandemic. The labor shortage began back in 2019. The pandemic just exacerbated our labor challenges. As a result of the pandemic, the stimulus checks, and federal unemployment provisions, the problems just escalated. It has been a challenge. Many of our restau-

rants now are reporting an increase in applications. but it is not resulting in employees coming to work.” Fontaine said their members are doing all they can. Some have increased the rate of pay, offered signing bonus with another bonus after 90 days, and benefit packages that under other circumstances wouldn’t be offered.

But he said research analysis is showing a high quit rate: Half of the restaurant industry’s new hires in April quit. A research analysis attribute high quit rates to workers’ disenchantment with jobs and the industry overall. The situation is tough on owners and managers. Fontaine said many are having to reduce


Mississippi Business Journal

hours or close one day a week to give employees who are working a break. “For the summer months, a lot of our members report having filled positions with high school and college students,” Fontaine said. “As we approach the return of school in August, they are going to be seeking replacements for them. So that



is going to present a challenge. Most everyone you speak to is operating well below their normal staffing levels, yet sales levels are hitting pre-pandemic levels with significantly less staff in both front of house and back of the house. Owners are hands on. I doubt that there is an owner who is not bussing tables, washing dishes, and

10 n

Mississippi Business Journal


More teleworking in the future for Stennis Space Center’s NASA employees BY LISA MONTI


July 2021 Issue

sion at Stennis, was halted NASA employees and briefly but resumed under contractors at Stennis strict safety protocols. Space Center, one of the “Within two months we state’s largest employers were back up and operawith a workforce of 5,200, tional for testing mission remain in Stage 2 of critical hardware,” BaiNASA’s four-part ley said. “It wasn’t countdown to easy but we reopening afwere able to ter the pantransition demic. Only back to work essential quickly, space agenwithout cy employees missing a and NASA beat.” contractors The JOHN BAILEY have been NASA working on site while all center is home to about others continue telework- 35 government, coming. Resident tenants at mercial and academic the center are following activities working in their own protocols. office buildings, laboraStennis officials at the tories, warehouses and Hancock County center other structures suraren’t sure when NASA rounded by a 125,000Headquarters in Washing- acre buffer zone. “They ton will approve the move followed their own to full access in Stage 1 protocols,” Bailey said but say even then, NASA’s of the resident tenants. 450 civil servants and The U.S. Navy, the 1,400 contractors will be largest employer on site, encouraged to continue declined to comment for working remotely if their this report. jobs allow it. “The future Before bringing more has a lot more teleworkessential employees back, ing,” said John Bailey, NASA worked with federStennis Deputy Director. al, state and local officials The center never shut to create a safe-at-work down entirely even after protocol, making sure most of the workforce protective equipment was was sent home because available and signage was personnel in security, the in place to keep employfire department and other ees safely distanced. essential services remained Because of its remote on the job. Rocket engine location, the center offers testing, NASA’s main misemployees such services

Stennis Space Center in Hancock County as daycare, a wellness center, gas station, cafeterias, coffee shops, a dry cleaner, retail stores, a barber shop and banking. Most services are back in operation, Bailey said. Under the current federal guidelines, Stennis NASA staffing is capped at 25 percent occupancy. Currently there may be as many as 3,000 people approved to be on site at a time. “However, NASA Headquarters has been working with the White House to get to 50 percent occupancy while in NASA Stage 2,” Bailey said. Even when full access is allowed, things won’t be the same at the center. “Whenever we do get back to pre-Covid normal, it will be quite different,” Bailey said. “We are going to have a lot more employees participating in general teleworking.” Bailey said working remotely is not new to Stennis employees who work and live in a hurricane zone where storms disrupt everyday routines. Also, some workers were already working at home on a regular basis. Those experiences and the ability to safely get data to employees have made telework more routine. “We have learned that a lot of work can be done remotely, things like procurement and human

capital. We found that folks can be just as productive and in some cases more productive working at home,” he said. Besides giving employees more flexibility to be more productive, working at home saves commuting time, he said, and that’s a

plus for Stennis employees who drive in from their homes in St. Tammany Parish, La., and Mississippi communities. The change to more teleworking could mean downsizing or consolidating some of the facilities at Stennis, which would

result in less maintenance requirements and costs. But Bailey doesn’t expect a decrease in the total number of employees. “We still think that most people will come to work two or three days a week. From that perspective we don’t see a big difference.”

Bank Of Okolona Okolona P.O. Box 306 • Okolona, Mississippi 38860 (662) 447-5403 Bank of Mantee 54 1st Street • Mantee, Mississippi 39751 (662) 456-5341 Houston Banking Center 321 W. Madison St. • Houston, Mississippi (662) 456-3347 Calhoun Banking Center 122 S. Pontotoc Rd. • Bruce, Mississippi (662) 983-3700

BIG BUSINESS Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue


Page 11

Largest Employers Rank

Name Address



Top Officer Year Founded

Keesler Air Force Base Col. William Hunter 228-377-2783 1941 Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, MS 39534 Huntington Ingalls Industries Kari Wilkinson 2 228-935-1122 1938 1000 Jerry St. Pe Hwy., Pascagoula, MS 39568 Baptist Memorial Health Care Jason Little 3 800-422-7847 1912 350 N. Humphreys Blvd., Memphis, TN 38120 University of Mississippi Medical Center LouAnn Woodward 4 601-984-1000 1955 2500 N. State St., Jackson, MS 39216 North Mississippi Health Services Shane Spees 5 662-377-3000 1937 830 S. Gloster St., Tupelo, MS 38801 Sanderson Farms, Inc. Joe Sanderson, Jr. 6 601-649-4030 1947 127 Flynt Rd., Laurel, MS 39443 John C. Stennis Space Center Richard Gilbrech 7 228-688-3333 1961 NASA Stennis Space Center, Hancock County, MS 39529 Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians & Pearl River Resort 8 601-656-5251 Cyrus Ben 101 Industrial Road, Choctaw, MS 39350 Nissan North America - Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant Tim Fallon 601-855-6000 2003 300 Nissan Dr., Canton, MS 39046 Merit Health Barry Moss 601-932-1030 10 2015 1030 River Oaks Drive, Flowood, MS 39157 Memorial Hospital at Gulfport Kent Nicaud 228-867-4000 11 1946 4500 13th St., Gulfport, MS 39501 Mississippi State University Mark Keenum 12 662-325-2224 1878 233 Lee Blvd., Starkville, MS 39762 Forrest General Hospital (Forrest Health) Andy Woodard 13 601-288-7000 1952 6051 U.S. 49, Hattiesburg, MS 39402 Howard Industries Inc. Billy Howard, Sr. 14 601-425-3151 1968 3225 Pendorff Road, Laurel, MS 39440 Hancock Whitney Corporation John Hairston, Jim Fujinaga 15 800-448-8812 1899 2510 14th St., Gulfport, MS 39501 Southern Tire Mart, LLC Thomas Duff, Jim Duff 16 601-424-3200 2003 N/A, N/A, N/A 39429 Ashley Furniture Industries Earnie Gates 17 662-489-5655 1945 447 Hwy. 346, Ecru, MS 38841 Koch Foods Ed Fletcher 18 601-732-8911 2001 1080 River Oaks Dr., Flowood, MS 39232 University of Mississippi Glenn Boyce 19 662-915-7211 1848 P.O. Box 1848, University, MS 38677 Singing River Health System Lee Bond 20 228-809-5000 1931 2809 Denny Ave., Pascagoula, MS 39581 Entergy Mississippi LLC Haley Fisackerly 21 800-368-3749 1923 308 E. Pearl St., Jackson, MS 39201 Hattiesburg Clinic, P.A. Bryan Batson, MD 601-264-6000 1963 415 S. 28th Ave., Hattiesburg, MS 39401 Milwaukee Tool 662-451-5545 C.J. Allen, Jack Bilotta 1003 Sycamore Ave., Greenwood, MS 38930 Renasant Corp./Renasant Bank C. Mitchell Waycaster 662-680-1601 1904 209 Troy St, Tupelo, MS 38804 Beau Rivage Resort & Casino Travis Lunn 25 888-567-6667 1999 875 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS 39530 Caesars Entertainment 228-436-2946 1995 280 Beach Blvd, Biloxi, MS 39530 Tyson Foods Inc. Donnie King 601-298-5300 1948 3865 Hwy. 35 N., Carthage, MS 39051 The University of Southern Mississippi Rodney Bennett 28 601-266-5000 1910 118 College Dr., Hattiesburg, MS 39406 Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center Col. Rick Weaver 601-582-0801 29 1917 U.S. 49, Hattiesburg, MS 39401 BancorpSouth Bank James Rollins, III 662-680-2000 30 1876 One Mississippi Plaza, Tupelo, MS 38804 Anderson Regional Health System John Anderson 601-553-6000 31 1928 2124 14th St., Meridian, MS 39301 AT&T Mississippi 601-592-6580 Mayo Flynt 4266 I-55 North, Jackson, MS 39201 South Central Regional Medical Center G. Higginbotham 601-426-4000 1952 1220 Jefferson Street, Laurel, MS 39440 St. Dominic Hospital Beth O'Brien 601-200-2000 1946 969 Lakeland Dr., Jackson, MS 39216 G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center Kai Mentzer 601-362-4471 35 1957 1500 E. Woodrow Wilson Ave., Jackson, MS 39216 Trustmark Corp./Trustmark National Bank Gerard Host, Duane Dewey 800-243-2524 36 1889 248 E. Capitol St., Jackson, MS 39201 Lane Home Furnishings Mike Watson 662-447-4000 37 2000 5380 Hwy 145 S, Tupelo, MS 38801 Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi, Inc. David Fernandes 662-317-3000 2007 1200 Magnolia Way, Blue Springs, MS 38828 Chevron Pascagoula Refinery Chris Cavote 228-938-4600 39 1963 250 Industrial Road, Pascagoula, MS 39581 Georgia-Pacific LLC 40 404-652-4000 1927 133 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta, GA 30303 Information provided by company representatives and MBJ research. Direct questions to 1 Estimate 1

Type of Business

Full-time MS employees





Hospitals/Health Care System


Academic medical center


Health care




NASA Space Exploration


Tribal Government




Hospital/Health System


Health care


Higher Education (university)


Health care system


Transformers; computers; lighting; transportation


Financial Services


Commercial tire sales and service




Intergrate Poultry Processor




Health System/Hospitals/Medical Clinics




Health care




Banking, Wealth Management, Trust and Insurance


Casino Resort


Harrah's Gulf Coast, Horseshoe Tunica, Isle of Capri Lula, Trop Poultry/offices also in Forest and Vicksburg

2,300 2,300



Military training base


Financial services




Video, broadband internet, and voice services- mobile and fixed. Public not-for-profit health system

2,0001 2,000

Health care


V.A. Hospital


Financial services


Furniture Manufacturing




Energy, refining, oil & gas


Cellulose, lumber, chemicals, containerboard and corrugated


MEETINGS AND CONVENTIONS Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue


Page 12

Tourism markets see signs of comeback, stress safety



xpectations for hotel bookings and other tourism indicators were modest for this year, as a slow but steady rebound was predicted due to the pandemic. But tourism leaders around the state are optimistic about what’s ahead for their various markets for the rest of the year and beyond. “Everyone was right, 2021 was tough,” said Milton Segarra, CEO of Coastal Mississippi, the destination marketing organization for Mississippi’s three coastal counties. But, less than halfway through the year, Coastal Mississippi officials said there was some surprisingly good news to report: The region was seeing a “major rise in visitation and a vast increase in 2021 tourism numbers.” From January through May, room revenue, average daily rate and hotel occupancy were higher or beginning to top the previous four years, Coastal Mississippi reported. Segarra touted the uptick in tourism numbers as a sign of progress for the Coast’s recovery as a visitor destination.

BancorpSouth Center in Tupelo

“As travel trends continue to demonstrate increased interest and willingness to take leisure trips in the upcoming months, Coastal Mississippi is looking at a very prosperous summer season as a whole, and with plans and strategic partnerships in place to maximize visitation to this region, Coastal Mississippi expects to see continued tourism successes well into the fall and beyond,” Segarra said in a statement announcing the findings. Room revenue yearto-date as of May rose to $138 million, up from $119 million in 2018 and $124 million in 2019. Occupancy for the first five months of 2021 was nearly 69 percent, a welcome sign of recovery from the pandemic shutdown. “So far the numbers are very good,” he said. Sporting events such as soccer tournaments and cheerleading competitions will be an even bigger player in filling hotel rooms, restaurants and attractions on the Coast, Segarra said. With health safeguards in place to protect teams and fans, he said, “We’re seeing more sports events taking place.” Regional tournaments, beach volleyball

and boxing events have helped draw thousands to the Coast’s sports complexes and other venues. He called the competitions “one of the most important opportunities in event growth,” and said Coastal Mississippi “is taking very seriously the growth of the sports markets for us.” Even with stiff competition for sports events from nearby states, he said, “We believe we will be able to increase our market share.” Segarra said he expects more good news for tourism in the future. “Nationally in 2022 and 2023 we are going to see more robust activity,” he said, and that will include the gradual return of associations and corporations, which pulled back on in-person gatherings because of COVID. “Slowly but surely they will come back really strong,” he said. In the meantime, Segarra said, leisure travelers will help bolster the industry. Around the state, other tourism officials also are seeing encouraging signs in leisure travel in their markets. “Our leisure travel market was the first to rebound in Hattiesburg, and we have seen signif-

Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center icant sales growth with youth sports tournaments and other outdoor events this spring,” said Marlo Dorsey, executive director and CEO of VisitHATTIESBURG. “In fact, our April and May leisure sales were our strongest months in recent history.” Dorsey said since March of this year, Hattiesburg’s meetings and conventions market has steadily increased with inquiries, bids and numerous site visits for fall bookings. “We believe that’s the result of a slowly rebounding meetings market, but it is also a result of our focus for Hattiesburg as a safely open meetings destination.” She said during the past year, VisitHATTIESBURG has been diligent in working closely with event venue partners to create meeting floor plans that follow social distancing guidelines as well as best practices in cleanliness. “With this in mind, we created an ‘Expertly Open For You’ campaign for our meetings and conventions market,” Dorsey said. “We reached out to meeting planners through direct sales efforts and launched this campaign in our top drive markets in late 2020. With national economic forecasts stat-

ing the meetings industry will not fully recover until 2024, we knew we needed to adapt now to strengthen our commitment to excellent and safe gathering experiences for our corporate clients.” In Tupelo, Neal McCoy, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “We are currently booking and hosting meetings and events at the newly expanded and renovated BancorpSouth Arena and Conference Center. We have hosted numerous site visits with meeting planners looking at the new space and they are thrilled to see amenities in place to offer meetings with socially distanced practices if they choose to do so. We feel that by the summer of 2022 business will be back to a new normal following the COVID-19 pandemic, barring any setbacks with any variants this winter.” In Tunica, the meeting and convention interest has continued to pick up since the beginning of 2021, according to Mary Catherine Webb, sales manager of the Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The majority of our meeting space is located at our casino resort properties who have

guidelines in place to ensure the safety of meeting attendees as well as their patrons overall. As far as when she expects business to get back to pre-pandemic normal, Webb said, “I am not sure what our ‘normal’ as a whole is moving forward, but I do feel that there is definitely a way to meet safely in Tunica and all of Mississippi.” Among the uncertainty, Webb said there are signs the Tunica market is on the move. “Looking forward, we do have business on the books for the remainder of 2021 as well as into 2022 and beyond; specifically, our partners have reported seeing a noticeable pickup beginning with September of this year,” she said. The CVB continues to see interest and RFPs increase month over month as well as a pickup in the number of site visits, Webb said, “but we are still not to pre-pandemic levels. I am hopeful as we continue to move away from 2020 and build on what we have learned as an industry about gathering safely, the meeting and convention numbers will continue to grow.”


July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



USM launches Gulf Blue initiative to elevate Mississippi’s Blue Economy The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), in conjunction with partner organizations across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, announced an initiative to place Mississippi on the global stage for blue economy-related work. This initiative – Gulf Blue – is poised to bring “Big Ideas Out of the Blue” capitalizing on the region’s geography and maritime resources and positioning the Mississippi Gulf Coast to lead the development of world-changing innovation. Gulf Bluepools the knowledge of research scientists, federal agencies, industry partners and entrepreneurs to further develop the region as a global leader in oceanand maritime-related technologies. “The University of Southern Mississippi has been committed to charting a path forward for our Coastal Operations that not only advances the development of key academic programs that serve our coastal community, business, and economic needs, but that also elevates our robust research enterprise – in partnership with coastal business and industry – to harness the momentum of our state’s growing blue economy and to propel the Mississippi Gulf Coast into its transformative future,” said University President Rodney D. Bennett. USM has been strategically investing in maritime infrastructure that positions Mississippi to advance technology through an initial set of six blue tech innovation clusters: uncrewed maritime systems ocean-friendly plastics precision aquaculture smart ports sea-space systems coastal data “With growing excite-

ment for evolving blue technology and innovation around the globe, and with no prior blue tech cluster located in the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi is uniquely positioned to pursue this tremendous opportunity with Gulf Blue and capitalize on the growth sectors of the global blue economy,” said Dr. Kelly Lucas, USM Associate Vice President for Research, Coastal Operations. A few big ideas related to the blue economy include maximizing existing, world-class ocean research capabilities; connecting entrepreneurs and startups with federal agencies and capital investments; and promoting the unique qualities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast to attract and retain both talent and industry. “Each county along the coast of Mississippi has assets and we take those assets, collaborate together with the universities, in particular The University of Southern Mississippi being a conduit, to then build a stronger blue tech economy,” said Mary Martha Henson, Deputy Director for the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation.

Collaborations with private blue tech companies, including Ocean Aero, focused on developing intelligent autonomous underwater vehicles; AI Control Technologies Inc., focused on developing automation for the aquaculture industry; and SeaAhead, a blue tech startup platform; are also key to the success of the Gulf Blue initiative. “We are thrilled to support USM’s leadership in the blue economy future,” said Alissa Peterson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of SeaAhead. “We believe that the Gulf Coast has an important role to play in the development of innovations related to the ocean and that the creation of the Gulf Blue brand will support the competitiveness of this effort globally.” USM’s presence across all three coastal counties and expertise in ocean-related fields are integral components of the Gulf Blue initiative. USM’s assets along the Mississippi Gulf Coast include the Gulf Park campus (the hub for academic instruction on the Gulf Coast), Hydrographic Science Research Center, Center for Research Fisheries and Development, Gulf

Coast Geospatial Center, Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center, Marine Research Center, Roger F. Wicker Center for Ocean Enterprise (opening 2022), and a fleet of research vessels. These assets, along with partner organizations, form a unique maritime infrastructure to support design, testing and refining ocean- and maritime-related technologies. “The Gulf Blue initiative is really going to support not only Navy and NOAA, the government agencies, but also USM in academia and also new innovations and new companies that are moving to the Gulf Coast,” said Dr. William

(Bill) Burnett, Technical Director for the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. The historic Gulf & Ship Island Building in Gulfport, Mississippi, is the centerpiece facility for the new Gulf Blueinitiative and features 24-hour connected space for blue tech innovators. Downtown Gulfport provides convenient access to the Port of Gulfport, rail, interstates, and the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. This central location also helps to connect innovators and startups with academic and research expertise and students at USM’s coastal locations. “The University of


Southern Mississippi is one of a few universities in the country that is intentionally aligning economic development strategy with our research and academic expertise,” said Dr. Shannon Campbell, USM Senior Associate Vice President for Coastal Operations. “And now, with Gulf Blue, we are taking ownership of an attractive innovation economy and helping to grow and advance the Gulf Coast region.” USM’s presence at the Gulf & Ship Island Building is managed through a lease between the USM Research Foundation and Mississippi Power.




318 Howard Street • Greenwood, Mississippi 662.453.2114 •

MEETINGS AND CONVENTIONS LIST Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue


Page 14



Casino Address

Telephone Website

Parent Company General Manager



Gaming Sq. Ft.


Pearl River Resort 13541 Hwy 16 W. , Choctaw, MS 39530


Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians William "Sonny" Johnson

2 casinos, 2 hotels, 2 golf courses, water theme park, restaurants, spa, sports wagering




Island View Casino Resort 3300 W. Beach Blvd, Gulfport, MS 39501


Gulfside Casino Partnership Lindsey Inman


Beau Rivage Resort & Casino 875 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS 39530


MGM Resorts International Travis Lunn

Restaurants, two casinos, one is smoke-free, 2 pools, retail, coffee shop, bars, limo, showroom, banquet facilities, Windance Golf Course, sports wagering. 1,740-room hotel, 10 dining outlets, 4 nightclubs and bars, sports wagering, Topgolf Swing Suite, 12 shop retail promenade, spa & salon, tropical pool, Fallen Oak golf course, arcade, theater, 50,000 square feet of convention space






IP Casino Resort Spa 850 Bayview Ave., Biloxi, MS 39530


Boyd Gaming Corporation Vincent Schwartz

Hotel, live entertainment, restaurants, pool, spa, sports wagering, retail, convention center.




Ameristar Casino Hotel Vicksburg 4116 Washington St., Vicksburg, MS 39180


Penn National Gaming Inc. Gerad Hardy

Deli, buffet, steakhouse, blues bar, entertainment, RV park, hotel, lounge; poker room, sports wagering




Magnolia Bluffs Casino 7 Roth Hill Road, Natchez, MS 39121


Premier Gaming Group Kevin Preston

Hotel, buffet, restaurant, banquet facilities, salt-water pool, sports wagering




Horseshoe Tunica 1021 Casino Center Dr., Robinsonville, MS 38664


Caesars Entertainment Derrick Madison

Restaurants, conference rooms, pool, spa, fitness center, bars, lounges, sports betting




Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort 9380 Central Ave., D’Iberville, MS 39540


Land Holdings I LuAnn Pappas

Miniature golf, hotel, cafe, steakhouse, buffet, entertainment center, boutique, sports wagering




Isle of Capri Entertainment Resort Lula 777 Isle of Capri Pkwy., Lula, MS 38644


Caesars Entertainment Jim Milne

Dining, concerts, gift shop, RV park, Hotel, sports wagering




Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast 711 Hollywood Blvd., Bay St. Louis, MS 39520


Penn National Gaming Inc. Michael Pendergast

Golf course, RV park, ballrooms, 4 restaurants, hotel, sports wagering




Hollywood Casino Tunica 1150 Casino Strip Resort Blvd., Robinsonville, MS 38664


Penn National Gaming Inc. Matthew Heiskell

RV park, hotel, restaurants, indoor pool, sports wagering, spa




Golden Nugget Biloxi 151 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS 39530


Landry's Inc Chett Harrison

Lounges, hotel, pools, spa, sports bar & grill, steakhouse, marina, live entertainment, sports wagering




Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall 1477 Casino Strip Resorts Blvd., Tunica Resorts, MS 38664


Boyd Gaming Corp. Toni Burns

Hotel, pool, RV park, escape rooms, sports wagering




Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi 777 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS 39530


Bally's Corporation Todd Raziano

Restaurants; gift shops; showroom; lounges; hotel, sports wagering




Gold Strike Casino Resort 1010 Casino Center Dr., Tunica Resorts, MS 38664


MGM Resorts International Brandon Dardeau

32-story MGM resort, 1,133 rooms, sports betting, BetMGM Book Bar & Grill, Topgolf Swing Suite, award-winning Chicago Steakhouse, Buffet Americana, Sweet Tea, a Southern Eatery, 800-seat Millennium Theater, spa, and convention center




1st Jackpot Casino 1450 Jackpot Blvd., Tunica Resorts, MS 38664


Penn National Gaming Inc. Matthew Heiskell

Gift shop, steakhouse, buffet, sports wagering




Silver Slipper Casino 5000 S. Beach Blvd., Lakeshore, MS 39558


Full House Resorts John N. Ferrucci

Hotel, restaurants, retail, pool, sports wagering




Palace Casino Resort 158 Howard Ave., Biloxi, MS 39530


Palace Casino, LLC Keith Crosby

Hotel, restaurants, pool, bars, retail, spa, nonsmoking, sports wagering.



Fitz Casino & Hotel 711 Lucky Lane, Tunica Resorts, MS 38664


Foundation Gaming & Entertainment Anthony Scudiero

Steakhouse, buffet, cafe, hotel, sports wagering.




Boomtown Biloxi 676 Bayview Ave., Biloxi, MS 39530


Penn National Gaming Inc. Michael Pendergast

Restaurant, grill, buffet, event center, RV Park, sports wagering




Harrah's Gulf Coast Resort & Casino 280 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS 39530


Caesars Entertainment Jonathan Jones

Golf, hotel, gamin, fine-dining, cafe, pool, spa, sports wagering, gift shop




Harlow's Casino Resort & Spa 4280 Harlows Blvd., Greenville, MS 38701


Churchill Downs Inc. Roscoe Greene

Hotel, snack bar, buffet, spa, entertainment center, coffee shop, sports wagering




WaterView Casino & Hotel 3990 Washington St., Vicksburg, MS 39183


Foundation Gaming & Entertainment Penny Bankston

Buffet, deli, fine dining, hotel, sports wagering




Casino Vicksburg 1350 Warrentown Rd., Vicksburg, MS 39180


Bally's Corporation Derrius Morris

Buffet, hotel, bar & deli




Treasure Bay Casino & Hotel 1980 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS 39535


Treasure Bay, LLC Susan Varnes

2 restaurants; lounge; pool bar; gift shop; hotel, sports wagering




Bok Homa Casino 1 Choctaw Road, Heidelberg, MS 39439


Pearl River Resort William "Sonny" Johnson

Event center; quick serve eatery, sports wagering




Riverwalk Casino Hotel 1046 Warrenton Rd., Vicksburg, MS 39182


Churchill Downs Inc. Ginny Tzotzolas

Casino & Hotel, restaurant, buffet, gift shop, sports wagering




Trop Casino Greenville 199 Lakefront Rd., Greenville, MS 38701


Caesars Entertainment Colin Skidmore

Grill, restaurant, sport wagering




Information provided by Mississippi Gaming Commission, casino representatives, MBJ research. Ranked by gaming square footage. Direct comments to

SMALL BUSINESS Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue


Page 15

AGJ helps clients use a layered approach to help clients prevail over the “bad guys” BY BECKY GILLETTE

You can hardly open the paper today without reading about another major hacking operation. Malware and ransomware are top threats facing both small and large businesses and governmental institutions today. Brian Alford, a founder and partner of AGJ Systems & Networks in Gulfport, a managed IT service provider, said right now the bad guys are winning. And solutions are difficult. “The only way to stop/ limit cyber-criminals from getting your information is a layered approach,” Alford said. “You must educate the clients/partners on what is happening and build defenses to protect

their information and assets. Systems today use artificial intelligence (AI) to build defenses against known attacks, but there are over 100,000-plus new attacks every day. AGJ takes a layered approach to IT security and we are constantly doing research to make sure that we use the best, most secure tools available on the market.” A sobering fact is that ransomware became a $20 billion dollar business in 2020. Alford said education is the key component that will assist in limiting intrusion and prevent that gotcha moment. AGJ, a Veteran-owned business, started out 20 years ago in a 100-squarefoot office at Alford’s house before occupying

a 400-squareentrepreneurs. foot office They put their space at the entire new Gulf Coast practice in Business our hands Technolowith a gy Center. strong recAlford said ommendabeing part of tion from Leslie the BTC Vaughn, BRIAN ALFORD gave them their an opportunity to work practice manager. She with Adele Lyons, who understood and knew was and is a great mentor what our certifications for AGJ. were and the integrity of “Adele spent many the partners at AGJ. We hours working and refinwould not fail her and the ing our business plan and doctors.” helped us understand AGJ currently has more the challenges that new than 2,400 active clients companies face,” he that are both managed said. “Our first client was and unmanaged. Compass Imaging, a great “We have grown over group of radiologists from the years by following our Gulfport who knew what core values and working it would take to become our butts off,” Alford said.



“The AGJ staff owns their expertise and provides consistent professional IT support, which creates lots of word-of-mouth referrals. Our staff takes client empathy to the next level and that is one of the main contributors to AGJ being named 2021 Channel Futures 501 top companies globally Managed Service Provider. We were ranked 51st in the world, which reflects an awesome job from everyone in the company.” Alford said the company has grown by developing strong, meaningful relationships within their community and providing great customer service. “We understand and know the ‘why’ our clients are in business,” he said.

The company currently has 26 employees and serves clients in many different fields including construction, accounting, engineering, legal, education, and medicine. “We believe any company can become a successful client/partner after a few months of getting on track with the AGJ’s toolset,” Alford said. “Government clients are great to work with as they have policies and procedures that are normally easy to follow, and we quickly dive into their environments to understand and fix their pain points.” Some people have called on the federal government to do more to stop cyberattacks, many of which are originating in Russia or

16 n

Mississippi Business Journal



July 2021 Issue

Kosciusko small business wins national award BY LYNN LOFTON

It’s good news when a Mississippi entrepreneur does well. Such is the case for oLive Juicery of Kosciusko, the brainchild of 23-year-old Alyssa Olive (pronounced alive). The business officially began a year ago, after selling products at flea markets and pop-up events, and opened a store front in April. Products sold include all natural juices, smoothies, smoothie bowls and a few skin care products. Not only is oLive Juicery staying busy, the business recently was awarded a grant from Main Street America and Brother International. A part of the At Your Side Small Business Grant Program,oLive Juicery is one of eight brick-and-mortar businesses awarded the $5,000 grants nationwide. Funds will help these businesses adapt to COVID-19 and prepare for the next phases of reopening across the country, while also helping to revitalize and strengthen older and historic commercial corridors. “After a year of facing challenges related to the pandemic, the small businesses that make our downtowns and Main Streets thrive need extra support,” said Main Street America’s President and CEO Patrice Frey. “We are thrilled to have teamed up with Brother International to both help small business owners as they work to weather the impacts of COVID-19 and support the vitality of older and historic Main Street commercial districts.” Mississippi Main Street Coordinator Thomas Gregory said, “It’s a huge achievement for oLive Juicery to win one of these grants. The application process was extremely competitive, and only eight businesses were selected from designated Main Street districts across the nation, so for a

Mississippi small business to be selected for this program is quite an honor.” For her part, Alyssa Olive is excited about the grant but more excited about the next phase of her business. “I would love to offer more herbal options, and food might be the next thing,” she says. “I’m open to it as long as my mission is still observed.” From the beginning, the mission has been to offer healthy fruit products that people will enjoy. These all natural juices and smoothies have no additives. Olive admits she didn’t grow up eating fruit and had to find an enjoyable way to eat it. “I felt bad and had to have some surgeries. When I hit rock bottom, I knew I had to change the way I was eating to make myself better. The way I did fruits and vegetables I thought would help my health and be an easy way to absorb nutrients,” she said. “I realized the benefits of it.” Olive did not study nutrition in college although she earned a Bachelor’s Degree at Millsaps College and did some graduate work at Mississippi State. She did a lot of study and

research before making her healthy products in her home kitchen. As sales increased, family members pitched in to help. “My parents were not happy that I dropped out of graduate school,” she recalls. “We just got busier and busier. The first few weeks were really rough but I was willing to sacrifice for the business.” Her parents, Arnell Olive and Semone and Adam Greer, Sr., are now on board and pleased with their daughter’s success. oLive Juicery graduated from the home kitchen to rented space at a church to its own space now. “Having our own space is wonderful,” Olive says. “It’s just astronomical to be able to leave our dishes and things in the kitchen and to be more accessible to people is great.” In addition to its Kosciusko store front, oLive Juicery now sells products nationwide from its website. Olive uses all fruits –other than soft fruits which don’t juice well– for her drinks and smoothies. Ginger is added to some of them. A popular drink is the black lemonade which includes activated

charcoal that Olive says helps cleanse the body of toxins. A smoothie bowl is a thicker smoothie that’s topped with fresh fruit and served in a bowl. Main Street’s Gregory said, “During the pandemic, we saw a lot of young people making the

decision to open a business. Because people’s lives were so upended, many young people seized the opportunity to follow their dream of owning their own business, and we’ve seen some wonderful success stories, including oLive Juicery.

“As the economy begins to recover, there is a wealth of information available and small business assistance being offered to business owners, so I truly believe now is as good a time as ever to open a small business in Mississippi.”


Mini 1-topping Pizza Salad & Tea for only $5.40


• Pizza Spaghetti • Salad Bar • Sandwich 709 S 4th St. • Baldwyn, MS • We Can Accommodate Mon.-Thurs. 11-10 • Fri.-Sat. 11-11 • Sun. 12-10 Large Groups

SMALL BUSINESS LIST Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue


Page 17

Main Street Communities

Main Street Communities Organizaton





Aberdeen Main Street

319 E. Commerce St., Aberdeen, MS 39730


Ann Tackett

Amory Main Street

322 N. Main St., Amory, MS 38821


Rebecca Riddle

Baldwyn Main Street Chamber

200 W. Main St., Baldwyn, MS 38824


Shelby Scott

Batesville Main Street Association

150 A Public Square, Batesville, MS 38606


Mamie Avery

Biloxi Main Street

P.O. Box 253, Biloxi, MS 39533


Kay Miller

Booneville Main Street Association

100 W. Church St., Booneville, MS 38829


Lori Tucker

Byhalia Area Chamber Main Street

2452 Church St., Byhalia, MS 38611


Sarah Sawyer

Main Street Chamber of Leake County

PO Box 209, Carthage, MS 39051


Annette Frederick

Team Cleveland Main Street

101 S. Bayou Ave., Cleveland, MS 38732


Cade Holder

Clinton Main Street

PO Box 156, Clinton, MS 39060


Tara Lytal

Main Street Columbia

P.O. Box 1342, Columbia, MS 39429



Nik Ingram

Columbus Main Street

107 5th St. N., Columbus, MS 39701


Barbara Bigelow

Main Street Corinth

P.O. Box 393, Corinth, MS 38835


Angela Avent

Main Street Crystal Springs

P. O. Box 473, Crystal Springs, MS 39059


Felicia Thompson

Itawamba Main Street

107 W. Wiygul St., Fulton, MS 38843


Vaunita Martin

Main Street Greenville

504 Central St., Greenville, MS 38701


Gretchen Giachelli

Main Street Greenwood, Inc.

P.O. Box 8236, Greenwood, MS 38935


Brantley Snipes

Gulfport Main Street

P.O. Box 1780, Gulfport, MS 39502


Laurie Toups

Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association

P.O. Box 150, Hattiesburg, MS 39403


Andrea Saffle

Hernando Main Street Chamber

421 W. Commerce St., Hernando, MS 38632


Sibonie Swatzyna

Holly Springs Main Street Chamber

148 E. College Ave., Holly Springs, MS 38635


Christy Owens

Indianola Main Street, Inc.

Box 151, Indianola, MS 38751


Cherrie Britt

Kosciusko Main Street

101 N. Natchez St., Kosciusko, MS 39090


Leah Robinson

Laurel Main Street

PO Box 1256, Laurel, MS 39441


Susan Ladd

Louisville/Noxapater Main Street

P.O. Box 551, Louisville, MS 39339


Amy Hillyer

Meridian Main Street/EMBDC

200 22nd Ave., Meridian, MS 39302


Debbie Mathis

Moss Point Main Street

PO Box 8275, Moss Point, MS 39562


Sue Wright

Nettleton Main Street

124 Short Ave., Nettleton, MS 38858

Dana Burcham

New Albany Main Street Association

P.O. Box 125, New Albany, MS 38652


Billye Jean Stroud

Ocean Springs Main Street

1000 Washington Ave., Ocean Springs, MS 39564


Cynthia Sutton

Okolona Main Street

P.O. Box 446, Okolona, MS 38860


LaSonja Ivy

Pascagoula Main Street

P.O. 1203, Pascagoula, MS 39568

Rebecca Davis

Main Street Pearl

2422 Old Brandon Road, Pearl, MS 39288


Kathy Bourgeois

Philadelphia Main Street

256 W. Beacon St, Philadelphia, MS 39350


Tim Moore

Picayune Main Street

P.O. Box 1656, Picayune, MS 39466


Reba Beebe

Pontotoc County Main Street Association

109 N. Main St, Pontotoc, MS 38863


Beth Waldo

Ripley Main Street Association

111 E. Spring St, Ripley, MS 38663


Elizabeth Reid Behm

Saltillo Main Street

395 Mobile St., Saltillo, MS 38866


Deundra Poole

Senatobia Main Street

135 N. Front St, Senatobia, MS 38668


Jamie Sowell

Starkville Main Street/Greater Starkville Development Partnership

200 E. Main St., Starkville, MS 39759


Paige Watson

Sumrall Main Street

9 City Hall Ave., Sumrall, MS 39482


Sabreya DeLancey

Tunica Main Street

P.O. Box 1888, Tunica, MS 38676


Laura Withers

Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association

108 S. Broadway St., Tupelo, MS 38804


Debbie Brangenberg

Vicksburg Main Street

P.O. Box 150, Vicksburg, MS 39181


Kim Hopkins

Water Valley Main Street

207 N. Main St, Water Valley, MS 38965


Joe York

West Point Main Street

746 E. Broad St., West Point, MS 39773


Lisa Klutts

Woodville Main Street

P.O. Box 1546,, MS 39669



Polly Rosenblatt

Information supplied by Mississippi Main Street Association. List is ranked alphabetically by city. For questions contact



July 2021 Issue


Page 18

School districts guide students toward careers with special courses BY LISA MONTI

To help Mississippi’s high school students find or prepare for a career, many school districts offer career exploration activities at the middle school level to help them plan for high school, college and careers, according to Dr. Aimee Brown, state director of the Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education. “All students in Mississippi are required to have an Individualized Success Plan. This Focus course that is plan is used to guide a the beginning point for student’s college and career and technical career preparation education pathways or activities and career acadeit allows for mies,” Brown them to said. focus on The specific Keystone career course pathways focuses while on career in high planning school,” through said DR. AIMEE BROWN explorBrown. ing the The ISP is initiated 16 National Career during the seventh Clusters, participating grade year, and it is in financial literacy reviewed and updated and a reality fair, and annually through meet- completing handsings with a guidance on college and career counselor and often readiness projects. business and industry Brown said beginmentors. ning with the 2021The state Depart2022 school year, ment of Education seniors are required has developed coursto have a credit of the es specific to career College and Career exploration, according Readiness course in to Brown. One course order to graduate. is Keystone and it is “This course focuses typically offered during on career planning, apthe eighth or ninth plying for college and grade year. financial aid, portfoli“Many districts os, internships, digital choose to utilize Keycitizenship, financial stone as a Freshman literacy, and commuSeminar or Freshman nity service activities,”

she said. The Office of Career and Technical Education offers CTE pathways to districts that align to the 16 National Career Clusters. Those include agriculture, architecture and construction, arts and communications, business, marketing, finance, education, health science, hospitality and tourism, human services, information technology, law and public safety, manufacturing, STEM, and transportation and logistics. ”The majority of the school districts offer CTE programming at a local center but approximately 35 school districts have implemented or will soon implement the national career academy model,” Brown said. “Career academies allow more students to participate in CTE courses because they are offered on high school campuses and often scheduled across four years of high

school.” She said the career academy model combines “quality CTE content with academic subject matter so that students attend high school courses that encompass a career theme and culminate with the opportunity to complete internships, capstone projects, comprehensive portfolios, and industry certifications.” The Health Science career pathway is one of the most popular CTE options for high school students, according to Brown. The curriculum allows for the students to participate in Health Science Core and then choose between Healthcare and Clinical Services, Sports Medicine or Fitness and Nutrition. “Many of our school districts provide opportunities for students to earn a Mississippi Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license and/or certifications in pharmacy technician or phlebotomy,” Brown

said. “We are currently working to strengthen partnerships with healthcare organizations so that secondary students have an opportunity to participate in quality internships or apprenticeships that relate to healthcare.” Brown said several secondary CTE students are able to earn CTE dual credit through their local community college. “We have placed a greater emphasis on these courses through our Perkins V State Plan and the CTE Diploma Endorsement that can be added to a traditional high school diploma,” she said. “We are working with the Mississippi Community College Board to provide more dual credit courses for CTE students, and we expect these opportunities will grow in both number and popularity in the future. Our students have been successful in completing CTE dual credit courses and the experi-

ence has strengthened both college and career readiness for the participants.” Getting students ready for the workplace has resulted in innovative ways to explore careers. Pearl River Community College in South Mississippi is offering a CTE course called Smart Start Pathway which is a combination of the College and Career Ready course and the Adult Education Smart Start Course. It meets the requirements for the CTE diploma endorsement and as a substitute for the College and Career requirement, said Dr. Karen Bond, PRCC’s Director of Dual Enrollment. “Our hope is that it will fill two needs for our high school CTE students,” she said. This course will be offered in the fall at Hattiesburg High School and Hancock High School.


July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



In-person classes return, businesses continue online training BY LYNN LOFTON

to meet their needs for the best learning enviAs businesses and ronment for them,” she schools continue to said. “The majority of fall navigate the uncertain classes will be delivered waters of the pandemic, in-person, and USM will decisions must be made also continue to offer a about in-person classes variety of online courses, and workforce training as it did before the panversus the online methdemic.” od. Two of the state’s Masks are currently remajor universities, the quired in classrooms, and University of Mississipvaccinations are encourpi (Ole Miss) and the aged and available on University of Southern the Hattiesburg campus, Mississippi (USM), at Chasteen added. press time are planning The Oxford and regiona return to in-person al Ole Miss campuses do classes. On the business not require the vaccine side, Entergy and C Spire and have not asked the will continue online IHL for a vaccine requiretraining for employees. ment, Guajardo said. Ole Miss spokesperson “Additionally, we are Rod Guajardo said, “The not aware of any current growing adoption and plans for the IHL to credistribution of multiple, ate such a requirement effective and widely for the university system. available vaccines against We continue to educate the COVID-19 virus has the campus community enabled the University of about the effectiveness Mississippi to plan for a and availability of vacfull resumption of in-per- cines.” son classes for Fall 2021 Chasteen says the and the return of our exclusively online expecampus to pre-COVID-19 rience was challenging operations. for many students, as “We worked closely they did not have the with the State Departsame opportunities to ment of Health and the connect with peers and Institutions of Higher experience the traditional Learning (IHL) to acquire academic environment. doses to administer “Like faculty, howevto our employees and er, they adapted well. students who wanted Although some do not to be vaccinated at sites prefer online learning, across campus managed overall grade averages by the university’s School did not drop and stuof Pharmacy. At the start dents found ways to of the fall semester, the make use of our services university will offer addi- through Zoom and other tional opportunities for technology.” students, faculty and staff USM President Rodto receive the vaccine on ney D. Bennett issued campus if they choose to a statement to faculty do so.” and students saying the Dr. Amy Chasteen, University will continue executive vice provost to monitor developments for academic affairs at regarding COVID-19 and USM, says the university related variants. “The is excited for a return to health and safety of our a primarily on-campus students, faculty, and experience for students. staff remains our top “USM offers a variety priority. We are aware of of course formats to its multiple perspectives, diverse student body sensitivities, and ques-

tions about health protocols for the fall semester, and we are working diligently to finalize comprehensive protocols that will best position us for a productive in-person semester.” Entergy Human Resources Senior Manager Schuyler Jarrow explains that during the pandemic, Entergy was able to convert all of its enterprise soft skills training to a virtual format. “Prior to the pandemic, the majority of this training was conducted face to face. However, given the nature of the pandemic and the need for employees to continue to develop themselves, our instructors and third party vendors immediately worked to convert 100 percent of our training to an online format,” he said. “This was inclusive of more than 50 courses that span the areas of leadership, conflict resolution, communication skills, project management, Microsoft training and much more.” Asked how employees accepted the changes, he said, “Early on in the pandemic, employees were trying to get used to the new normal. They were juggling their family

lives, homeschooling children and settling in to learn how to work remotely from home. As such, there was not a lot of engagement from employees in development opportunities early in the pandemic.” However, once employees started to settle in and get a normal rhythm, Jarrow added, Entergy began to see more engagement as well as participation in online learning opportunities. “Feedback was very positive. Our vision is to continue offering online training to employees, while slowly beginning to offer in-person instructor-led training for those who prefer this method.” C Spire, as innovators in the tech space, was looking for ways to incorporate technology in all processes, including training, several years before COVID-19 forced employers to think differently about training team members. “We started building e-Learning courses and housing them in our online learning management system for all employees to access,” says spokesman Dave Miller. “Some courses are specific to job roles,

while others might be on-demand soft-skills training. The e-Learning courses allow us to deliver a consistent training experience no matter the team member’s location or schedule, and with our online training portal we can easily scale the number of employees we train at one time. It also allows us to track completion, which is especially helpful with compliance requirements.” Around four years ago, C Spire developed content and a process for offering live, virtual sessions as part of employee orientation. “For C Spire, the pandemic was a pivot, not a closure. We provide essential services, such as business and home internet, cloud services, and wireless access to customers. Not delivering those services was not an option,” Miller said. “As workers abruptly transitioned to remote work, we provided online classes on COVID-19 safety, remote work best practices, managing remote teams, and cyber security in work-fromhome settings.” As businesses were forced to close, the C Spire Training Depart-

ment delivered virtual live job-readiness training and a series of recorded courses to help teach these employees how to perform in their new, temporary positions. “Training was an important way to communicate to our employees and help them stay engaged with work during a global crisis. Our learning platform was already known and utilized by our team members, so there was some comfort in using a familiar system during such uncertain times. As the COVID-19 restrictions kept being extended, we recognized early on that any workforce training would, for an undetermined time, need to be conducted virtually,” Miller said. “The Training Department demonstrated rapid flexibility when adapting training to an online format. In the near-term, we will continue to have virtual training as an option for employees. As we consider what that looks like for the future, we do expect a mix of in-person and virtual events.”

From the big idea to the smallest detail, Regions means business. Trusted business expertise – it’s at Regions. We’re here to help your business thrive in ways you might not expect. At Regions, you’ll find one of the industry’s most complete suites of business tools along with the insight and personal service you need to accomplish your goals. For a broad range of product offerings and a local presence for everyday business needs, you don’t have to look far. Just take your next step with Regions.

© 2021 Regions Bank. Regions and the Regions logo are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



Jackson’s M-Bar set to start on multimillion dollar home for live music


he owner of the ments could take up to M-Bar Sports 36 months. Grill is betting big The business will with an $8-$10 million remain open during the expansion he says will build-out, according to transform the 8-yearBradley. old northeast Jackson The native of northestablishment into a top east Jackson said he entertainment destinatook inspiration for the tion. transformation of M-Bar Among highlights of from the success of such a phased-in expansion entertainment destinaplan that is to begin in tions as the District at September are an outEastover, a re-focused door amphitheater and Highland Village and the stage for musical perFondren District, a longformances, a beer time arts-and-engarden with a tertainment 500-inch LED draw with a television, lot of art-dewindowed co architecgarage ture. M-Bar doors that wants to turn the inbe the same side of M-Bar kind of “gooutside, fire to” place, pits, waRICHARD BRADLEY Bradley terfalls and said. fountains and outdoor He called the curgame area for cornhole rent-day establishment competitions. Planning just south of County Line has been under way for Road “a transformative several years, proprietor destination that channels Richard Bradley said. a big city vibe in the heart “It is amazing to see of the metroplex.” your dreams come true,” And it can become Bradley said in an intermuch more with the view Tuesday, just ahead outdoor entertainment of a formal announceenhancements, he said. ment of the M-Bar Sports “Normal times” would Grill’s expansion plans. have been much better Bradley’s press release for embarking on such said the expansion of the an expansion. Bradley establishment at 6340 conceded, but added: Ridgewood Court Drive “We have been successwould be completed in ful throughout the pan2023 but noted that fully demic” and can build on finishing the enhancethat as covid-19 passes

into history. The M-Bar has remained open during the pandemic but requires social distancing with seating and tables. It has also helped to boost its revenue picture with curb service, as well as food takeout and delivery. M-Bar even added alcoholic beverages to go – an option the Jackson City Council granted on a temporary basis. The establishment expects seating for 200 to 250 people for outside events. Events, Bradley said, will include musicians of the quality of performers at Fondren’s Duling Hall, a frequent booker of acts popular and once-popular. Rock & roll, country, blues and hip-hop will be among the musical offerings. “We’re not limited to certain kinds of artists,” Bradley said. Bradley said he has partners in the venture but declined to name them. He also declined to say what portion of the $8-$10 million investment will come from bank financing. It is hoped, he said, that M-Bar Sports Grill’s increased stake in the County Line Road corridor will spur new commercial investment elsewhere in the corridor. “Hopefully, the other businesses will come

Rendering of the exterior of M Bar. together,” he said. While Bradley wants to create the kind of entertainment culture enjoyed by the District at Eastover, Highlands Village and Fondren, accomplishing that goal within the County Line corridor cold prove a challenge, said Jim Turner, a managing director of the Jackson office of Integra Real Estate Resources, a national commercial real estate market data collection and research firm. “It is a different market,” Tuner said. “I am not saying it would not happen. I think it will take some time.” The corridor’s retail mix is different from the other markets, not as stable and can’t offer the pedestrian-friendly convenience of the others, he said. “They’ll also be competing against Renaissance Mall which also has

music venues,” added Turner, referring to the Ridgeland retail center off Interstate 55. Ridgeland’s Township retail and commercial district will also offer competition, Turner noted. Nonetheless, Jackson has a strong need for more entertainment options, he said. Among the “tremendous” positives of the corridor, he said, is that “you do have high traffic counts along County Line Road and a lot of rooftops.” And within the corridor, there’s “not a lot of competition for venues like the M-Bar,” Turner said. The new incarnation of M-Bar Sports Grill should also draw well from the many hotels within a mile or so of it, according to Turner; He said the price range of the hotels from discount and

moderate to luxury could help diversify the draw as well. The area of Ridgewood Road in which M-Bar is situated has a legacy as an entertainment draw. Around 2006 an entertainment establishment that at one point carried the name “Electric Cowboy” and later the neighboring “Bulldog” restaurant and bar were very popular, said Turner. A Ford auto parts warehouse displaced them both. “They were literally across the road” from the M-Bar, Turner said. The opening of the M-Bar in 2013 “kind of filled” the void, but the two displaced establishments “were much larger venues,” Turner added, and their success indicates the corridor can support a large capacity entertainment establishment.

Hazlehurst banker elected President of Mississippi Young Bankers


ebecca Barrentine, of Copiah Bank, Hazlehurst, has been elected to serve as president of Mississippi Young Bankers, a section of the Mississippi Bankers Association. Since 1950, Mississippi Young Bankers has been active in providing leadership development activities and supporting

financial literacy programs of the MBA and its member banks. MYB members are involved in administering scholarship programs for high school and college students, supporting the MBA Education Foundation, and advocating policy positions important to a strong banking industry. Barrentine serves as senior vice president and

chief informaty. She is also a tion officer of graduate of the Copiah Bank, Mississippi where she School of has been Banking and for 19 years. the GraduBarrentine ate School earned her of Banking at bachelor LSU. of art In REBECCA BARRENTINE degree in addition business administration to her role as president from Belhaven Universiof the MYB, Barrentine

will serve as a trustee for the Mississippi School of Banking, as well as on the MBA Education Foundation Board. She will also serve a one-year term as ex-officio member on the MBA Board. Barrentine has previously served the MYB as a member of the council. She was chairman of the MBA Information Security Officer/

IT committee, and she served on the MBA Women in Banking Committee. She is past president of the Hazlehurst Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs. Barrentine and her husband, Chris, have two daughters, Madelyn and Ellie.

22 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue

Analysis: Wicker says Yazoo pumps would alleviate injustice


nstalling massive pumps to drain water from the south Mississippi Delta would be a way to fight environmental injustice because the pumps would help low-income and minority residents whose lives are disrupted by flooding, Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said on Capitol Hill. It’s a relatively new argument that Wicker and others are making in support of a federal project that has been lingering, unbuilt, since the 1940s. The proposed pumps would remove water trapped between Mississippi River and Yazoo River levees in an expanse of rural flatlands north of Vicksburg.The Environmental Protection Agency vetoed the project in 2008 under one Republican president, and then rescinded the veto in 2020 under another one. Some environmental groups are to try to block it. During a hearing of a Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on Thursday, Wicker said that because of flooding in the south Delta, people “lack the certainty they need to build homes and establish businesses.” He said that reinforces a cycle of poverty.“The residents of the south Delta face one of the most glaring instances of environmental injustice anywhere in the nation,”

Wicker said.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in 2020 that the Yazoo Backwater area experienced significant flooding during nine of the 10 previous years. A 2019 flood covered more than 500,000 acres (202,343 hectares) and lasted several months. Five environmental groups – Audubon Delta, Mississippi Sierra Club, American Rivers, Health Gulf and Earthjustice – issued a news release Thursday that repeated their longstanding criticism of the pump project and took exception with Wicker’s statements.“The Yazoo Pumps are not an environmental justice project because it will not protect underserved communities from flooding,” Louie Miller, the Sierra Club state director, said in the release. “By the Corps’ own admission, 80% of the project benefits go to agribusiness by draining wetlands to intensify farming.”The proposed pumps have bipartisan support from Mississippi’s congressional delegation and from groups including Farm Bureau, the Delta Council and the Nature Conservancy of Mississippi.A south Delta resident who supports the pump project spoke during the hearing Thursday. Tracy Harden and her husband bought a Chuck’s Dairy Bar restaurant in

Rolling Fork in 2007. In response to questions from Wicker, she told the Senate subcommittee that floods would not be as high if the pumps were in place.“Our farmers would be able to be in the fields working, which means they’re able to employ some of the lower-income people,” Harden said. “If the farmers can’t plant, then they can’t hire.”Harden grew up in the south Delta and said people sometimes say that residents there should just move away from areas that flood.“This is our home. This has been our

home for many years. We can’t just up and move,” Harden said. “And then, a lot of the lower income (people), how are they going to move? They’re stuck.”The Thursday news release from the environmental groups said that in 2020, more than 230 conservation groups, social justice organizations and scientific professionals, and more than 90,000 members of the public, urged the Corps of Engineers to abandon the pump project and instead to elevate homes and roads and pay farmers

to convert croplands into wetlands.Olivia Dorothy is Upper Mississippi River Basin director for American Rivers. She said in the news release that the pumps could push billions of gallons of water a day into the Yazoo River when it’s at flood stage, and that could hurt Black communities near Vicksburg.“This massive amount of extra water could also breach the Yazoo Backwater Levee, flooding the very same communities that the pumps are supposed to protect,” Dorothy said. Days before then-Pres-

ident Donald Trump left office in January, the Corps of Engineers published a final environmental impact statement saying the Yazoo pump project is “technically feasible, environmentally justified ... and in the public interest.”Six months later, the project remains unfunded and enmeshed in court fights.» EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS has covered Mississippi government and politics since 1994. Follow her on Twitter: EWagsterPettus.

Wes Daughdrill named president of Young Wells


oung Wells Williams P.A. has announced the election of Wes Daughdrill to succeed James H. Neeld, IV as President effective July 13, 2021. Neeld has served as President since 2010 and will continue to serve as Chair of the firm’s business law practice. “I am very pleased to welcome Wes as our next President and expect a seamless transition to his

leadership. He has served on our board of directors for many years and has a great deal of experience in the management of our firm. Wes will bring fresh ideas and energy to build on the firm’s legacy of 60 years of service to our communities,” Neeld said. Daughdrill has focused his practice on corporate and business law, commercial transactions, mergers and acquisitions,

and municithe opportunity pal, county to serve as and state President of government our firm and law. He to advance currently our vision serves as of service to Board Attorour clients and ney for both communithe JefferWES DAUGHDRILL ties.{span son Davis class=”ApCounty Board of Superple-converted-space”} visors and the Town of {/span} Jim and other Prentiss. excellent leaders have “I am honored that my positioned our firm for partners have given me continued success.{span

class=”Apple-converted-space”} {/span} I look forward to working with our team as we build on our 60 years of service,” said Daughdrill. Daughdrill is rated “AV – Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell, which signifies the highest level of professional excellence. Daughdrill is a member of the Capital Area Bar Association and The Mississippi Bar. He received his bachelor’s

degree in Banking and Finance, summa cum laude, from the University of Mississippi and his Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law. {span class=”Apple-converted-space”} {/span} While at Ole Miss, Daughdrill was also awarded the Taylor Medal, which is the highest academic honor that the university awards to undergraduate students.

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



TVA seeks comment on proposed transmission line improvement


he Tennessee Valley Authority is asking for public input on proposed transmission system improvements to prepare for growth and increased power reliability in the Tupelo area. TVA proposes to invest about $1.6 million to build a new power line connection from the existing Tupelo-Structure 119 to Tupelo Water & Light’s new substation. The new line would be less than one mile and built using primarily steel, double-pole structures on new 100-foot-wide right of way.

Tupelo Water & Light is building a substation on the north side of North Green Street about a quarter-mile southeast of the intersection of North Gloster and North Green Streets to improve power reliability in the northeastern service area. Members of the public are encouraged to visit TVA’s website through Friday, July 30, at www. The website includes detailed maps showing the different locations being considered for the proposed transmission line.

Comments and questions can be submitted on the website. The public may also submit comments by contacting TVA’s Kelly Evans at 800-362-4355, by email at or by mail to: Kelly Evans, Tennessee Valley Authority, 1101 Market St., MR 4G, Chattanooga, TN, 374022801. The deadline for comments is July 30. TVA is investing over $2 billion in transmission system improvements across the service area between 2021 and 2025.

Mississippi gets nearly $13 million for rural Covid fight


ississippi hospitals in rural areas will receive nearly $13 million in federal funding to help fight the coronavirus, according to a news release.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is giving $12,918,800 through its Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program to 50 small rural hospitals in the state, accord-

ing to the release from the White House. Hospitals can use the money to expand access to testing in rural areas as well as for other coronavirus mitigation efforts needed in their com-

munities. “The Biden Administration recognizes the important role that small rural hospitals have in closing the equity gap and ensuring that rural Americans can protect themselves

and their communities from COVID-19,” said Secretary Xavier Becerra in the news release. The state’s Department of Health Monday announced 796 new coronavirus cases

over a three-day period from July 9 through July 11 and two new deaths during that same time period. A little over one million people have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

24 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue

Skip college? Not if you want higher wages


keptical of the four-year college degree? It’s still your best bet to make money. Backlash against college as a common stop on the road to adulthood has mounted over the past decade. Critics say fouryear degree programs saddle most students with five-digit debt without a clear path from classroom to career. Nearly half (46%) of all families surveyed in November and December 2020 by Gallup for the Carnegie Corporation of New York said they would prefer their children attend alternatives to fouryear institutions – even when there were no financial barriers.But when you compare the value of a four-year degree with other credentials – a high school diploma, certificate programs and associate degrees – it still puts workers at an advantage in the labor market and leads to higher lifetime earnings, on average. BACHELOR’S DEGREES ARE TYPICALLY A GOOD INVESTMENTIf a college degree is an investment, it’s a good one, according to the New York Federal Reserve. The annual return on a typical four-year degree is around 14%, it calculates, well above the threshold of “good” returns for stocks (around 7%) and bonds (3%).In dollar terms, graduates with a bachelor’s degree will earn on average about $78,000 annually, compared with a high school diploma earner who receives around $45,000 annually, according to 2019 data from the New York Federal Reserve. However, “on average” doesn’t mean that the return on your education, or college earnings premium, will always be a gain. Where you attend school, how much debt you take on, what you study and where you

FILE – In this Friday, June 1, 2018,, file photo, graduates are silhouetted against the green landscape as they line up to receive their diplomas at Berkshire Community College’s commencement exercises at the Shed at Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass. Critics of traditional four-year degree programs say grads leave burdened with student loans and no clear path to a career. But experts say the four-year degree is still a good investment since it leads to higher overall lifetime earnings compared to workers without a degree. (Gillian Jones/The Berkshire Eagle via AP, File) live after school all help determine your return. Many of those factors are influenced by your race, ethnicity and gender. YOUR ABILITY TO REPAY DEBT AFFECTS YOUR DEGREE’S VALUEStudent loan debt is difficult to avoid and even more challenging to repay. College costs rose 117% from 1985-86 to 2018-19, according to federal data. Wages, meanwhile, didn’t keep pace, growing only 19% during the same period, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. However, loans are still the primary vehicle for families without wealth to obtain college degrees. In order to make your degree worth it, you have to earn enough to justify it. That means carrying debt that won’t put you underwater – amanageable student loan paymentis around 10% of your discretionary after-tax income. To get the best return and be able to repay debt, graduation is crucial – many borrowers who default will have debt but

no degree. “That’s the worst-case scenario – you’re incurring some of those costs but with very, very little benefit,” says Jonathan Rothwell, principal economist at Gallup. DEMAND FOR YOUR MAJOR MATTERSWhat you study in school will affect the type of job you can get, your earnings and your ability to repay debt.Average earnings at mid-career are highest among those who hold a bachelor’s degree in fields like science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM ($76,000), business ($67,000) and health ($65,000), according to a 2015data reportfrom Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce. The same report found the lowest median mid-career earnings among those whose bachelor’s degrees were in field s like arts, humanities and liberal arts ($51,000), as well as teaching and serving roles such as social work ($46,000). To estimate earnings,

graduation rates, typical student debt loads and other factors at individual schools, use the Education Department’sCollege Scorecardtool. You can search and compare earnings as well as debt by fields of study.WHERE YOU LIVE AFTER GRADUATION ALSO MATTERSWhere you live after attaining your degree also affects its value, according to the results of a May 2020 study for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute , a conservative nonprofit think tank.“In general, college degrees are a good investment, but the return in terms of cosmopolitan areas is phenomenal,” says John Winters, associate professor of economics at Iowa State University, who conducted the study. In cities, bachelor’s degree holders earn $95,229 on average, an 86.2% premium compared to a worker with a high school diploma and a 55.7% premium compared to an associate degree holder. Winters says that’s primarily because cities have

a higher concentration of jobs in fields that often demand workers have four-year degrees, such as tech, finance and marketing. Workers in these fields earn higher wages, which leads to a greater return on investment for degrees. However, Winters’ findings also mean it’s less critical to have a four-year degree if you want to live in a smaller metro or rural area. Bachelor’s degree holders in nonurban areas have mean earnings of $67,893, which puts their wages at a 46.4% premium compared to high school diploma holders and a 29.6% premium compared to associate degree holders. DEGREE ATTAINMENT DOESN’T GUARANTEE EQUITY In some ways a college degree can exacerbate income and racial inequalities, such as student debt and ability to repay that debt, says Marshall Anthony Jr., a senior policy analyst at Center for American Progress, a public policy research organization.

“A college degree doesn’t usually work the same for everybody,” Anthony saysBlack borrowers tend to take on greater amounts of debt – about $25,000 more, on average, than white borrowers, according to federal data. In 2016, among those with a bachelor’s or higher degree, Asian full-time, year-round workers ages 25-34 had higher median annual earnings ($69,100) than their white peers ($54,700), and median earnings for both racial/ ethnic groups were higher than those of their Black ($49,400) and Hispanic ($49,300) peers, according to the most recent available data by the National Center for Education Statistics. Higher debt and lower wages also means Black borrowers will accrue more interest over time: Four years after graduating from college, Black graduates have $52,726 in student loan debt compared to White graduates at $28,006, according to a 2016 Brookings Institution study.

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



26 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue


Tempstaff - 1st Place

empStaff was founded in 1981 and has always called Mississippi home. Since its inception, Carolyn Boteler has been a vital part of our success. Having worked in many aspects of the company, Carolyn became the President and CEO in 1991. Her goal is not to be the biggest, but rather the best, staffing service in Mississippi. A commitment to exceptional customer service and giving back to the community has led to numerous awards and recognitions on both a personal and corporate level. Carolyn is still actively involved in leading TempStaff into the future. TempStaff has grown and evolved over the years. Technology and new generations have drastically changed the employment landscape since 1981. Having grown up in the staffing industry, Jamie Boteler Higdon shares the same commitment to outstanding customer service and a dedication to philanthropic endeavors. As a second-generation owner, she is committed to carrying on the legacy that began decades ago.

TempStaff was founded in 1981 and has always called Mississippi home. Since its inception, Carolyn Boteler has been a vital part of our success. Having worked in many aspects of the company, Carolyn became the President and CEO in 1991. Her goal is not to be the biggest, but rather the best, staffing service in Mississippi. A commitment to exceptional customer service and giving back to the community has led to numerous awards and recognitions on both a personal and corporate level. Carolyn is still actively involved in leading TempStaff into the future. TempStaff has grown and evolved over the years. Technology and new generations have drastically changed the employment landscape since 1981. Having grown up in the staffing industry, Jamie Boteler Higdon shares the same commitment to outstanding customer service and a dedication to philanthropic endeavors. As a second-generation owner, she is committed to carrying on the legacy that began decades ago.

Blackburn Construction - 2nd Place


lackburn Construction, Inc. (formerly known as R.J. Allen & Associates) is a general construction and construction management company that has been serving clients since 1984. In 2006, David Blackburn joined RJAA adding residential and commercial construction in the Texas and Mississippi markets.

Since 2006, Blackburn has added dozens of convenience stores, restaurants, multi-family communities, retail space, apartment living and office space projects to this company’s repertoire. In January 2020, the company name was changed from R.J. Allen & Associates, Inc. to Blackburn Construction, Inc. to be better aligned and recognized as a Blackburn Group brand.

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



SMALL CATEGORY The Solutions Team – 3rd


ounded in 2007, with locations in Jackson and Carrollton, Ga., The Solutions Team is a Managed Cloud Solutions Provider offering a proven suite of hosting and managed services to businesses of all sizes seeking greater functionality, security and flexibility to work remotely from anywhere via the Internet. The Solutions team believes it creates a culture, where everyone is appreciated as a member of The Solutions Team family – from top management to the newest hire.

BadgePass B

adge Pass started in the identification industry back in 1976 as Mississippi Impression Products and grew into ID Group, Inc. in the early 1990s when the first desktop ID card printers hit the market. At that time, it was primarily selling ID and security solutions to end user customers located in Mississippi. As it worked with those customers, it consistently received requests for one system with a single database that would allow for the issuance and management of credentials for everything at their facility. That feedback is what inspired the development of what is now the Badge-

Pass Credential Management system. In 2010, it created the company BadgePass, Inc. to run software development efforts. Since 2015, it has acquired 6 other companies, helping to expand both its software portfolio as well as its local sales footprint. Now, it has a team of developers dedicated to consistently enhancing and releasing new products and applications, but it also has an incredible service and support staff that spans over fourteen states.

The Solutions Team’s Founder and CEO, Todd Gooden, is engaged in the day-to-day activities of the company, and easily approachable. He works just as hard as everyone else. Everyone is appreciated and valued for the individuality they bring to the team. Employees are rewarded with competitive salaries, company paid healthcare, three weeks of paid leave, bonus plans, professional training and company sponsored lunches and other periodic team-building events.

28 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue



abel Street pioneered an AI-enabled analytics platform as a single gateway to transform the world’s data into knowledge regardless of language in real time. It democratizes understanding of an unprecedented array of content from around the world – from publicly and commercially available information and its customers’ own data. It ingests and enriches data to deliver only what is most relevant and timely to the customers’ mission. And it constantly innovates since the customers’ missions evolve. Finally, it understands a powerful platform comes with great responsibility. It is guided by a strong corporate ethos.



ncorporated in 2010, NIC Mississippi, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tyler Technologies, Inc., is the State of Mississippi’s eGovernment provider. Responsible for the development of innovative services for state agencies, boards and commissions, NIC Mississippi services positively transform the relationships between citizens and government by using technology to provide a more efficient method for work and to provide great customer obtaining information and services. service which is why it has built a It believes happy employees are work environment centered on trust, motivated to produce high-quality transparency, and employee engagement.

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal




EMI Staffing

MI Staffing was founded in 1998. Since its beginning, the focus has been on placing the right people in the right positions. The team has grown from three internal employees to 25 at three branches across north Mississippi. The teams of dedicated recruiters in Grenada,

Greenwood and Batesville are experts in the regions they serve. EMI Staffing believes in working hard and playing hard. EMI Staffing is very family orientated and has created a great environment to work in, as they help each other get the job done each day.

Our Employees MAKE the difference!

Staffing With a Personal Touch EMI knows staffing and we know Mississippi. As one of the largest and most successful independently owned staffing services in Mississippi, we pride ourselves on providing excellent service, with a personal touch. Mississippi owned and operated since 1998, we have helped companies like yours find the best employees to get the job done We are invested in Mississippi, operate at the highest level of excellence, and are experienced problem solvers. Our proactive approach sets us apart. From professional office to light industrial, we’re committed to placing qualified candidates in great jobs. We Recruit for a Wide Range of Contract, Direct Placement and Temporary Positions, including (but not limited to): Upper Management, Professional, Administrative, Light Industrial, Mass Merchandising, Independent Grocers, Education and Much Much More!

We are proud to call Mississippi home for over 20 years! Grenada Office 142 South Main Street (662) 226-9025

Batesville Office 103-5 Woodland Road (662) 563-5888

Greenwood Office 209 Fulton Street (662) 453-1263

“Handling the Human Side of Business”!

30 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue



ynergetics has been a leading information technology service and consulting firm for more than 29 years. It has provided technology solutions for a wide variety of fields, including government, healthcare, and education industries in addition to many others. Starting in

1992, the company’s focus has always been on providing clients with technology from top industries with the most competitive pricing and training on how to utilize them successfully. Synergetics believes its best asset is its people. It offers competitive pay, professional development assistance,

medical, retirement benefits, employee recognition programs, and much more. During the chaos of 2020, Synergetics doubled down on its commitment to employees by providing childcare assistance options and flexible working options to assist with working parents.

Established in 2000 by Neal Rich, The ASSET Company operated as an electrical engineering firm working from the Rich house in Madison. At the end of 2000, it moved into an office space in Madison. In 2004, ASSET purchased its first office in Canton and after extensive restoration and improvements, returned this derelict, county-owned property to useful service. Shortly after, it out-

grew this location and in 2007 the company purchased and renovated its current office off the square in Canton.The company has grown organically over the years and is now approaching 30 employees with two office locations in Canton and a branch office in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. The anticipation is to be in the market for a larger office facility once again as the team continues to grow.

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



radley provides a professional work environment with challenging career opportunities, and it values motivated individuals with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, ideas, and perspectives. Bradley recognizes the indispensable contributions of the staff by offering the highest-quality compensation and ben-

efits packages, as well as professional development opportunities that help our people advance in their professional lives. Bradley also embrace family values and provides initiatives to help staff achieve a healthy and happy work-life balance.

AmFed A

mFed was created in 1993 as a solution to the Mississippi Workers Compensation coverage affordability crisis. As it has always been the belief that problems are merely opportunities in disguise, the initial group took on that challenge. With the foresight and support of then Insurance Commissioner George Dale, and his newly appointed project leader, Major General Harold Cross, AmFed

was given the opportunity to help redesign The Mississippi Workers Compensation Assigned Risk Plan and emerge as a new leader in the Workers Compensation Insurance marketplace. Over the past 28 years, the dedicated staff at AmFed has grown its A. M. Best “A- rated” company into a respected multi-state specialist in the Workers Compensation Insurance and insurances services business.


32 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue

SMALL CATEGORY Mississippi Board of Nursing I

n 1914, the Mississippi State Board of Examiners of Nurses and the Nurse Practice Act became law established through legislation. In 1970, the name changed to the Mississippi Board of Nursing. With the help of many other courageous individuals, the MSBON continues to provide nursing education standards, practice, and regulation to over 70,000 nurses statewide. It believes it’s the characteristic of the workplace that makes it one of the best

places to work. MSBON has a culture that focuses on communication, recognition, inclusiveness, individual support, transparency, manager effectiveness and teamwork. Additionally, having a team that understands how their job contributes to the agency’s mission, vision, and values is the core of what makes it effective and a great place to work.

Thank You to our Team for making us FIRST PLACE in the Medium Category for 2021 Best Places to Work Technology makes IT possible. Our people make IT happen.

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



he EMC Jackson Branch was founded in 1966. Employers Mutual Casualty Company, the parent company, was established more than 100 year ago, in 1911. EMC hires great people that are enjoyable to work with and has a fantastic work ethic and skill set. In addition, EMC offers a flexible work environment that allows our team members

to achieve an ideal work/life balance. On top of a flexible work environment, EMC’s benefits package is top notch and offers the best PTO, Health Insurance, fitness reimbursement, and wellness program. It is one of the few companies that still offers a pension plan on top of its 401K match.

Central Access C

entral Access has been servicing the K-12 education community every day since 1954. What began with school supplies evolved into all-encompassing software solutions company that caters to the needs of all aspects of the school district. Central Access is a family-owned business, and has always tried to treat its employees and customers as

if they are an extension of the family. Central Access employees and the also valued, and they are given the freedom to balance our family and work life. The average length of employment at Central Access is 18 years. One major benefit to all employees is an additional 2 weeks off at Christmas which is meant to be spent with family.



34 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue

SMALL CATEGORY Matthews, Cutrer and Lindsay, P.A. M atthews, Cutrer and Lindsay CPAs was founded in Ridgeland in December 1988. Today, the firm operates four offices in the cities of Ridgeland, Clinton, and Yazoo City under the leadership of Matt Freeland, managing partner. A second MCL office was established in Yazoo City in 2012. By January 2019, the firm expanded to its third city by adding a Clinton office. A second Ridgeland location followed just 12 months later. The firm employs just under 50 professionals, who accept change as

inevitable and as an opportunity. People – not numbers – are the core passion. Every person and every relationship hold inherent worth. Life’s work is made better by trusted relationships and innovative partnerships. The firm shows a strong desire to meaningfully assist clients. This desire develops its professionals into trusted advisors and innovative partners who share in the accomplishment of compliance or resolution.

InfusionPlus I

nfusionPlus is an infusion pharmacy providing medications and nutrition in the home setting and alternate sites for patients in Mississippi and Louisiana. InfusionPlus provides for its employees a teamwork structure that shares a common goal of patient/ customer prioritization. Employee input and perspectives are respected and encouraged in making decisions for the organization. Management

also places a high priority on the employees’ personal goals and needs and moves quickly to meet these needs when possible. Shared values of faith and family provides a strong foundation for InfusionPlus and its employees to grow. A local ownership and local management team allows agility and flexibility in decision making for meeting the needs for patients with ever changing circumstances.

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal




May & Company M ay & Company’s positive culture is the foundation for success. Employees enjoy this as much as competitive salaries and benefits. The team is dedicated to success by bringing valuable solutions to clients through exceptional service, developing our associates and contributing to our community and profession. May and Company holds meetings, lunch and learn events and celebrations when milestones are reached. Informative gatherings, friendly coworkers

and a team-oriented environment in which each person is motivated by the company’s goals are what make May and Company a great place to work. This positive culture is foremost and promotes happy employees which ultimately leads to happy clients. May & Company offers a full-range of accounting services for both individuals and businesses. It is are a full-service accounting firm licensed in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.


Byrn Zizzi CPA

yrne Zizzi has long sought to be a place that offers someone not just a job, but a career. It facilitates the ability to learn and develop as a professional, offering a safe and supportive work environment, and real opportunities to advance to leadership. Byrne Zizzi is enlightened as to work schedules and work/life balance, so that each person can thrive and meet their long-term personal goals within the team that is Byrne Zizzi. Harold Craig started a progressive CPA Firm way back in 1961, bringing a professional service

to his small hometown. He went on to build it as a leader in Mississippi CPA circles, passing the torch to Tom Byrne in 1991, and it has since become one of the leading growth Firms in Mississippi under the lead of Emily Zizzi, also from Houston, Mississippi originally. Now the Firm employs 33 people in 4 offices in North Mississippi.

36 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue


1st Place


CI was founded in 1993 by Tony Bailey, and the company is headquartered in Ridgeland. Started out as primarily as structured cabling company. It became a Value Added Reseller shortly afterwards as one of the first Cisco resellers in Mississippi, and we had one of the first CCIE’s in Mississippi. BCI moved to the current headquarters location in 1998 and expanded the building in 2000.

BCI built a multi-million dollar datacenter in 2011 and started providing Managed IT Services. Today – BCI has employees in six states – roughly 80 work in Mississippi. BCI works with companies that have 1 employee all the way up to companies with 10,000-plus employees and provides IT services to companies, schools, universities, and government entities.

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal




BeyondTrust - 2nd Place


s a global leader in cyber security, people are the single greatest asset at BeyondTrust. Every day, there are new problems to solve, challenges to overcome and opportunities to make a difference in the security of customers. As an industry leader, it is committed to going beyond for the talented, exceptional people that comprise the global BeyondTrust team. Its culture is critical to its success, and BeyondTrust is committed to creating a truly great work place. It is focused on employee engagement through several programs:

Benefits & Perks; Career Development; Diversity & Inclusion and Beyond Giving. During the pandemic, the team has remained focused on providing virtual opportunities for employees to stay connected.

First Federal Savings & Loan - 3rd Place


irst Federal has always maintained a family culture. When any decisions are made, management always asks, “Is this good for our employees and customers?”. Along with that, First Federal provides first class benefits in health care and retirement. We appreciate our employees and customers and do our best to demonstrate this every day. This past year, First Federal celebrated 65 years and has grown to more than $321 million in assets with 6 branches serving south Mississippi.

Its legacy is its service to its customers and that service shines throughout the employees. First Federal has a highly qualified team with the average employee having 16-plus years of knowledge and experience in mortgage lending and personal banking.

38 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue


Ross & Yerger BancorpSouth Insurance Insurance - 3rd Place B F ounded in 1860, Ross & Yerger is the oldest independent insurance agency in Mississippi. Its 161 year history is made possible because of its dedication to client needs and an exceptionally talented & caring staff. It is a 100 percent employee-owned company, which allows all employees to participate in the profits of the agency and creates a family environment where everyone has one unified goal. This family environment is fueled by a strong leadership and a company culture that promotes a collaborative team approach and an “open door” policy. Caring for its employees is just as

important as caring for its clients, which is why Ross and Yerger offers employees great health benefits, a 401(k) matching program, generous vacation and sick leave, plus personal time off, and one “Summer Friday” off during June, July and August. It also provides an on-site exercise room and offers employees cash bonuses annually for participation in its Wellness Program.

XS Insurance traces its roots in Mississippi to 1905, when John B. Sneed, established The Sneed Agency. In 1931, The Sneed Agency merged with the Hewes-Washington Co. Inc. and B. Havard Insurance Agency to form Stewart Sneed Hewes Inc. Under the guidance of John Thompson, who assumed the role of president in 1967, the organization grew to be the largest independent agency in Mississippi. BancorpSouth purchased Stewart Sneed Hewes in 1999, as part of BancorpSouth Insurance Services, and changed the subsidiary’s name to BXS Insurance at the beginning of 2018. Comprised of 31offices across an eight-state footprint, BXS Insurance

ranks among the top 50 largest insurance agency/brokerage operations in the United States and in the top five among bank-owned institutions. Its seven Mississippi branch offices are made up of more than 185 employees. While its employees are concentrated in the Southeastern United States, BXS Insurance is a member of the Worldwide Broker Network (WBN) and provides insurance.

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal




Mutual Credit Union

utual Credit Union is a cooperative financial services provider who treats everyone from membership to staff, to its board and leadership teams, to the communities that it serves as one Mutual Credit Union family. Mutual Credit Union maintains attention to service and responsiveness to the financial needs and well-being of those it interacts with daily as top priority. It has “People Helping People.” MCU never loses sight of the fact that it

takes all working together in the cooperative spirit to provide for a brighter future for all. Established in 1931, this year marks 90 years of serving its members and communities. Over the last 90 years, Mutual Credit Union has grown from a credit union with fifty-six members and assets of $542 to a credit union with over 23,000 members and over $280 million in assets.

LARGE CATEGORY Southern Pipe & Supply 1st Place B eing a Best Place to Work has been a strategy at Southern Pipe for more than 20 years. It is a core strategy it invests in each year. At Southern Pipe, it gives family members (what it calls its employees) the opportunity to live their “pipe dream”. It values their input, rewards their hard work, and makes their success as much a priority as the company’s success. Southern Pipe hires for attitude first, then trains for skill. It looks for work ethic and drive, and consider character to be every bit as important as an educational background or a long resume. The corporate culture is rooted in rela-

tionships and in doing not only what is best for the bottom line, but also what is best for our family members, customers and vendors. Southern Pipe & Supply Company is one of the nation’s largest privately held, independent wholesalers of plumbing, heating and air conditioning, water and sewer, and industrial materials.

40 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue

LARGE CATOGORY RIVERWALK - 2nd Place R iverwalk Casino Hotel promotes teamwork and communication through an open door policy and an Ambassador Roundtable Program. The diversity and talent of its workforce is one of its greatest strengths. Riverwalk offers a work setting where everyone is treated fairly and with respect and dignity. It is committed to giving back to its community. It participates in many community sponsored events and conduct its own

Congratulations Byrne Zizzi CPA, PLLC on being chosen a

2021 Best Places to Work

in-house drives to benefit community organizations. Riverwalk offers an excellent benefits package which includes medical, dental and vision insurance and a 401k plan in which team members are fully vested from day one. Other benefits include life, disability, accident, critical illness, tuition reimbursement and an employee stock purchase plan. Riverwalk Casino Hotel opened in October 2008 under the ownership of Rush Street Gaming, LLC. Riverwalk was acquired by Churchill Downs, Inc., in 2012.

You’re Gonna

Love It Here Work for a company that offers great benefits and a culture that supports your success — both on the job and beyond. Ready to apply? Visit to find your dream job. Jackson Branch 877 Northpark Drive, Suite 100 Ridgeland, MS 39157 800-677-1137 | 601-572-3850 ©Copyright Employers Mutual Casualty Company 2021. All rights reserved.

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



MEGA LARGE CATEGORY Viking Range - 1st Place


iking is a community within a community.And even though Viking products ship around the world, the company has always stayed true to its roots in Greenwood, Mississippi. Viking employees believe in our products and what our company stands for. Their hard work, determination and elbow grease have helped push Viking to where it is today. These are Viking people, and they are our greatest asset. Viking Range introduced professional performance to the home kitchen with

our flagship ranges in 1987, and a culinary revolution was born. Thanks to demand and innovation, our line quickly grew into the complete Viking kitchen (both indoor and out). The Viking Life embodies the epicurean lifestyle available through its products, relationships, Viking Cooking Schools, and its world-class Alluvian Resort. In 2013, Viking became part of The Middleby Corporation, the largest commercial kitchen equipment manufacturer in the world.

Yak Access -2nd Place Y AK ACCESS offers its employees benefits including company paid life insurance, short term disability, paid holidays and vacation time. It also has a remarkable 401K program to help employees save for retirement. It offers a 5 percent match to employees with no vesting period. It also hosts many yearround activities for its employees such as Book Club with the CEO, appreciation days, office potlucks, coffee truck visits, gift a turkey to each family for the Christmas holiday, the annual crawfish boil and

Christmas party. In 2016, YAK ACCESS was created to unite the expertise and tenure of various matting and service companies under one roof. These companies work closely together at every stage of a project to provide total access solutions to all companies within the construction and energy industries. YAK MAT, NEW SOUTH, BLUROC, and KLEIN, independently serve the construction and energy industries by providingaccess solutions.

Jones Companies -3rd Place J ones not only promotes but also invests in its employees’ personal and professional growth. Through programs such as internships, Jones Leadership Academy, and exclusive educational opportunities tailored to employees’ specific needs, Jones offers holistic training to support wisdom, wealth, and wellness management. Jones also offers 401k with a 5% company match as well as health plan coverage and competitive salaries. Jones began as a small family lumber business with a simple mission: to help

communities, provide jobs and enhance lives. Over the past 72 years, with passion and entrepreneurial spirit driving it, Jones has built multiple businesses that continue that legacy. Today, Jones carries on that mission by being a growth oriented, value added capital partner to businesses and management teams that share its common values and vision for long term, sustainable growth that benefits all stakeholders – customers, communities, employees and shareholders.

42 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue

North Mississippi



(662) 365-7021



R ROO E L FIN EE G H W Residential • Commercial • Industrial FREE ESTIMATES

Licensed and Insured 411 CLARK ST. ❖ TUPELO ❖ 844-4481

1410 SOUTH GLOSTER / TUPELO / 662-842-3611




Commercial Plumbing Gas & Industrial Piping

662-447-3213 Thank you for choosing RH Plumbing. We appreciate your business.

PONTOTOC RIDGE REALTY, INC. 49 S. Main St. | Pontotoc, MS | 662-489-2848

398 East Main Street • Tupelo, MS CDF Building • 2nd Floor • 662-821-2500 •



Achieve greater network performance with less.





Commercial Cleaning


Whether You’re Hauling or Delivering, Call Dwayne Blackmon Chevrolet for Your Commercial Vehicle Needs!


(662) 891-5000

Commercial Plumbing


Waste Removal


Building Supplies



Real Estate


Automotive Commercial

Business Directory

Measurable Cleaning. Guaranteed Results.®



1101 West Main - Tupelo 662-842-3774

RES 1-888-893-2830 Office: 662-837-4087 Fax: 662-837-9564 1041 CR 549 • P.O. Box 598 • Ripley, MS 38863

July 2021 Issue


Mississippi Business Journal



(662) 231-4262


(662) 321-1201


(662) 255-4404




44 n

Mississippi Business Journal


July 2021 Issue

Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.