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INSIDE — Healing tattoo: Hattiesburg Clinic offers first-of-its-kind service






May 16, 2014 • Vol. 36, No. 20 • $1 • 24 pages


» Not all studies show minimum wage hike in negative light P 4 » State study concludes minimum wage hike could clobber job market, slow economic growth P 4 Strictly Biz {P 3} » COLUMN The future of transportation: Innovative designs and funding

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Gaming world divided about Internet By FRANK BROWN I STAFF WRITER

BILOXI — One year ago, Internet gaming was about to make its big splash. New Jersey was on the forefront and some estimates put the potential revenue haul at $1.2 billion in the first year. Today, there is a shortage of players, a shortage of credit card companies participating and a lack of unity among states and owners interested in jumping into the i-gaming Freeman market. Mississippi is one of those states. “We’re a small state and can’t compete within our borders,” Mississippi State Rep. Bobby Moak, DBogue Chitto, first chairman of the Legislative Gaming Committee, said last week Moak during the Southern Gaming Summit. “Actually, we couldn’t compete when we passed the gaming act in the early ‘90s, but there was no competition except for Louisiana, and, even though we had a small population, people came here, and we were up there among the top three or four gaming sitess. “I think, Mississippi should have the opportunity to do that with Internet See


FRANK BROWN / The Mississippi Business Journal


BILOXI — Forbes says Tilman Fertitta is worth $2.4 billion. He became a wealthy businessman by making smart decisions, being opportunistic and having a busines-isbusiness attitude. But even when the owner and CEO of Fertitta Entertainment walks into one of his three

Golden Nugget casinos, one thing scares him — the changing landscape of the customers. “One of my scariest things that is young people do not play slot machines,” said Fertitta, who was the keynote speaker kicking off last week’s Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi. “I go to all these places, it’s not young people playing slot machines.” See

YOUNGER, Page 12

2 I Mississippi Business Journal I May 16 2014

HEALTH CARE offers medical tattoos and permanent makeup procedures. Both Olsen and Pecunia report that demand has exceeded expectations, and they expect demand to keep rising as Hattiesburg Clinic tries to get the word out that the service is now available for the first time in Mississippi through an accredited health care facility. In only approximately a month of launching the new service, Olsen has performed dozens of procedures at the clinic. Hattiesburg Clinic does not offer the growing yet controversial service of medical alert tattooing. Rather than wear a medical bracelet, some patients prefer to get a tattoo on their body to warn health care providers of a preexisting condition such as diabetes. The medical community does not back medical alert tattooing, and Pecunia said Hattiesburg Clinic has no plans to offer that service. One challenge HatBecky Olsen tiesburg Clinic’s medMedical tattooist, Hattiesburg Clinic ical tattooing service does face is insurance. Many insurers refuse to cover medical tatprocedure effectively. toos, even if they are to cover scars from So, approximately two years ago Hat- surgery. Pecunia said while he understands tiesburg Clinic started working toward many insurers balk at paying for vanity bringing in a medical tattooist. The clinic procedures such as permanent makeup, it didn’t have to look far for their person. is upsetting when they will not cover Becky Olsen is a native Mississippian clients who have been disfigured from surand certified tattooist who formerly gery, illness or accident. owned a beauty-enhancement business in “We fight that battle every day with innearby Columbia offering such services as surance providers,” Pecunia said. “It is electrolysis hair removal. Over time, she very frustrating.” saw a growing demand from clients seekStill, Pecunia said Hattiesburg Clinic being medical tattooing and cosmetic proce- lieves demand for medical tattooing will dures such as permanent makeup. One only grow, and while the clinic has no plans client in particular led Olsen into looking to add another tattooist at this time, it is a at medical tattooing. distinct possibility in the future. “I had a person come in who had no eyeOlsen certainly hopes so — on a probrows and had gotten permanent makeup fessional and personal level. She said the in Florida to hide the condition. The procedure had not been done well, and It was rewards of her work are many. Mental attitude is key to recovering from a medical horrible,” Olsen remembered. Looking to offer a better, healthier envi- procedure or accident, and medical tatronment for such procedures, Olsen sub- toos offer a new lease on life, and Olsen sequently went to Baton Rouge, La., said seeing a patient walk in with a scar putting in approximately 70 hours of work or disfiguration and walk out with a smile and performing more than 100 procedures is fulfilling. “When I was a child, I was in a fourto earn her medical tattooist credentials. Olsen brought that service back to her wheeler accident,” Olsen said. “Fortunately, business, which she has now closed to work I did not suffer significant scarring, but I can’t help but think when I look at my full-time at Hattiesburg Clinic. “I like to say that if plastic surgery is clients that could have been me.” the cake, medical tattoos are the icing,” For more information on medical tatOlsen added. tooing at Hattiesburg Clinic, visit Through Olsen, Hattiesburg clinic now

Healing tattoo » Hattiesburg Clinic offers first-of-its-kind service BY WALLY NORTHWAY I STAFF WRITER

Until about a month ago, Mississippians looking to get a medical tattoo to cover a scar from a medical procedure or accident had but one option — a tattoo parlor. Now, however, they have another choice — Hattiesburg Clinic. “We found that many of our clients are uncomfortable going to a tattoo parlor,” said Richard Pecunia, MD, FACS, a provider with Hattiesburg Clinic Plastic Surgery who was instrumental in bringing medical tattooing to the clinic. “These are clients who are cancer survivors or have suffered some sort of trauma. They already have a poor body image, and going to a tattoo parlor is just too uncomfortable for many of them. Now, they can get

a medical tattoo at a safe, accredited health care facility from a trained, credentialed medical tattooist.” Pecunia added that many clients need medical tattoos in sensitive areas, such as mastectomy patients looking for areola reconstruction or those disfigured in an accident. Pecunia saw many of these clients, and was moved to act. Looking to fill the demand personally, Pecunia tried his hand at medical tattooing, but found he lacked the level of skill to perform the



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May 16, 2014


Mississippi Business Journal



FOR THE MBJ: Hibbett Neel Jr.

The future of transportation: Innovative designs and funding


S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visited Jackson on April 17 as part of a five-day, eight-state bus tour aimed at drumming up support for the Highway Trust Fund, which will run out of money this summer if Congress doesn’t agree to replenish it. For those of us in the transportation business, the possibility of federal funds drying up is obviously not good news, but the fact that maintenance for our roads and bridges is woefully underfunded is not new news. We’ve been dealing with it for years, finding new and innovative ways to build and fund roads and other projects while exploring alternative means of transportation. As a long-time member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, I have seen the transportation engineering field evolve. This year, as international president of ITE, an organization with chapters in 90 countries and some 17,000 members, I have traveled more than ever and had an opportunity to see what is happening in other states and cities around the U.S. and even in other countries. What I have seen is a change in the way we fund transportation maintenance and projects and in the way we are planning for the future. From a technical standpoint, progressive cities are embracing the concept of complete streets when making improvements. That means incorporating bike paths on roadways and building more, wider sidewalks for pedestrians, creating more walkable communities. That means more signage and safer crosswalks, intersections and roundabouts, which have proven to be effective in slowing traffic and reducing accidents. In most cases, these progressive cities dedicate a portion of their revenues, usually through sales taxes, for transportation improvements. Statistics show that in larger metropolitan areas, more younger people are living downtown and living more active, outdoor lifestyles. They are driving less and finding alternative means of transportation, whether it’s walking, cycling or public transit such as busses and rail. More fuel-efficient vehicles, combined with less miles driven and less fuel consumed, means we are collecting less money through fuel taxes to pay for improvements. At the same time, the cost of maintaining and/or adding to our infrastructure, is rising. Still, roads across the U.S. remain crowded and badly in need of repairs. At ITE, our goal is to provide an environment where our members have the tools to not only design the complete streets and walkable communities of the future but also compete for the funding needed to bring these innovative projects to fruition. In Mississippi, we are blessed with a good network of roadways and are seldom faced with long delays due to congestion. However, we all depend on those roads to be well-maintained. And funding that maintenance has been a long-standing issue. Each time we purchase fuel, nearly 19 cents per gallon goes to the Mississippi Department of Transportation to maintain state and county roads. An additional 18 cents per gallon goes to maintain the Federal Aid Highway System. That tax has not been raised since

1987, despite recent calls for increases and the rapidly escalating cost of construction and maintenance. And while 36 cents per gallon might seem high, consider this: It’s much W. Hibbett Neel Jr. higher in some other countries. When I visited Holland recently, I discovered that gasoline cost $9 per gallon, with $6 of every gallon going to taxes. Some states have raised fuel taxes, with the money earmarked for roads. Virginia expects to raise about $626 million more in fiscal year 2014, while Pennsylvania officials say they’ll raise some $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion per year over the next five years. In Arkansas, a ½-cent sales tax increase is expected to provide $1.8 billion for transportation improvements and new construction over the next 10 years. On July 1, 2015, Oregon will begin a pilot program in which 5,000 volunteers will pay 1.5 cents per mile they drive. They will be refunded the 30 cents per gallon tax they spend on gas. Another way to fund infrastructure projects is through local-use taxes, like the 1-cent sales tax that was passed by Jackson voters in January. City officials hope that levy will raise some $15 million to $20 million a year over the next 18 years to upgrade their aging water and sewer systems and repair crumbling and pothole-filled roads. This will help address some critical needs, but these funds are not earmarked solely for roadways and instead will also be used for drainage and water improvements. Unfortunately, Jackson is the only city our state legislature has authorized to use a local sales tax option to maintain its infrastructure. Most cities depend entirely on their share of regular sales taxes and property taxes. Transportation is also a health issue. It’s no secret that Mississippi ranks highest in obesity, and providing more sidewalks and separate bikeways, along with adequate public transportation, would provide an environment that promotes healthy communities by encouraging more walking and biking. As transportation engineers, we must also do a better job of educating our policymakers about our local and state-wide infrastructure needs. For example, to resurface a road costs $50,000 to $60,000 per lane mile, but to rebuild a street costs up to $400,000 per lane mile. The longer we wait, the more costly repairs become. Raising fuel taxes is a political hot potato for Mississippi politicians. Local-use taxes might be a more palatable sell to our citizens. The bottom line is that we must act now, locally and nationally. We must be innovative and be good stewards of our tax dollars. During his visit to Jackson, Secretary Foxx told The Associated Press that while riding a bus through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi he saw highway conditions that illustrate See NEEL, Page 13

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State study concludes minimum wage hike could clobber job market, slow economic growth Net Change to Total Employment as a Result of Raising the Minimum Wage in MS 0

“We might see the job loss moderate a little bit.” Pete Walley Director, Economic Development Planning Bureau

the following year (2016) and to 4,897 the year after. Job losses would peak at 9,139 in 2028 before beginning a decline to 9,128 in 2029 and ranging from around 9,000 to 8,800 through 2035.


Minimum wage workers who stay employed after the jump to $10.10 an hour would share in $494.6 million annually in wage growth, with retail workers garnering the bulk of the growth at $72.4 million. Wage levels for the lowest paid food service workers would grow by $68 million a year $53 million a year for minimum wage earners in state and local government. Mississippi workers receiving wages at or below the minimum wage comprise about 6.4 percent of hourly workers, the study said, citing 2012 statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS that year estimated that 45,000 Mississippi workers received $7.25 an hour or less. Of these, 23,000 were paid below minimum wage. While Walley acknowledges Mississippi lawmakers are unlikely to require a pay hike for the state’s lowest paid workers, voter support is very strong nationwide for President Obama’s proposed increase of the minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $10.10 and tagging later increases to the annual rate of inflation, making a higher national wage likely in the near term. A federal increase to $10.10 would not cost Mississippi as many jobs as a state-enacted increase — but only slightly so, Walley said. He based the marginal difference between the effects of a state or federal increase on an increased pace of in-andout migration of workers that would occur with a higher wage mandated for all states. “We might see the job loss moderate a little bit,” with a unilateral increase at the federal level, he said. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee — all with some of the nation’s highest perSee


NOT ALL STUDIES SHOW MINIMUM WAGE HIKE IN NEGATIVE LIGHT By TED CARTER I STAFF WRITER Raising the minimum wage is a huge job killer? It’s just not so, at least in the fast-food and retail sectors, says a 2010 study by Arindrajit Dube, T. William Lester, and Michael Reich titled “Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders.” By comparing employment in a county affected by a minimum wage increase to an adjacent county with similar economic conditions but a lower minimum wage, Dube and his colleagues isolated and measured the impact of the wage increase on employment. In the study, economists Dube of the University of Massachusetts, Lester of the University of North Carolina, and Reich of the University of California compared See























Putting significantly more money into the pockets of Mississippi’s lowest paid workers through a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour could actually deal a hard blow to the state’s jobs picture, personnel income levels and a key indicator of economic health, Gross Domestic Product. So says a report by the University Research Center of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. Raising Mississippi’s hourly minimum wage to $10.10 would cost the state over the following 20 years the an annual equivalent of about double the number of jobs provided at both the Nissan and Toyota plants, according to job loss projections compiled by the study’s author, Pete Walley. Walley, director of the University Research Center’s Economic Development Planning Bureau, put the job loss in the first year of a state-enacted minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour at 1,766 jobs, going to 3,483











» University Research Center study puts the job loss in the first year of a state-enacted minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour at 1,766 jobs and peaking at 9,139 loss jobs by 2028

May 16 2014


Continued from Page 4

could cost the nation 500,000 jobs, though the CBO further noted data showed actual losses could range from zero to one million. Walley’s analysis used what he describes as a “robust” model prepared by Regional Economy Models Inc. The study used a simulation model consisting of 160 Mississippi economic sectors, he said. The policy variables changed in the model were production costs caused by higher labor costs and “wage bill” related to the higher rates of pay employers would pay workers. Each variable carried an equal amount, the

centages of low wage earners — have no state minimum wage law. Federal rates apply in these states. Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, while tipped employees such as waitstaff may be paid as little as $2.13 an hour, but must be paid the difference if their total income does not add up to $7.25. Already this year an estimated 2.56 million U.S. workers will get a boost in their paychecks with the raising of minimum wage levels in 13 states. RANK OF INCREASE IN TOTAL ANNUAL Of the 2.56 million WAGES BY ECONOMIC SECTOR workers estimated to benefit from the inTotal Increase crease, 1.4 million will in Annual be directly impacted. They currently earn the Wages Rank Industrial Sector minimum wage and will $72,374,399 1 Retail trade be bumped up to the $68,059,240 2 Food services and drinking places new rate. Another 1.1 million make just over $53,107,450 3 State and Local Government the new minimum $22,932,363 4 Accommodation wage, and thus are as$18,740,990 5 Construction sumed to receive a raise $17,040,355 6 Farm as employer pay scales are adjusted upward to $10,247,725 7 Wholesale trade reflect the new mini$10,081,322 8 Real estate mum wage. $9,852,376 9 Services to buildings and dwellings Walley’s study proj$9,537,602 10 Offices of health practitioners ects the net change to real personal income related to a minimum wage increase to go up by $389 million in 2015 before declining to $326 million in 2016 and continuing to decline through 2023, when study said. The model employed by Walley theorizes that init reaches $7.2 million. After that, personal income drops creases in business production cost will decrease the relinto negative territory at $21.8 million in 2024 and conative competitiveness of a regional industry through tinues to decline yearly until it reaches a negative $266 reduced market share. The result is lower output and million in 2035, according to University Research Cenless employment demand, according to the model. ter study. Walley said creating a workforce able to fill high A further negative the study noted: A lowering of skilled jobs would help counter the loss of jobs a miniMississippi’s GDP by $589 million from 2015 mum wage hike would cause. “This sounds so passé, but through 2028. The prospects for jobs losses have come to the fore- it is incumbent on us to hold up the mantra that the infront of the minimum wage debate in recent months. A dividual has to gain more skills to keep the economy up.” study by the Congressional Budget Office projected a fully implemented minimum wage increase to $10.10

Net Change to Personal Income ($000) as a Result of Raising the Minimum Wage in MS $500,000
































Mississippi Business Journal


Continued from Page 4

employment among every pair of neighboring U.S. counties that straddle a state border and had differing minimum wage levels at any time between 1990 and 2006. They analyzed employment and earnings data of over 500 counties and found that minimum wage increases did not cost jobs. “No adverse employment effects” were found, the economic researchers reported. “When we include state-level linear trends or use only within– census division or within–metropolitan area variation in the minimum wage, the national-level employment elasticities come close to 0 or even positive.” The researchers acknowledged their results would differ from more typical nation-level studies because their study examined adjoining local areas with different minimum wages. “Traditional national level studies, however, have produced a more mixed verdict, with a greater propensity to find negative results,” they said. The findings in the 2010 study conflict significantly with a Mississippi study issued in late March and conducted by Pete Walley, director of the University Research Center’s Economic Development Planning Bureau. Walley’s study warns a state-enacted wage increase to $10.10, and to a slightly lesser degree a federal increase of the same amount, would cost the state thousands of jobs annually through the next 15 years. Further, the increase would erode real personal income and diminish the state Gross Domestic Product, he warned. Although Walley cites the2010 Dube study in his analysis, he said he knows of no mainstream economists who think the minimum wage can be raised without causing businesses to lay off workers and slow their hiring. Walley acknowledged that with a $10.10 minimum hourly wage, Mississippi’s lowest paid workers would have about $72 million a year in additional income. And he concedes that the money is likely to be spent on goods and services. The problem he sees, Walley said, is that the spending will be on goods made outside the state or country and by service companies based outside the state, thus diminishing the economic spinoff benefits. Meanwhile, after a recent Gallup Poll found that around 75 percent of Americans support a higher minimum wage, some conservative politicians joined with their progressive counterparts to advocate a wage increase. Just last week, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called for the wage hike. “I think we ought to raise it. Because frankly, our party is all about more jobs and better pay,” the former Massachusetts governor said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last Friday. Romney’s comments came less than two weeks after fellow 2012 GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Paul Pawlenty voiced support for a higher minimum wage during appearance “Morning Joe.” Santorum is a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and Pawlenty is a former governor of Minnesota. Business leaders are also speaking out. Fred Deluca, CEO of Subway, said in an interview with CNBC last Wednesday that he had reversed his earlier opposition to an minimum wage increase. “Over the years, I’ve seen so many of these wage increases,” he said. “I think it’s normal. It won’t have a negative impact, hopefully, and that’s what I tell my workers.” John Gainor, CEO of Dairy Queen, said in an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow last Thursday that workers need to be paid a fair wage. “The current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which leaves millions of Americans in poverty, just isn’t fair.”


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

Website: May 16, 2014 Volume 36, Number 20

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MBJPERSPECTIVE May 16, 2014 • • Page 6


School accountability needs clarity, fairness


ississippi’s public schools face unintended, unfair and unhelpful outcomes in state accountability rankings if the U.S. Department of Education does not approve the state’s plan to freeze those rankings during the transition to the greater rigor of the Common Core standards. Public schools don’t know what they must do to achieve an A, B or other ranking on state tests in process statewide this week, making efforts a shot-in-the-dark because the state has not received approval from the federal government for its new accountability model. The Mississippi Legislature re-

quired that federal approval in a law it passed in 2013. In addition, Mississippi’s plan to freeze rankings at current levels until in-school preparation for the tougher Common Core State Standards is completed is in limbo. The state Department of Education had told local school districts that this year’s state tests would not be used to determine a district’s grade unless they improved it; now there is some doubt as to whether federal education officials will go along with that. This creates an unfair situation for those districts which, acting in good faith based on what they had been told, focused all their at-

tention on Common Core and not on the current state curriculum frameworks. Not having given full attention to what students will be tested on this week, schools and districts can realistically expect to see a decline in rankings if the federal government refuses to allow those rankings to be frozen. The state doesn’t seek anything like a free ride or even a weakening of standards, just consistency and adequate time to meet the demands of change and heightened expectation. The constant movement and reshaping of See VIEW, Page 7

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



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MELISSA KILLINGSWORTH Sr. Account Executive • 364-1030 VIRGINIA HODGES Account Executive • 364-1012

Poultry growers reeling from April 28 tornados

TACY RAYBURN Production Manager • 364-1019 CHARINA RHODES Circulation Manager • 364-1045


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

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

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

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

oultry growers are looking for some help after the April 28 tornadoes that caused tremendous damage on farms and the loss of more than a million birds in four Mississippi counties. The Mississippi Board of Animal Health reports more than one million birds were lost to the tornadoes or subsequent power outages. Winston, Wayne, Newton and Scott counties reported 58 houses with major damage and 17 houses with minor damage. Tom Tabler with the Mississippi State University Extension Service said many poultry growers have significant recovery expenses but no options for income except disaster money. He said some of them may have lost their homes in addition to their poultry houses. “There will not be any quick fixes for these farm families,” he said. The Extension Service hosted a meeting with poultry growers on May 8. Winston County grower Tim Hobby said he lost 10 broiler houses and 234,000 birds. About half of the birds arrived four days before the storm, and he said the others were placed in the houses about two hours before the tornado barreled through. Hobby said his immediate need is debris removal. “I would need 2 miles of roadside to pile all this within 10 feet of the right of way for the county to pick up. There is just too much for that to work,” he said. Mike Sullivan of the U.S. Department of AgriculSee POULTRY, Page 7


May 16, 2014 I Mississippi Business Journal





Appropriate action should be taken in senate race Editor, The Cochran campaign’s explanation of Kay Webber’s role and activities as a D.C. staff member is perfectly reasonable and, for my part, unnecessary. What is of greater interest to me as a constituent and GOP voter is that her home was repeatedly listed in legal documents as his primary residence and that other legal documents listed his Oxford home as a secondary residence. This issue bears much more scrutiny in the midst of accusations that Sen. Cochran has long been out of touch with those he is elected to represent. And who is responsible for certifying Cochran’s eligibility as a candidate under the law? Is it the Federal Election Commission, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the State Republican Party, or all of the above? Hopefully, appropriate actions or explanations will be soon forthcoming for the voting public or else we may need more than voter ID to protect us from election fraud. Rita B. Anderson Clinton, MS >> Letters should not exceed 300 words in length as a general rule. >> Letters can be sent to The Editor, The Mississippi Business Journal, 200 North Congress, Suite 400, Jackson, MS 39201, delivered to the newspaper during regular business hours or e-mailed to They may also be faxed to Ross Reily at (601)364-1007.


Tea Party flyer twists facts


he “Tupelo Tea Party” last week distributed a disinformation flyer concerning the National Guard’s 155th Brigade Combat Team in Mississippi. The flyer’s premise was that the historic 155th will be shut down because Sen. Thad Cochran voted to confirm Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense and Hagel is a “yes man” for President Obama. “It’s time Senator Cochran is held responsible for putting Mississippi in this situation,” says the flyer. False premise. Twisted facts. In reality, the Tea Party put Mississippi in this situation. It was the Tea Party push for budget cuts that resulted in the “sequester” that slashes $500 billion from military budgets over 10 years. Such steep cuts require reductions in force. Mississippi is blessed with more than its share of outstanding active duty military, National Guard, and Air National Guard missions and facilities. That didn’t happen by accident. Sen. Cochran, former Sen. Trent Lott, former Congressman and now Sen. Roger Wicker, the late Congressman G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery and former Congressman Gene Taylor — all of whom had clout on defense or appropriations committees — spent years building up these missions and facilities. Newer congressmen have helped maintain them. As the military makes cuts, our numerous missions and facilities can’t help but be impacted, along with those in other states. Fighting off Army, Navy, and Air Force attempts to make deep cuts to Mississippi units will be hard. The issue with the 155th is part of an intense tug-of-war between Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army Chief of

Staff, and National Guard leadership. Odierno wants to maintain as many active duty combat-ready units as possible. Bill Crawford The National Guard says its combatready units should stay because they cost one-third of what active duty units cost. (Hagel wants fewer, better armed, active duty units.) Odierno would deactivate six National Guard Brigade Combat Teams from 28 nationwide. The 155th could be one of them. The active duty Army also covets the Apache attack helicopters at the 155th Army Aviation Support Facility in Tupelo. Sen. Cochran and other Republican members of the Mississippi congressional delegation are on top of this issue. Early last week, the senator joined with Tea Party favorite Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Lindsey Graham and others to introduce legislation that would halt the active duty Army plan. Congressman Steven Palazzo voted later in the week to include a provision in the House Defense Authorization Bill that does the same. Just as it takes congressional clout to gain military missions and facilities, it will take clout to keep them. We learned that lesson well during the BRAC rounds. So, Tupelo Tea Party, if we want to keep the 155th, we need to keep Sen. Cochran. Nobody has and uses clout for our military as well as he does. Bill Crawford ( is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

Continued from Page 6

ture’s Farm Service Agency told growers the agency hopes the livestock indemnity portion of the new farm bill will move along faster than it did in the old farm bill. “These recent tornadoes are the first time we are implementing the new legislation. Unfortunately for Mississippi, but fortunately for those impacted, we have a lot of experience handling disasters,” Sullivan said.


Continued from Page 6

education standards and requirements is powered by good intentions, but inconsistencies and confusion won’t help in reaching long-term goals. The U.S. Department of Education should allow the rankings earned in 2013 after that year’s testing to be held in place until school systems statewide all have had adequate time to transition to the new Common Core standards. Complex missions demand precision, and that’s what the accountability process during the transition to Common Core lacks. The premise is simple: Schools should know going into a school year how they will be evaluated. Schools may not find out until after this school year is over how and whether they’ll be measured. That’s not good process or policy, nor does it even make sense. Nothing’s to be gained in requiring the use of test scores based on assumptions that changed in mid-stream. — Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

8 I Mississippi Business Journal I May 16 2014 AGRICULTURE

Mississippi beekeepers regain key weapon against varroa mite – for now » Makers of HopGuard II, considered the most effective and safe miticide available, had been prohibited from shipping the product into the state By TED CARTER I STAFF WRITER

Mississippi’s beekeepers have caught a break from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after going nearly half a year without access to a primary miticide to combat varroa mite infestations, the biggest threat to honeybee colonies. Use of BetaTec Hop Products’ HopGuard II requires a federal exemption from Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce applied for the exemption in January and did not receive the waiver approval until late April. State agriculture officials can seek the exemptions if significant losses of an agricultural commodity are likely. This exemption for HopGuard II expires Dec. 31. John Campbell, director of the ag department’s Bureau of Plant Industry, said the state will seek to avoid another gap in HopGuard II access by filing this summer for an exemption to follow the one that expires Dec. 31. Section 18 emergency exemptions require that the state show an emergency is occur-

ring. ”They take considerable work to get,” Campbell said. The makers of HopGuard II, considered the most effective and safe miticide available, had been prohibited from shipping the product into the state, according to Campbell. The agriculture official said it is hoped the EPA will grant full approval for HopGuard and HopGuard II, thus making requests for new exemptions unnecessary. He said the state’s honeybee industry has been under much duress for about the last four years. The arrival of HopGuard II on the market has helped significantly to prevent the spread of varroa mite infestations. The mites have built up immunities to earlier miticides. And still other miticides pose risks to the cones. All of which means, said Campbell, “there are very few products to use.” HopGuard II uses cardboard strips treated with potassium salt of hop beta acids to control varroa mite infestations. The strips are inserted into honeybee colonies or packages of adult worker bees before they are installed in a honeybee colony. The varroa mite is a honeybee parasite that feeds on adult bees and developing broods. If left untreated, varroa mites can

FILE / The Mississippi Business Journal

The number one threat to honeybees worldwide, it is the varroa mite.

lead to deformation of bees and potential loss of the entire colony affected, state ag officials say. HopGuard II is the first pesticide to be dropped directly into the colony, according to Jeff Harris, honeybee specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Unlike earlier products, HopGuard and HopGuard II are soft chemicals that don’t contaminate the cones, Harris noted. The miticide is the most effective and safe product currently available for protecting honeybee colonies, Harris said. “We are a small industry. It’s hard to get products made for us.” Although Mississippi has only a handful of commercial beekeepers who typically keep from 3,000 to 4,000 colonies each, the state is a national leader in production of honey, at about 98 pounds per colony. “It is because of soybeans,” Harris said, citing

the late May to fall growing season for the row crop. “They bloom in the part of the year there is nothing else to forage on” for the honeybees, he noted. Detailing the history of the varroa mite in the United States, Harris said he first encountered the mite in Louisiana in 1982 and believes it came to the United States from Eastern Russia through infesting colonies of Western Honeybees cultivated there. The Western Honeybees’ counterpart – the Eastern Honeybee prevalent in Asia – had grown immune to the varroa mite. Once they jumped ship onto Western Honeybees colonies around the world, “We began seeing declining colonies worldwide,” Harris said. “When you ask what is the Number One threat to honeybees worldwide, it is the varroa mite,” he noted. “The mite reproduces in the colonies and feeds on the pupa of the honeybee. As the baby bees infected by the mites grow up, they carry viruses, Harris explained. “We believe the viruses from the mites are killing the bees.” The most vulnerable are the baby bees that have the virus. They show shriveled and deformed wings, “and a host of other problems,” Harris said. “When you have bees with deformed wings, that is a good indicator that your colony is very sick.” While HopGuard and HopGuard II are safe and effective, the varro mites eventually will become immune to them and a new miticide must be developed, Harris said.


Darius Rucker to play first concert at new green space

FRANK BROWN / The Mississippi Business Journal

Workers on the Gulf Coast continue demolishing what was to be a Margaritaville Casino, with plans to turn the property into a green space and concert venue across U.S. 90 from Harrah’s Gulf Coast Casino.

BILOXI — Work continues to develop a 10 1/2-acre green space and concert venue along the beach across U.S. 90 from Harrah’s Gulf Coast casino, formerly Grand Biloxi casino. The casino resort just announced country star, Darius Rucker, will hold the first outdoor concert on the new green space on June 21. The site is replacing the remains of the old Margaritaville Casino project, an eyesore was purchased by Caesar’s Entertainment, which owns Harrah’s. The site will have grass and a boardwalk along the water. Jason Wald, a project manager with Yates Construction, said Harrah’s officials want the area to be open to the public. Community Development Director Jerry Creel said once the new green space is up and running, it could lead to more economic development in East Biloxi At one point, a $700 million Margaritaville Casino was being built on the site, but construction stopped after the recession of 2008. Yates’ workers are dismantling thousands of tons of concrete and steel to make room for the new green space. Parking will be in the Harrah’s parking garage and people will access the beach by the two crossovers above U.S. 90 — From staff and wire reports

May 16 2014


Mississippi Business Journal




Follow the Seafood Trail » New program aims to boost restaurants, commercial fishing BY WALLY NORTHWAY I STAFF WRITER

No two industries were more affected by the explosion in 2010 of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig than restaurant/hospitality and commercial fishing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The oil spill that spewed hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico kept tourists away and left Gulf Coast-caught seafood with a black eye Cashion among consumers. However, a new promotional effort has been launched to assist those industries’ recovery, and it is being funded by BP, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon. Inspired by the success of the Mississippi Blues Trail and Mississippi Country Music Trail, just this month Mike Cashion, CAE, executive director of the Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association (MHRA), unveiled the new Seafood Trails Program, a tourism-promotion initiative that spotlights restaurants that offer Coast-caught seafood. Cashion explained that last year’s program “Every Shrimp Has a Tale” — also funded by a BP Tourism Promotional Fund grant (part of BP’s settlement with the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee in the wake of the oil spill) and aimed at giving consumers a chance to track their shrimp from the Gulf to their plate — was successful, and BP wanted a similar program this year. However, the Every Shrimp Has a Tale Program was limited to a 13-week run, was very technical and expensive, relying entirely on BP funding. So, looking to 2014 Cashion had a different vision. “I wanted to create a legacy program, one that was less technical and expensive and could stand on its own and benefit restaurants and the seafood industry long after the BP grant money is gone,” Cashion said. “We have music trails here in Mississippi, and other states have culinary or food trails. We’re looking to do the same here in Mississippi, creating a trail that is more narrowly focused on seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.” To be considered for inclusion in the Seafood Trails Program, restaurants must offer at least five menu items featuring seafood caught in the Gulf of Mexico through Dec. 14. Cashion and Grady Griffin, MHRA’s educational director, will oversee the project, and a focus group will manage marketing and advertising as well as

media purchases. Other criteria include: • During the time periods selected, participating restaurants must exhibit marketing material as provided and as applicable. • Participating restaurants agree to train and educate their staff on the Seafood Trails

• For grant reporting purposes, participating restaurants must submit to MHRA data on any sales increase or decrease over the same period from the previous year and provide operator feedback on the pros and cons of the program. • Participating restaurants agree to comply with the provisions of the program’s memorandum of understanding. Under no circumstances may participating restaurants

Cashion emphasized that the Seafood Trails is a pilot program, and is currently open to Coast restaurants only. However, if the program shows returns, the trail could expand in the future to included any Mississippi restaurant meeting the program’s requirements. Backers are buoyed be the early response. Cashion held a news briefing on the new initiative in Gulfport on Wednesday, May 7. More than two dozen restaurateurs attended. By Friday, May 9, Cashion had “a stack” of applications from prospective program participants on his desk. “All I kept hearing from attendees (of the news briefing) was, ‘This is a no-brainer,’”

“I wanted to create a legacy program, one that was less technical and expensive and could stand on its own and benefit restaurants and the seafood industry long after the BP grant money is gone” Mike Cashion Executive director, Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association

Program to enhance the guest experience. The MHRA will, at the invitation of the participant, provide on-location service training for the participating restaurant at no cost to the restaurant. • The MHRA will play no role in either pricing of product or pricing of menu items. Securing approved product is the responsibility of participating restaurants, and the MHRA will provide consultation whenever possible.

misrepresent product being featured in the Seafood Trails Program. Featured products must be of Gulf of Mexico origin. • Participating restaurants will be subject to random product audits to ensure the integrity of the marketing claim. In the event of a material breach of any of the provisions of this agreement, the MHRA reserves the right to discontinue the participation of the non-compliant restaurant.

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Cashion said, “and we have gotten heavy media coverage.” When asked if he felt that the public relations nightmare cause by the 2010 oil spill was behind local restaurants and the Mississippi seafood industry, Cashion hesitated, then said, “Well, it’s changing.” For more on the Seafood Trails Program, visit

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10 I Mississippi Business Journal I May 16 2014


Tunica struggles, Coast rebounding — but eyes are on the east By FRANK BROWN I STAFF WRITER

BILOXI — While state gaming officials are paying close attention to the revenue downfall at casinos in Northwest Mississippi, they’re also watching their back on the southeastern flank for any signs of trouble that could impact the Gulf Coast. The future of the floundering Tunica market and the potential impact of casino rumblings in Alabama and Florida were discussion among participants at the Southern Gaming Summit last week in Biloxi. “The north is struggling,” said Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. “I don’t think they’ve found their bottom yet. But operators are pulling together to figure out how to combat the competition, and they’re doing a good job. At some point it will become stable, because it’s a great place to gamble. “The lower river districts are consistent. It’s not changing much. We have good offerings, and surprisingly, they continue to upgrade their properties. “The Gulf is where all the activity is today. That’s a great thing. You can go from Hancock County to Point Cadet, and most properties have continued to invest in their property. I think that will continue, with the one caveat that there’s no more competition from Alabama or Florida.” It is outside competition that has left a damaging impact on the Tunica market – a market that was once one of the top des-

tination sites for gamblers nationwide. The explosion of gaming nationally took much of the destination traveler, and developments in Arkansas and other midwest states have attracted some of the convenience Bennett or local gambler. In the first quarter of 2014, Gulf Coast casino gross gaming revenue is up 0.6 percent over the first quarter of 2013, while the river casinos are down 5 percent over that same period last year. Harrah’s Tunica has become the first victim of Fertitta the slumping market. It will close this summer. “It’s a shame to see what’s happening in Tunica,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “But I’m proud to see Caesar’s doing whatever it can to help the 1,300 employees with the other properties in the region. “It speaks to the maturing of gaming. Obliviously when Tunica was first established, it didn’t have the same threats from Arkansas and elsewhere. The industry is going to have to adapt to that. I had a good discussion with Godfrey and others about what it’s going to take to help some of these communities thrive. “I was surprised that some of the cus-

FILE / The Mississippi Business Journal

Harrah’s Tunica, one of nine casinos in Tunica County, is the first victim of increased competition and a changing customer base that has hurt casinos in the Delta. The casino and its three hotels will close June 2.

tomers who are being lost are going to the class 2 machines at dog tracks. That’s interesting in that we have to put it in our thinking of what our customers want.” Will those Class 2 machines and outside competition pose the same threat to the Coast market? Florida’s legislative session recently concluded without acting on proposals to expand gaming in that state. Legislators appear to be willing to wait until Gov. Rick Scott completes re-negotiating a revenuesharing deal with the seminole Tribe, which operates properties in south Florida. In Alabama, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians operate three facilities with Class 2 gaming machines (which are bingo-based machines that operate like slot machines). The tribe also has land near Pensacola that it wants to be recognized by Scott so it can set up its own compact to offer Vegas-style play. Scott has not acted on that request. “You’ve been reading where the Poarch Creek Indians have been trying to sneak into Escambia County, Fla., and that does concern me,” said Godfrey. “They have a right to do that, but it concerns me as to the effect it will have on the Mississippi Gulf Coast market. “ “The crystal ball in Alabama remains murky,” said Christopher E. Jones, managing director and senior gaming and lodg-

ing analyst at Telsey Advisory Group. “I don’t think there’s any clear decision on future gaming, but it’s a very volatile environment. But I think it is one of markets we’ll eventually see more broad-based legalization at some point. “The Poarch Creek Indians have done a phenomenal job in taking advantage of this dislocation in the gaming enforcement in protecting their land interests in building class 2 facilities,” said Matt Sodl, managing director and co-founder of Innovation Capital. “They have three casinos, and they continue to expand. The stronger they get, the more difficult it is going to be to have a commercial gaming plan in that state.” The Poarch Creek Indians have designs on an I-10 empire,” said Frank Fantini, editor and publisher of Fantini’s Gaming Report. “They already have interests there. They have a greyhound track, and they have a little facility they would like to be recognized as pari-mutuel.” “The good thing here in Mississippi, you have regulators, partners in government and Rep. Richard Bennett, who see gaming as part of their economic development strategy, and that’s a huge step compared to how other areas look at it,” said Freeman. “That will position Mississippi to come out of it better as we come out of this economic recession.” A new baseball stadium — MGM Park at Beau Rivage — being built in Biloxi for a minor league baseball team is just one of the new amenities under construction to attract visitors to the coast. The Beau Rivage Resort & Casino is across U.S. 90 from the park and is leasing the land to the city. The Biloxi team will begin play in April. The City Council recently scrapped its project management contract and will soon hire a contractor, which will save money and speed up the construction. The stadium is at U.S. 90 and Interstate 110. FRANK BROWN / The Mississippi Business Journal

May 16 2014


Continued from Page 1

gaming. I think we’re doing nothing but holding back people in the state who have invested in this industry. “We have had legislation introduced, and it has not been considered,” said Moak, who has introduced legislation in three straight sessions. “Next year is an election year in Mississippi, so it again probably won’t be considered again, but it will be introduced.” “We already have Internet gaming in the U.S., but it’s unlawful Internet gaming and it’s an enormous market,” said John M. McManus, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary for MGM Resorts, which owns the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. “Laws are in place that clearly outlaw the activity, but it didn’t stop it. If you prohibit internet gaming in the U.S., you’ll leave it to the outlaws.” Most agree that Internet gaming will be common in the United States eventually, but the form remains the point of division between states and casino operators. Smaller states like Mississippi and Nevada would like to see national legislation providing the framework, which states having the option to participate. Larger states, like New Jersey, would prefer to have their own rules. “Unfortunately, it appears it will be a cumbersome state-by-state approach,” said McManus. “You will have to reinvent the wheel with each state. You’ll end up with different rules in each state. For Internet poker, in particular, where you need a volume of consumers, that becomes a challenge for the small state like Mississippi and Nevada.” “I just don’t see any appetite in this Congress to pass gaming legislation,” said Kelly Duncan, a partner with Jones Walker law firm. “For the industry, I think is better to have federal legislation.” While New Jersey’s state projection was $1.2 billion, the first quarter of this actually saw revenues of $31.6 million, which was closer to the $150-200 million projections of the Innovation Group, said that company’s research analyst Jennifer Day. “A lot of analysts didn’t consider the period needed to ramp up,” she said. “Also, they still have some credit card companies not processing payments. In New Jersey, only 4246 percent of credit card transactions had been accepted. Only 44 percent of Visa payments were accepted and American Express is not even accepting transactions. “Also key is finding a way to market to people,” Day said. “In New Jersey, it’s no longer a piece of the gray market. It’s connected to existing casino and it is highly regulated.” “It expands the market. Caesar’s Entertainment reported that 91 percent of online players were not in their land-base database. Of the 9 percent who were in the database, they saw an increase in play at the brick and mortar sites. “And there’s a different demographic of online gamers – they’re younger, there are more women, and they tend to be more educated and spend more.” “We have somehow taken a position of wait and see, which gets back to Innovation


Are I-gaming, sports betting right for Mississippi? By FRANK BROWN I STAFF WRITER BILOXI — With casinos revenues sliding, gaming officials and operators in Mississippi could be on the verge of making a sizeable gamble to protect the state’s interests. The state Legislature recently asked Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Gaming Commission to lead a task for looking into the viability of internet gaming and sports betting in Mississippi. The panel won’t make legislative proposals, but will examine how safeguards such as under-age and compulsive gambling are working in other states. The panel met for the first time last week at the Southern Gaming Summit. “Whether it’s right for Mississippi is still the question,” said Rep. Richard Bennett, D-Long Beach, chairman of the House Gaming Committee. “I don’t know if internet gaming is the way to go. I don’t know if technology can keep up with safeguards for underage gaming and cheaters. Bennett said there was a lot of interest from the legislature to add sports betting to the task force. “I asked Godfrey to put it together and for us to look at it. We know sports betting is happening, it’s just not taxed. With neighboring states like Alabama, tennessee and Louisiana holding large NCAA events, that puts Mississippi in better position for sports betting,” said Bennett. That’s different from Louisiana, which would avoid sports betting because it has an professional football team and hosts major events like super bowls, said Ronnie Jones, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. “I think the path Mississippi is taking is appropriate,” said Joseph L. Billhimer, President and COO of MTR Gaming Group, and former casino executive in Greenville and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “I would encourage Godfrey and his staff to go through and get smart of the issue. “I think Mississippi has shown great leadership in the gaming market. I would encourage, given the revenue flatness, that they seize that opportunity to move expeditiously to be at least be in play. “I’m not optimistic about the revenue potential of internet gaming nor do I feel federal legislation will be in our future. So I think it will take form on a state by state basis, so I think Mississippi is doing the right thing by studying all the issues and then coming out with a recommendation, and again, given my experience in Mississippi, I think the legislature will act and push the agenda forward.”

“Internet gaming is a bust.” Tilman Fertitta CEO, Fertitta Entertainment

Group’s comment about a ramp up period,” said Moak. “It would be great to be at the head of the pack on this, but we’re in a wait and see position. “Internet gaming is happening, but we’re not getting any tax revenue from it, and it’s not regulated.”

Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, said his group is focused on common cause, and is waiting for the two sides to come together before that organization gets involved. “Internet gaming has become much more complex in the last six months,” he said. “It’s


Mississippi Business Journal



an issue where two sides have dug in pretty deep. One side supports federal intervention and prohibition, and one side supports states’ rights and the ability to innovate as industry. The AGA won’t be involved in that debate today.” The possibility of underage gaming, compulsive gamblers and fraud are the major arguing points against internet gaming. “Whether it’s religious or child protection issues, I hear the same thing just about everywhere,” said Moak. “I spoke to colleagues in Nevada recently and they have many of the same arguments come up. There are a lot of religious arguments and several of us have taken our hits because of that. “But you would be tapping into a market that’s not currently gaming in the land-based houses and would do it online, or you can capture that market that’s doing it illegally.” “We have division within the industry, pointing out things they think may be problematic with Internet gaming,” said McManus. “Internet gaming has been thriving in Europe for quite a long time. It’s not like they don’t have the same concerns we do. “Many of the fear mongers and other arguments don’t stand up to logic. I’ve visited sites in Europe and India, and it is remarkable what you can do with technology to protect players. “The vision of someone in a beach house in Costa Rica with a laptop ripping people off — that’s what you can get with illegal i-gaming. “I think we all would agree there is a sizable market out there,” said Darold Londo of Tunica, a senior vice president with Caesar’s Entertainment, owners of Harrah’s Gulf Coast, Horseshoe Casino Tunica, Tunica Roadhouse Casino and Harrah’s Tunica, which is closing in June. “That market is in all 50 states. I has 1,700 operators, it is offshore, and it is illegitimate. There are cheats and frauds and other issues with that market. And, by the way, there’s no tax revenue with that market. “So the real questions becomes, do we have a duty to stand up against that marketplace. I think we do.” Tilman Fertitta, owner and CEO of Fertitta Entertainment, which operates Landry’s restaurants and the three — soon to be four — Golden Nugget casinos, including one in Biloxi, has yet to see the benefit in Internet gaming. “Internet gaming is a bust,” he said. “I’m in New Jersey, and I’m going to lose $7-8 million doing it this year. That’s the reason we haven’t rolled it out in Nevada – I think it will cost us $10 million. I don’t think there’s enough people to play it. Then you have to get all the big banks to get online. “I’m just rolling the dice myself in case it works out in the next couple of years.” Said Moak: “A prediction — since next year is an election year in Mississippi, I think it will be very difficult for Mississippi to pass a full-fledged legislation. So, let’s fast forward to 2016, if you get it on the floor, I think you can do it. The opportunity has been there, and I think you can get it done in some form.”

12 I Mississippi Business Journal I May 16 2014


Continued from Page 1

The overall industry concern is that Millennials are not as interested in the casino experience as baby boomers, which some see as contributing to the overall flatness in casino revenues. “I think slot machine companies have done a good job of creating games for young people, but they want to play table games,” said Fertitta. “I can beat you x-number of times a year on table games, but I never get beat on slots. And I think it’s a problem.

“At the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, in the nine years I’ve owned it, I think of how many of the older players who were huge slot players who have passed on — and that is scary to me. “It’ll be interesting to see where we are in 20 years. It’ll be interesting to see we’re able to convert this new generation to slot players.” “It’s still a very good business,” said Joel H. Simkins, a senior gaming analyst with Credit Suisse LLC. “But certain markets are suffering. When I talk to developers, it’s a core baby boomer demographic. We know these people are going to move on or spend less as they get older or develop health care issues.

“The industry needs to broadly think about how to get a younger demographic into the building. Those people are playing social games right now. They’re not really seeing casinos as appealing.” That trend has also caught the attention of game developers like Gaming Laboratories International, where Patrick Moore is senior director of tech compliance. “In the last 12 -18 months, we’re starting to see more innovation,” he said. “We don’t know the future, but we know the demographics are changing. If you can’t get the next generation to play slots, it will severely damage the casino properties.”


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So, how do you bridge that gap? “Some may jump to the furtherest extreme, the purely skill-based dexterity style games. We’ve seen that in concept — things like driving a race car and see how you do. “You’ll see gradual baby steps with games. Today’s younger players don’t like the idea of starting from scratch every time they start a game session. It’s about the experiences. ‘How much have I played this game? What level am I on? What rank am I?’ It’s what driving a lot of social gaming today. “I think you’ll start to see that with gaming devices. And you’ll hear it called a couple of things like exponential gaming or adaptive gaming. The idea that it’ll recognize who you are and have stored information about your progress in that game. It will allow you to have new content and new experiences through the game and then pushing even further. Joel H. Simpkins If you get to a certain level Credit Suisse, LLC you’re going to get bigger payouts, better odds, bigger prizes. “Those kind of things that can’t happen today because of the regulatory process. Those are the types of decision points that will come up. That regulatory process is one that concerns Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. And he likes what he sees of that process in Mississippi. “The question is: how can casino and policymakers work together?” asked Freeman. “How do we diversify? How do we understand our customers needs, and how do policy makers enable us to provide that? “Is the next generation, with their iPhones and iPads, going to be interested in sitting at a slot machine? Probably not, but that’s what law allows us to provide. That said, are they interested in skill based game? Are they interested in mobile gaming? We have to answer those questions, and then hope we have the partners to get it done. “In Mississippi, I’m pleased to see policymakers see it as a partnership. They see gaming as one component in their economic development strategy. That’s the way to look at it. We have other communities where they look at it as a necessary evil. We’ll take the dollars but then we’ll tie your hands.”

“In the last 12 -18 months, we’re starting to see more innovation.”

May 16, 2014


VDCI lands mosquitoabatement contract With spring comes mosquitoes and the threat of West Nile virus, but one county is taking a proactive defense. The Hinds County Board of Supervisors members have awarded a mosquito abatement contract to Vector Disease Control International (VDCI). Terms were not disclosed. VDCI has an office located in Jackson, and has been serving the Jackson metro area since 2001. The company provides mosquito surveillance and control programs based on the American Mosquito Control Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for managing quality mosquito control programs. “Because it is often impossible to eradicate all mosquitoes given their behavior patterns, resilient nature and enormous breeding potential, our goal is to manage mosquito populations within tolerable levels and simultaneously help prevent possible outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases. To achieve this goal, we use a combination of the most effective methods of controlling mosquitoes including surveillance, public education, biological control and the use of insecticides. Inspection of the treatment area coupled with collections from mechanical traps enable us to determine which species of mosquito are present, their population size and locations. This information is critical for determining when, where, and how often larvicides and adulticides need to be applied,” said Kris New, regional director for VDCI. Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham said, “This will provide a systematic approach to monitoring the mosquito population in Hinds County. We will have the benefit of knowing what species of mosquitoes are in our local area and which ones actually carry the West Nile virus. VDCI will routinely trap mosquitoes and test them.”


TanTec to locate tannery operations in Vicksburg , Mississippi — ISA TanTec is locating its first U.S. tannery operations in Vicksburg. The project, which will be known as Mississippi TanTec Leather Inc., represents a $10.1 million corporate investment and will create 366 new jobs. German-owned TanTec is recognized by the world’s top footwear brands as a supplier of premium quality leathers. Thomas Schneider, CEO and president of ISA TanTec, anticipates a successful venture at the company’s new Vicksburg facility. “ISA TanTec is confident that its third location — its first in the United States — is the right strategic approach for further growth and development of the most modern tannery group in the world. With the domestic market and supply of leather to the South American region, ISA TanTec will strengthen its competitive advantage and offer sustained profitability for our shareholders,” said Schneider.

— from staff and MBJ wire services


Mississippi Business Journal




Castilla elected 2014-2015 MEC chair, new leadership positions announced JACKSON — Alveno N. Castilla, a member of the Business Services Group and a partner with Butler Snow LLP, has been elected as the 2014-2015 Mississippi Economic Council Chair. David Gates, president of the Mississippi Division at Atmos Energy, was elected to serve as the 20152016 chair. Robin Robinson, director of organization Development and corporate communications at Sanderson Farms Inc., was elected as 2016-2017 chair. William Yates III, president of W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company, will serve as treasurer for 2014-2015. Castilla joined Butler Snow in August 2012. Prior to joining Butler Snow, Castilla was a tax partner with Watkins Ludlam Winter & Stennis, P.A., and its successor, Jones Walker LLP. Castilla is also a CPA, licensed in both Mississippi and Tennessee. He is a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation and a former member of the Mississippi Bar Board of Commissioners and former president of the Capitol Area Bar Association. He belongs to a number of professional organizations, including the District of Columbia Bar Association, the Mississippi Society of CPAs, the Sections of Taxation of the Mississippi Bar, the American Bar Association and the American Institute of CPAs. Castilla serves on Gov. Phil Bryant’s Mississippi Works committee and on the Blueprint Mississippi steering council. He also served on Gov. Haley Barbour’s Blue Ribbon Mississippi Tax Study Commission. Castilla is past president of the Arts Alliance of Jackson & Hinds County and past cochairman of Jackson 2000. He is currently a member of the board of directors of the following organizations: the Mississippi e-Center Foundation (chair), Mississippi Baptist Health Systems, Eco Jazz NFP Inc. (chair), Mississippi Center for Education Innovation (chair),

Jackson State University Development Foundation and MINACT Inc. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson. “MEC’s strength comes from strong participation of key business and community leaders from throughout Mississippi. These leaders understand what can be accomplished by sharing a common vision and speaking in a unified voice,” Castilla said. “The future of Mississippi business has never been brighter.” Gates began his career in the energy industry with Entex in Houston, Texas. He has been in utility operations management since 1987 and joined Atmos Energy in 1991. In 1993, he was named vice president of technical services for the West Texas Division, and in 2003 he moved to Kentucky to become vice president of operations for the Kentucky/Mid-States Division. He was named president of the Mississippi Division in 2007. He is a member of the boards of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, Jackson Chamber of Commerce, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Mississippi Energy Institute and Mississippi Economic Council where he served as past chair of the M.B. Swayze Foundation and Leadership Mississippi. Robinson began her career at Sanderson Farms in 1978 after graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in business administration. In 2000, she was named director of organization development and corporate communication. She serves on the Sanderson Farms Executive Committee and also chairs the Wage and Salary Committee. She serves as chair of the Jones County Junior College Foundation and the American Lung Association Plains-Gulf Region. Robinson has served as president of the Institution of Higher Learning Board of Trustees, president of the United

Way of the Pine Belt, national president of Business and Castilla Professional Women/USA, president of the Mississippi Federation of Business and Professional Women and has served on the University of Mississippi Southern Mississippi Alumni Association International Board of Directors. At MEC, Robinson was past chair of the M.B. Gates Swayze Foundation and Leadership Mississippi. Yates serves on the board of directors for Trustmark National Bank and Trustmark Corporation. He is currently chairman of the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development and is also on the board of directors for the Gulf Coast Business Council. Robinson He is the immediate past president of the board for the United Way of South Mississippi and serves on the board of the Mississippi Energy Institute. He was the 2013-14 chairman of the Southeast U.S.-Japan Association Annual Meeting. Yates serves on the Millsaps College Board of Trustees, the Yates Blueprint Mississippi Advisory Council and the Mississippi Economic Council Board of Directors.


the Mississippi State University Extension Service Center for Technology Outreach, will help fruit and vegetable producers understand how to use social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. Gallardo and his team also will explain the benefits of suing those mediums and other Internet resources to connect with customers. Extension service employees also will be on hand to help growers who want to set up an Internet presence. Patrick Jerome of Rainbow Co-Op Grocery and chef Troy Woodson of High Noon Cafe will help growers understand the needs and requirements

of the specialty food market. “Growers should know who their customers will be before they plant their first seed,” said Keith Benson, director of the Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production Demonstration Farm. Representatives with the University of Mississippi Transactional Law Clinic also will be on hand to offer business advice in confidential, oneon-one sessions. The field day is scheduled for May 16 at the demonstration farm at 1184 Coleman Road in Goodman, north of Jackson.

billion transportation bill over the next four years. That would be a great start but won’t alter our mission at ITE to continue to find innovative and alternative ways to design, fund and maintain our surface transportation for our users.

The Institute of Transportation Engineers is an educational and scientific association of transportation professionals who are responsible for meeting mobility and safety needs. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., ITE was founded in 1930 and now has some 17,000 members. It has chapters in 90 countries. There are 80 section/district chapters in the United States and 130 student chapters.

Farmers to get latest online marketing As farmers look to get their crops in the field, an event is planned to also help them get their crop to market Farmers can learn online marketing techniques and networking strategies during an outreach event next week in Holmes County. Roberto Gallardo, an associate professor with


Continued from Page 3

the need for more funding. “It highlights, again, the fact that our maintenance needs are expanding as a country and we’re not keeping pace with them,” Foxx told the AP. “So even doing better with what we have is becoming a challenge in America right now.” President Obama is asking Congress to fund a $302

Hibbett Neel co-founded Neel-Schaffer Inc. in 1983 and continues to serve as president of the Jacksonbased engineering and consulting firm.

— from staff and MBJ wire services




Old McRae’s now part of

The cloud The original McRae’s building in Meadowbrook Mall will become a data storage and cloud-based data center.

» Venyu to spend $35M to make vacant store a data storage center By TED CARTER I STAFF WRITER

Baton Rogue, La.-based Venyu Solutions is set to convert the first McRae’s Department Store into the technology company’s fourth data storage and cloud-based data center. Venyu Solutions said data storage equipment purchases and the conversion of the circa 1960 former Fondren store property represent a $35 million investment.

The center that will open along the 300 block of Meadowbrook Road will join two centers in Baton Rouge and one in Shreveport, La. Tony Curb, Venyu’s executive vice president of business development and general counsel, said in an interview last week no time frame has been set for converting the 100,000 square-foot building. “There’s quite a lot of buildout,” he said. “It’s a relatively old building. We’re still in the planning stages.”

Curb said Venyu closed on the property last month and must fortify the building to withstand the wind forces of a strong hurricane. “We take a lot of other things into consideration. The ability to withstand strong wind speeds is one of them. You don’t want to be underneath a wall.” Once operating, the center will employ 30 to 40 people but will also be contracting for services from See

VENYU, Page 16

Photos by Frank Brown / The Mississippi Business Journal


May 16, 2014


Mississippi Business Journal



Photo courtesy of Nissan

Jeffrey Webster directs the Nissan Choir at this year’s Mississippi Economic Council’s annual meeting at the Jackson Convention Complex.

Creative economy? Try the Nissan Choir home and church.” He and Lloyd say they had no trouble recruiting employees for the Nissan A group of Nissan employees at the Choir from the facility’s 6,500 employees. Canton plant have proven they know how Many members sing in their churches and to make music as well as automobiles. are familiar with the gospel music the The Nissan Choir was begun in Febru- choir performs. ary 2010 to celebrate Black History Month “I’m impressed with the choir memand was thought to be bers because they rea one-time thing. hearse and perform on The Human Retheir own time. Those sources Department working on night shift was responsible for will come in early, giving the Black History up some of their sleep Month celebration time,” Webster said. and the choir was the ”We started with 20 brainchild of HR members, and basically employee Heather after four years, they’ve Lloyd. HR Director all remained with it.” Jeffrey Webster went Stephanie Sutton to the first rehearsal Johnson of Jackson has to observe. The choir been with the choir since had no leader and he it began and wouldn’t was enlisted. think of quitting. Four years later, he “I sing with my church Jeffrey Webster and got through college is still leading the Nissan’s director of diversity and inclusion on a music scholarship,” choir even though he was recently transshe said. “I joined because ferred to Franklin, it sounded interesting Tenn., where he serves as Nissan's director and I thought it was to be a one-time thing of diversity and inclusion for the Americas. for Black History Month so I signed up “My family is musical with singers and with a co-worker.” musicians, and I always sang in church,” Johnson, who’s been a Nissan paint says the Columbia, Tenn., native. “We technician since 2003, was pleasantly surhad a mass choir in Columbia and I helped direct it. I was accustomed to See CHOIR, Page 16 gospel music because it was part of my


“I’m impressed with the choir members because they rehearse and perform on their own time. Those working on night shift will come in early, giving up some of their sleep time.”

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16 I Mississippi Business Journal I May 16, 2014


Continued from Page 14

local technology companies and others. “Contractors will be needed in various capacities,” Curb said. “For the community it will bring additional technologies and services to small, medium and large companies. And maybe even new technologies,” he noted. Curb said Venyu had its eye on Jackson for a number of years before committing to the new data and cloud storage center. Included in the decision is the potential for business growth from Metro Jackson companies needing off-site data storage. “Some businesses in Jackson want to be closer to their (data) infrastructure” but don’t necessarily want the storage to be on their premises, he said. Other companies such as ones on the eastern seaboard prefer data be stored in less weathervulnerable locations. Jackson fills that need, Curb said. New centers to follow Jackson are under consideration, but for now the focus is on the Meadowbrook Road project, Curb said. “We see Jackson as a natural fit for our products and services.” The privately owned Venyu provides data and cloud storage as well as data backup and recovery services, all of which require a substantial investment in servers and other equipment. “Customers may buy one or more services from us. Or they may buy them all. This expands our capacity to take on more customers.”

Perspective. Passion. Innovation.

“For the community it will bring additional technologies and services to small, medium and large companies. And maybe even new technologies.” Tony Curb Venyu’s executive vice president of business development and general counsel

Venyu services customers nationwide. As a private company, it does not disclose details on company growth, according to Curb, who added, however, Venyu would not be investing in a new center if business was static. Venyu was in business before Katrina but the company’s success in protecting customer data through the 2005 hurricane proved the value of well-protected data storage. “We have a success story,” Curb said. “A lot of the businesses that would have otherwise been impacted survived Katrina well” in terms of data storage.


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Continued from Page 15

prised at how the choir meshed. “It was great and we all fit like a glove when we got together. There was no animosity or jealousy,” she said. “Everybody is so supportive of each other. We cry together and laugh together. It’s rare to find a group like that.” Johnson works the night shift, which means she has to arrive before her shift to rehearse with the choir, sometimes four or five hours early. Still, she’s dedicated to the group and Webster. “We love Jeffrey and the choir,” she said. The choir sings gospel songs, such as “God Has Smiled on Me,” “God is Keeping Me” and “How Great Thou Art,” chosen by Webster. The singers are accompanied by a pianist, drummer and bass guitarist. All members wear burgundy or gray shirts and black pants. With the support of top Nissan management, the choir has performed for Nissan’s CEO at corporate headquarters and at state events including the Southern Automotive Conference in Tunica, Mission Mississippi, the MEC’s annual meeting in Jackson and for governors and other elected officials. They are gaining a following and Webster says the group is open to future engagements. “Management supports the choir because it’s part of our cultural diversity,” Webster said. “We do it for the love of music and performing. The employees also love the company they work for and having the opportunity to share their faith with others. It shows they can work for a secular company and express their faith.” When the choir sings in the plant’s cafeteria, it draws quite a crowd of employees who aren’t in a hurry to leave. Webster has had the Canton choir sing at his new post in Tennessee, which sparked interest in starting a choir at that location. “We’ve had no negative feedback from anyone about the choir,” Webster added, “and we’re proud to be a part of Mississippi's creative economy.”

“Partnering with a bank that values flexibility, reliability and integrity was a real TURNING POINT for our business.”

Derek Starling Sr. & Willie A. O’Neal Jr.

SOL Engineering Services LLC - Jackson, MS

Get the whole story at

Friends since engineering school, Derek Starling Sr. and Willie A. O’Neal Jr. are the owners of SOL Engineering Services LLC, a company that has steadily expanded beyond its municipal and civil engineering roots. After facing the initial challenges of starting a business, Derek and Willie quickly realized the importance of having a reliable banking relationship and turned to Regions Banker LoRose Hunter. LoRose delivers results for the business with reliability and integrity. While these business partners focus on navigating state and municipal contract bids and managing innovative projects, LoRose helps them aggressively pursue opportunities for growth. Derek and Willie are thankful to have found a banking partner who not only shares their values, but also their vision for moving forward. To see how we can help your business move forward when it’s at a turning point, turn to Regions.

Loans | Treasury Management | Can-Do Attitude © 2014 Regions Bank. All loans and lines subject to credit approval.


18 I Mississippi Business Journal I May 16, 2014 City





204 E. Commerce St., Aberdeen, MS 39730

(662) 369-9440


203 N. Main St., Booneville, MS 38829

(662) 728-5601


1000 Municipal Dr., Brandon, MS 39042

(601) 825-5021


230 S. Whitworth Ave., Brookhaven, MS 39601

(601) 833-1411


100 E. Leake St., Clinton, MS 39060-0143

(601) 924-5912


1102 Main St., Columbus, MS 39703

(800) 748-8882


810 Tate St., Corinth, MS 38834

(662) 287-5269


One Convention Center Plaza, Hattiesburg, MS 39401

(601) 296-7500


715 N. 10th Ave., Laurel, MS 39440

(601) 428-6142


P.O. Box 544, Madison, MS 39130

(601) 317-9756


112 N. Railroad Blvd., McComb, MS 39648

(601) 684-2291

Mississippi Gulf Coast

P.O. Box 7157, Gulfport, MS 39506

(866) 672-6278


P.O. Box 700, Natchez, MS 39121-0700

(601) 445-0288


299 W. Jackson Ave., Oxford, MS 38655

(662) 234-4651


200 Hwy. 11 S., Picayune, MS 39466

(601) 798-9079 (under construction)


8710 Northwest Dr., Southaven, MS 38671

(662) 895-1138


200 E. Main St., Starkville, MS 39759 (662) 323-3322


P.O. Drawer 47, Tupelo, MS 38802-0047

(800) 533-0611


2020 Mission 66, Vicksburg, MS 39180

(601) 636-1012

West Point

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

(662) 494-5121

Source: Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division and individual city websites. Please direct questions and comments to Wally Northway at


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Mississippi Business Journal



Auburn honors Hopper

Robbins named president

EDA mourns Bush’s death

ASU recognizes alumni

Dr. Richard M. Hopper, professor with the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, has been awarded the El Toro Award for Excellence in Food Animal Medicine at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Hopper teaches in the Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine and is an MSU Extension Service veterinarian. Hopper entered private practice in Oneonta, Ala., after earning Hopper a veterinary degree from Auburn in 1978. He later went to work with the MSU Extension Service and became a diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists. He established the theriogenology service at MSU, which has grown to have a substantial multispecies caseload and has maintained a successful resident training program. Hopper has been active in the Society for Theriogenology and served as its president in 2012. He has made numerous presentations at scientific and lay meetings across the U.S. and continues to be a valuable resource to practitioners and students. Hopper recently completed editing a textbook on bovine reproductive medicine and surgery, which includes an international list of contributing authors and promises to become one of the standard textbooks in the field of theriogenology.

Clinton Park Elementary School teacher Donna Robbins is the new president of Mississippi Professional Educators, the state’s largest professional organization for teachers. She will serve in this role during the 2014-15 school year. Robbins began her teaching career in 1988, and has taught third, fourth, seventh and eighth grades. For 23 years, she has taught first grade, and she is in her 18th year teaching at Clinton Park. Robbins She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Mississippi College and has earned graduate hours at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, is on the Move to Learn steering committee and is a former Teacher of the Year at Clinton Park. Robbins and her husband, Rob, have two children, Bryan and Bethany, both Clinton High School graduates. They are members of Bethesda Baptist Church in Terry where he is a bi-vocational minister of music and she is the church pianist.

The Economic Development Authority of Jones County, as well as the entire state of Mississippi and his beloved city of Laurel, lost a dedicated and amazing volunteer when Harry Bush Sr. died recently. One of the founding fathers of the EDA of Jones County (along with Judge Charles Pickering, Vern Geddie, Bob Gaddis and a handful of others), Bush was a leader in many issues that affect economic development not just here locally, but throughout the state. He served on the EDA board from its inception and was still a very active, involved board member at his death. One of his most notable issues was the AHEAD Highway Program, which took the state to prominence in transportation.

Alcorn State University recently held its Hall of Honor induction ceremony. Honorees include the 2014 Alcornite of the Year Clarence Edward Magee (class of 1954) and the National Alumni Association Hall of Honor Inductees Mildred H. Crockett (class of 1973), Jamelda F. Fulton (class of 1996 and 1999), Victory "Vikki" Dillon Mumford (class of 1973), Jerry E. Paige (class of 1978 and 1984), Harper B. Wilson (class of 1964), Ivory W. Lyles (class of 1980), Carnell Lewis (class of 1965), Macelle Richardson Turner (class of 1961) and Dorothy J. Smith Nelson. Magee was born on May 14, 1932, in Columbia. He and his nine siblings grew up in the Improve community and attended La-Marion Vocational School in Marion County and he graduated in 1950. He enrolled at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1950. Magee majored in biology and in 1953, received a bachelor's degree in elementary education. He had an amazing college career as member of the Glee Club (quartet), college choir, member of the Y.M.C.A. and Student Forum. Immediately after graduating he served his country in the Korean War. Magee served two years in the U.S. Army and received awards for participation in the post choir, basketball team and Soldier of the Month for the battalion in 1955. He received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army as a veteran of the Korean War and began his career as a schoolteacher for 13 years at Waynesboro Vocation High School, Prentiss Institute and Hattiesburg Public Schools District. Magee earned a master's degree in education from West Virginia University in 1964 and received further studies at the University of Notre Dame and Miami University. Magee redirected his career in 1969 and began employment as a human resource specialist with the Southern Mississippi Planning Development District. Later, he worked as a food program specialist with the Food and Nutrition Services of the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1998, Clarence retired as a food program specialist with the Food and Nutrition Services of the USDA. Magee is a chartered member and president of the Hattiesburg Association for Civic Improvement; charter member and first secretary of the 1965 community Action Committee; founder and owner of the Francis Street Apartment 85 low-income housing units; diamond life and current president of the Forrest County Branch of the NAACP; vice president of the National Association for Retired Federal Employees; member of the AARP Executive Board; serves as a mentor for Lillie Burney Elementary School, Challenge Program at Camp Shelby and the Hattiesburg Public High School District; active member of the St. James CME Church where he is a steward, church treasurer, trustee and Sunday school teacher; past president and current vice president of the Hattiesburg/Pine Belt Alumni Chapter; annual contributor to the Alcorn State University Foundation Inc. Magee is married to Carrie Mae Bradley and they are the proud parents of two daughters, Veronica Magee Jordan and Karen Magee Taylor, and four grandchildren.

Phillips added to board Ruth E. Phillips is now a member of the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research’s Certified Insurance Service Representatives board of governors. Phillips began her insurance career in 1999, and took her first CISR that year. She currently holds 10 designations — CIC, AAI, ACSR, AINS, API, AIS, CISR, CPSR, CSRM and MLIS. She is currently working on her CRM, ARM, and CRIS designations. Phillips has been actively involved with the International Association of Insurance Professionals until her association disbanded in 2013. During her time with IAIP she served numerous committees and officer positions, including leading the Mississippi Council in 2009. Phillips has also chaired and served on several regional committees for the IAIP and attended several regional and national meetings. She was honored with several awards from the IAIP including the 2003 National Rookie of the Year, 2004 Mississippi Council Insurance Professional of the Year, 2007 Individual Education Achievement Award, 2007 T.J. Mims Award of Excellence, 2008 Mississippi Council Insurance Professional of the Year and the 2012 Region III Insurance Professional of the Year Award. Phillips has also been recognized by the Professional Insurance Agents for her achievements. In 2006, the PIA recognized her as the National Customer Service Representative of the Year. In 2007, the Mississippi PIA awarded her with the Agency Staff Person of the Year Award. In 2001, she was named the Outstanding CSR of the Year for the state of Mississippi by the National Alliance. In 2004, Phillips was named again as the Outstanding CSR of the Year for the state of Mississippi by the National Alliance. However, this time she went on to be named the National Outstanding CSR of the Year. Phillips is currently employed at the McComb branch of Insurance & Risk Managers. She is a personal lines CSR, and she is also responsible for all flood insurance accounts, personal and commercial, for all the branches.

Hospital chooses STARs Memorial Hospital at Gulfport has named the recipients of the First Quarter 2014 Star awards, Memorial’s highest honor. STAR (Service, Teamwork, Attitude and Respect) recognizes outstanding customer service. The recipients are Kari Hertzog, RN, Physician Clinics; Charles Crowley, expressive therapist, Behavioral Health; Teresa Allen, RN, Urology; Amber Tarver, RN, 3 C/D; Denise Hamilton, environmental services aide, Environmental Services; Stacy Page, RN, ICU; Alexis Graves, multi skilled tech, Inpatient Rehabilitation; Margaritta Simon, environmental services technician, Environmental Services; Fred Williams, CRNA, Anesthesia; and Kathy Yon, office manager, Physician Clinics.

Nikodemus overseeing casinos Anton Nikodemus has been named COO of MGM Resorts International Regional Operations. In this new role, Mr. Nikodemus will oversee operations at Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi; Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica; MGM Grand Detroit; development and operations at MGM National Harbor, scheduled to open in 2016 in Prince George’s County, Md., and MGM Springfield in Springfield, Mass. Nikodemus Nikodemus joined MGM Resorts in 2005 and has served as senior vice president of hotel operations for MGM Grand Las Vegas and Bellagio; president and COO of Monte Carlo, and most recently as MGM Resorts president and COO of casino marketing. He currently serves as an active member of MGM Resorts International’s Executive Corporate Social Responsibility Committee. Prior to joining MGM Resorts, Nikodemus served as resort manager for Boca Raton Resort and Club in Boca Raton, Fla. During his tenure, he also served as president of the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Nikodemus is a graduate of Arizona State University with a bachelor of science degree in business and marketing.

Marchand earns induction Gary Marchand, Memorial Hospital president/CEO, was recently inducted into the Roland Weeks Leadership Hall of Fame Class of 2013 as one of the Top Ten Outstanding Community Leaders by The Sun Herald and The Journal of South Mississippi Business. Marchand has more than 25 years of health care experience in a variety of related fields, including hospital administration and finance, managed care opera- Marchand tions and joint venture development. He received his bachelor of science degree from the University of New Orleans and his master of public health degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. He also served in the United States Air Force. Marchand is a member of the Healthcare Roundtable for Chief Executive Officers, Gulf Coast Business Council and is a Paul Harris Fellow with the Gulfport Rotary Club. He is a board member of the United Way of South Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi College of Health Dean’s Council.

Johnson wins election Rosi Johnson, CEO and president of Mississippi Music and Mississippi Music Acceptance Corporation, was elected vice president of the National Association of School Music Dealers (NASMD) during its 52nd annual convention. She is on track to become the first woman to serve as president of the association. Johnson holds a bachelor’s de- Johnson gree in business administration from the University of Mississippi. She currently serves on the board of directors of the National Association of School Music Dealers and is a past board member of the National Association of Music Merchants. She is a member of the Alliance of Independent Music Merchants, American Music Conference, Mississippi Music Educators Association, Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association and Area Development Partnership. Johnson was named the Mississippi Business Journal’s Business Woman of the Year 2011.

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

20 I Mississippi Business Journal I May 16 2014 »EDUCATION

Working with children and financial literacy


t was a crowded room of middle school students getting ready to vie for the title of state Financial Literacy Challenge Champs on a warm spring day. Students milled around the dimly lit room with the energy of their brilliant minds making the room brighter. Middle school students from Germantown Middle, Pontotoc Jr. High, Bassfield High and Carver Elementary advanced to the quiz bowl round that emulates a game of Jeopardy. Question after question was asked by Cory Wilson, the senior advisor and counsel for Lynn Fitch, treasurer of Mississippi. Questions such as “Assume you purchased 100 shares of stock at $5 a share. A year later, the stock value has increased by 10 percent. What is the total value of these shares?” and “Three basic factors affect how money grows in an account. Two of the factors are ‘interest rate” and ‘length of time.’ What is the third factor?” Before you could blink an eye, one of the students was buzzing in with the answer. As an adult you may find these questions simple, but be reminded that the students were 11 and 12 years old. Also understand

Special to the Mississippi Business Journal

The winning team of middle school students in the Financial Literacy Challenge faced a barrage of questions during the Jeopardy-like competition.

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that the world has changed since you were a child. Credit cards were something that your parents probably didn’t have. Now they are something that Swartzfager everyone has. Back in the day, your grandparents did not buy things unless they could pay cash. Now people will buy a soda from the convenience store on a credit card. There are so many financial tools available today that did not exist forty years ago and these tools are not always ones that have favorable outcomes. With the increase in financial decisions that need to be made comes a need for increased financial education. Under the leadership of the Mississippi Council on Economic Education (MCEE), teachers are receiving professional development on financial readiness skills. Specifically, teachers are using the Financial Fitness for Life curriculum. This material is available for K-12th grade teachers and is a comprehensive personal finance curriculum for K-12 students that teaches students how to make thoughtful, well-informed decisions about important aspects of personal finance, such as earning income, spending, saving, borrowing, investing and managing money. Economic concepts form the foundation of all lessons, providing students with a decision-making framework for the

real world. Content is based on national standards, and correlates to standards in economics, personal finance, mathematics, and language arts. With engaging, hands-on instructional activities, these materials engage students of all ages in active learning. Anyone who thinks the Mississippi Council on Economic Education is not making a difference in the level of financial literacy in Mississippi needs to attend the annual Financial Literacy Challenge. Adults that attend as volunteers are blown away by the knowledge level our young people have after being taught by a MCEE-trained teacher. By the way, if you are wondering what the answers are to the questions from the quiz bowl mentioned earlier in this article: $550 and amount of deposit. Ask the middle school children in your life if they can answer these questions. If not, it is time to talk to their teachers about attending a MCEE workshop. Funding for the MCEE Financial Literacy Challenge is provided by State Farm, Security Ballew Inc., Wells Fargo, the College Knowledge Project and the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson with support from BancorpSouth and Millsaps College. » Selena Swartzfager is president of the Mississippi Council for Economic Education. She can be reached at

May 16 2014


Mississippi Business Journal



» MISSISSIPPI LEADERS by Martin Willoughby

Investing in a career Montgomery finds success at Moss Forest Venture


s a business advisor, I am often asked to provide assistance to clients who are considering making investments into companies. One thing I have learned is that investment “pitches” all look great, but the reality of the business can be very differently. I have seen many companies with great potential end up in the business graveyard. In fact, I was employed early in my career with two companies that began with high hopes only to wind up closing their doors. As an investor, it is a real challenge trying to figure out which companies truly can be successful for the long term and which ones will cause you to simply throw your money away. While there is no crystal ball for seeing the future, there are some definite principles that you can follow to become a more disciplined investor in privately held growth businesses. My interviewee this week, Frank Montgomery, managing partner of Moss Forest Venture, is one of the most disciplined and successful private company investors I know. Montgomery is a Jackson, Miss., native who played baseball at Mississippi State before playing professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinal franchise.

Up Close With ... Frank Montgomery Title: Managing partner, Moss Forest Venture Favorite Books: The Imperial Cruise, Reckless Endangerment, Michael Lewis First Job: ”Bagging groceries at Liberty Supermarket on Meadowbrook Road in Jackson. I also had a job fixing meters for Mississippi Valley Gas.“ Hobbies/Interests: Golf, reading, enjoying family and grandkids

When he hung up his cleats in 1967, he moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., where he began a long career in the financial business. During his career, he worked both as a retail broker and an investment manager in several markets including Nashville, Memphis and Houston. In the late 1980’s, he took a position with a firm back in his hometown of Jackson. He noted, “I learned a great deal about investing from many mentors along the way, including Abe Plough, who went on be chairman of Schering-Plough pharmaceutical company.” Early in his career, Montgomery developed an interest in the health care industry.

As an investment manager, he began to track the industry and study healthcare companies. He started going to industry conferences and meeting other people who closely followed the healthcare sector. In early 1981, he was approached about helping an early stage health care company raise money. He ended up gathering a group of friends to invest in the company, which went on to go public and later acquired. This initial investment became Moss Forest Venture followed by 26 additional investments and funding three start-ups. Montgomery is a humble man and is quick to point out that they did not always pick winners.

“I have found in my experience that leadership makes all the difference.” Frank Montgomery

One of the things I noted about their success is the focus. They always made their investments in health care companies. That is where they had knowledge and expertise. I see many in- Martin Willoughby vestors falter when they invest in industries or companies they don’t really understand. Montgomery also explained that they were investing when the health care industry was at the forefront of technological innovation — from life-saving pharmaceuticals to revolutionary medical devices. In addition to the technology and products, he evaluates senior management. He shared, “I always like to visit with the management team to learn more about the business and to see if a quality group was leading the organization. I have found in my experience that leadership makes all the difference. I would prefer to invest in a company that has leaders with the expertise, experience and vision who create a culture of execution than a company with a great product and poor leadership.” Montgomery also suggests considering the coinvestors in the business. The quality of the investors and board will have a great impact on the company. If you find yourself with the opportunity to consider some potential investments, I hope these tips will help you become a savvier investor. Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@

Managing partner, Moss Forest Venture

Reading about eating and cooking is good reading

T » Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties By Julia Reed Published by St. Martin's Griffin $16.00 paperback

he subtitle of this book is An Entertaining Life (with recipes). It's totally appropriate to have recipes as its' a book about cooking and eating, but this is not a cookbook. It's a collection of witty and charming essays about many things to do with food, especially Southern food. Greenville native Julia Reed also gives us food for thought with her wry commentary on a wide range of gastronomic-centered subjects. Everyone who lives in the South — or used to live in the South — will recognize favorite dishes and parties. Of course, cheese straws and toasted pecans are discussed at length. Growing up and as a young married woman, I don't think I ever went to an event where these treats were not served. Recently I attended the opening of Magnolia House restaurant in the

Biloxi Grand Casino. Yep, with a name like Magnolia House, cheese straws and toasted pecans were passed around with drinks. My friend and co-worker who was born and reared in Las Vegas thought they were wonderful. I felt compelled to whisper that the cheese straws were sub standard as they were thick, hard rectangles whereas they should have been thin and wavy (in other words, put through a cookie press).

“ It's a collection of witty and charming essays...”

Reed also pontificates on pimento cheese, deviled eggs, pork chops, red velvet cakes and much more. I chuckled as I read her comments on those stalwarts of Southern cuisine, casseroles. Her husband's favorite, a tuna noodle casserole, is topped with crushed potato chips. With apologies to her husband, Reed holds that using potato chips is close to being in the low class zone. Casseroles should be topped with crushed Ritz crackers! I'm guilty of topping a great chicken casserole with crushed potato chips for two reasons: they're quicker and easier to crush, but mainly because that's one of the few times I have potato chips in the house and I get to eat the leftovers. Reed, who lives in New Orleans and is a contributing editor for Newsweek, does opine on fare from other sections of the country, recalls parties she has given and great chefs she knows, but it's her memories of Greenville parties given by her mother that make the book a delight to read. The recipes at the end of each chapter are a bonus. Even if you never make any of them, you'll enjoy reading about them.

— Lynn Lofton,

22 I Mississippi Business Journal I May 16 2014 THE SPIN CYCLE

The value of public relations is growing in the digital age ublic relations has evolved into one of the most transformative ways to build your brand in the marketplace. The value of PR has increased dramatically in recent history – and in the wake of scandals that have rocked society to the core, such as Enron, WorldCom and the Big 3 automakers (GM, Chrysler and Ford) flying expensive private jets during a multi-billion bailout, the PR counsel has metamorphosized into an integral part of the C-suite. What used to be an industry made up of journalists– turned publicists and marketers, is now a corporate boardroom fixture. And through this transformation, the industry has outgrown those sophomoric clichés of our profession – referring to our craft as spin, our professionals as flacks and our currency as misrepresentation and disinformation. Here is how we’ve grown up in the digital age, and with it changing attitudes and perceptions: » Public relations is more than managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics. It is a communications discipline that engages and informs key audiences, builds important relationships and brings vital information back into an organization for analysis and action. It has real, measurable impact on the achievement of strategic organizational goals. » Public relations and publicity are not synonymous; publicity is a small subset and specialized discipline within public relations, often practiced by dedicated firms who may or may not possess broader strategic communications capabilities. » A survey of chief marketing officers at major national and global advertisers conducted by the Association of National Advertisers found that the value public relations delivers as part of the overall marketing mix is increasing. Why? A few reasons. Public relations is closer to the perspectives, objectives and concerns of corporate CEOs than any other communication or marketing discipline. Public relations also sees “the whole corporate picture,” as it relates to issues that CEOs worry about. Finally, public relations is a key driver of business outcomes critical to organizational success, including crisis mitigation, reputation and brand building, consumer engagement, sales generation, wealth creation, issues management and beneficial shifts in constituent attitudes and behaviors. » Public relations professionals have a special obligation to practice their craft ethically, with the highest standards of truth, accuracy, fairness and responsibility to the public. The Public Relations Society of America code of ethics provides a practical set of standards to follow in this regard. Public relations has served immeasurable public good. It has changed attitudes and behaviors toward some of the world’s most pressing social issues, from breast cancer awareness to drinking and driving to smoking and obesity. The public relations industry also has prevented consumer injury and illness, raised awareness of products that have improved our quality of life, advanced worthwhile causes and provided pro-bono services for institutions that needed public relations assistance but could not afford it.


standard bearer for brands that want to express themselves visually while simultaneously giving people content to use socially. Often this content has no connection to a brand’s brick-and-mortar business, so here are five examples of retailers that are using the platform to tie the digital world back to the physical. 1. Kate Spade uses Place Pins feature to create city guides For Kate Spade shoppers who worry that once they’re all dressed up they’ll have nowhere to go, the brand enlisted the new “place pins” feature. With the pins, they created city guides offering users places to check out in a number of socially acceptable locales in the U.S., Europe and Japan. The program includes a partnership with Fathom Guides, a digital resource for those seeking travel advice through itineraries with names like “It’s My First Time,” “Here on Business,” “Best Day Ever” and “With the Kids.” Culture

Public relations is more than managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.

and fashion newbies will appreciate these guides for their lack of tourist traps and focus on places the brand’s namesake might actually check out herself. Urban Outfitters created a similar place pin set called “The Fresh List,” which is essentially the same thing, just more hipstery. 2. Caribou Coffee asks mall shoppers to inspire a new blend Sometimes connecting digital to physical is simpler than you think. Take Caribou’s recent campaign that literally rebuilt a Pinterest board in the Mall of America. The 64-foottall board included things that inspired actual people (i.e., “summer” and “my kids”) and was billed as an inspiration for a new blend, aptly named the “Real Inspiration Blend.” How the brand translated user submissions into the “bold, silky, bright and wild” blend that their brewers created from the campaign we’ll never know. But that giant board and 5 Brand Campaigns That Bring Pinterest Into Real World the real coffee that resulted represent a new stage in, “phyPinterest, the Internet’s mood board, has become the gital” brand work, to coin a new social phrase.

3. A “Backyard adventures with REI” REI has since its inception had a section in every store where shoppers and employees would post pictures from their various adventures. Usually, these were 5×7 photos pinned to an old corkboard. The company has recently taken that innovation to the Todd Smith Web with “Backyard adventures with REI,” a partnership with power pinner Jennifer Chong, who travels to national parks around the country and takes pictures with her favorite products. It’s a subtle twist on the print magazine sent to REI members each month, which includes — you guessed it — photos of products being used in the wild. The difference between old media and new is palpable: Chong’s images have gotten thousands of repins, while most of those magazines end up in recycling bins or the trash. By the way, REI got into the place pin game as well with “Adventure Destinations.” 4. NBC, Lowe’s and the Ultimate Dream Builders Here’s one that brings TV, the real world and the Internet together in an epic design apotheosis. NBC’s Ultimate Dream Builders is a contest of 12 designers hosted by Nate Berkus. You’ve probably watched it and drooled. This effort follows the show’s template that pits a team red against team blue, only this time they serve up their vision in the same format that makes Pinterest pop in the first place. But in this case, the content here could very well translate to your actual home, resulting in real prize money for the winners. It’s also a great way for Lowe’s to show off the brands they carry: All of the images are from 5. Target collaborates with top pinners for party purposes A recent ad sums up Target’s “Party with Pinners” campaign, which brought together top pinners to create custom party-planning collections. The Pinterest board dedicated to this campaign includes products that fit into the collection as well as inspiration from the pinners. In-store, customers can find special sections with the products. It’s a digital extension of the brand’s partnerships with top designers, meant to give customers the feeling that they can put on well-designed parties without spending a ton. Cool Mic | Coldplay Hides New Album Lyrics In 9 Libraries Worldwide In a kind of low-fi version of Jay-Z's celebrated Decoded outdoor ad campaign, Coldplay is promoting its new album, Ghost Stories, with a worldwide scavenger hunt — hiding lyric sheets in Chris Martin's handwriting inside ghost stories in libraries around the world. Clues were revealed on Twitter, and the lyrics were hidden in nine different countries, one for each song on the record. Eight of the sheets have been found — in Mexico, Singapore, Finland, Spain, England, New Zealand, Ireland and the U.S. The Spin Cycle loves the notion of sending the public back into the library, an oasis that quenched the thirst for knowledge for generations, and has lost its luster to an online, Google-fueled existence. For that, Coldplay grabs the Golden Mic! has details of each discovery. Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand! Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


May 16, 2014


Mississippi Business Journal




The power of paying attention, use it to WIN!


Winter puts damper on Silver Slipper, Full House Full House Resorts, the Las Vegas company that owns Silver Slipper Casino, announced quarterly results this morning and said it had a net loss of $1.1 million for the first quarter (January-March), compared to net income of $0.6 million for the prior first quarter. At its Silver Slipper Casino in Hancock County, the company said it recorded revenue of $12.3 million compared to revenue of $13.7 million in the prior-year period primarily due to severe weather conditions. The six-story $17.7 million 142-room Silver Slipper Hotel now under construction is expected to open by early 2015. Full House said it anticipates the hotel will “favorably impact customer loyalty and financial performance by allowing guests to extend their visits at Silver Slipper Casino.�


Hibbetts Sports to open in Byrum Ward 3 Alderman Theresa Harvey Marble posted on Facebook this week that Mayor Richard White had informed the Board of Aldermen that “Hibbett Sports� has applied for a privilege license and will be occupying the former Super D Store in the Vowells Shopping Center at the intersection of Siwell Road and Terry Road. There’s no opening date scheduled at this time, Marble wrote. In business since 1945, Hibbett Sporting Goods, Inc., operates more than 900 sporting goods stores in small to mid-sized markets, predominantly in the Sunbelt, Mid-Atlantic and the Lower Midwest. According to information on its website.

selling, and sales calls – especially face-to-face sales calls. Using it on the sales call has often led to the right question, the right dialogue, uncovering my prospects buying motives, and big sales. I attribute much of my ability to observe to the fact that I walk in the sales call ultra prepared, and don't have to worry about what I'm going to ask for or what I'm going to say. Rather, I can focus on what's going on around me. I'm observing my prospect, his office, his desk, his way of dressing, his language, and everything about him that my relaxed state allows me to look at and learn. How do you learn? How strong is your power of paying attention? How strong is your power of observation? I find most people to be somewhere between wrapped up in their own world and oblivious. When I see that, I actually smile, because I know how much my own power of paying attention and observation keeps me ahead of everyone else. Okay, so HOW do you observe, HOW do you pay attention, and HOW do you learn? My best mentor (besides my dad) was the late, great, Earl Pertnoy. His mantra was, “Antennas Up — at ALL times.â€? He never missed a trick. HERE’S THE SECRET: It’s not just observing or paying attention. You must “combineâ€? your abilities as you see things to get the maximum understanding: • Combine observing and thinking. • Combine observing and understanding. • Combine observing and asking questions. • Combine observing and coming to some conclusion, idea, or AHA! • Combine observing and comparing to what you already know to be true. • Combine observing with being open, positive, and eager to learn.

I refer to it as self-collaboration. For example, you see something and relate it to past experience or past lessons. Or maybe you relate it to something your parents taught you, or that you learned on a previous job, or learned in school, or learned from your spouse, or learned from your kids, or learned from your best friends, or learned from a customer, or Jeffrey Gitomer learned from a co-worker, or learned from a professor, or learned from a mentor. Get it? It’s what you see — compared or combined with what you already know. Paying attention and observing costs me zero, but it’s worth a fortune. It can be your fortune, too. Paying attention and observing has given me the biggest opportunity for new knowledge and new information. It can be YOUR biggest opportunity, too, if you decide to harness the asset you already possess. Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of “The Sales Bible�, “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless� “Customer Loyalty is Priceless�, “The Little Red Book of Selling�, “The Little Red Book of Sales Answers�, “The Little Black Book of Connections�, “The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude�, “The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way�, “The Little Platinum Book of ChaChing�, “The Little Teal Book of Trust�, “The Little Book of Leadership�, and “Social BOOM!� His website,, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at


Human Rights Campaign pushing anti-discrimination law JACKSON — A national group plans to seek anti-discrimination state laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said yesterday that the Washington-based group is spending $8.5 million for its “Project One America� in the three southern states. The three states do not have laws to protect people from being fired from a job or evicted from housing because of sexual orientation. Griffin, an Arkansas native, said Human Rights Campaign hopes to start conversations in families, churches and other places to show a need for equal protection.

LET’S DEAL! Lease expiring? Need new space? Better Location? 2400sf-9200sf Office/Retail 42,000 ADT Lakeland Dr. Dogwood area, Flowood, MS Also 1 acre Commercial at the entrance to Market Street. Thomas (601)624-1321



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ince my earliest days of personal development study, my mantra has always been stay a student. I attached an affirmation — a strategy — to that the mantra, "learn something new every day." That strategy has worked and manifested itself in the past 22 years of my writing career. I won't bore you with the numbers of books and columns I’ve written, but I will tell you that my entire body of work is based on my personal observations and experiences. I write about what I know to be true. I write about things I have done myself. I write about personal lessons. I write about philosophies I have garnered by reading and observing. I write about strategies I have learned and developed by doing. I write about what I have learned, and I predominantly learn by reading, thinking, observing, and through my personal experiences. My mantra of stay a student and my affirmation of learn something new every day have been enhanced by my “power of observation.� More easily defined, I pay attention to everything and everyone. I consider my ability to observe and create ideas as a result to be my single most important asset besides my attitude. As St. Francis of Assisi said in 1100, “I seek first to understand, then be understood." Many people erroneously believe that quote is one of the “seven habits� from Stephen Covey. He “borrowed it� from St. Francis without ever acknowledging it. Not good. There are very few brand-new ideas. When I get one, if it’s an offshoot of someone else, the first thing I do is acknowledge my source. Makes me feel better, and makes my source a resource, not a copyright infringement. My power of observation has also paid MAJOR DIVIDENDS in sales,

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