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Find out more about the largest construction site currently in Mississippi on page 40.

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BUSINESS QUARTERLY PUBLISHED BY The Madison County Journal PUBLISHER James E. Prince III ASSOCIATE EDITOR & PUBLISHER Michael Simmons LAYOUT & DESIGN Rachel Browning Truong CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Amile Wilson CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Duncan Dent, Mark Stowers ADVERTISING ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Leigh Loecher 601.853.4222 DISTRIBUTION Bing Crosby Madison County Magazine is a bi-monthly supplement to the Madison County Journal designed to promote Madison County in an informative and positive manner. We welcome contributions of articles and photos; however, they will be subject to editing and availability of space and subject matter. Photographs, comments, questions, subscription requests and ad placement inquiries are invited! Return envelopes and postage must accompany all labeled materials submitted if a return is requested. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed in Madison County Magazine are those of the authors or columnists and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, nor do they constitute an endorsement of products or services herein. We reserve the right to refuse any and all advertising. Subscribe to the magazine by subscribing to the Journal,, or call the office at (601) 853-4222 © 2010 Madison County Publishing Company.


MICHAEL SIMMONS In the early-‘90s, I remember my mother coming home from work one day with this big, bulky bag containing something out of a science fiction movie. It was a bag mobile phone, something she had won as a door prize at a conference. This was years before smartphones and even text messaging, when a phone was nothing more than a phone. We rarely ever made calls using the bag phone after receiving the first bill. I remember we were told this was to only be used in emergencies, though it’s safe to say that rule was broken a few times. A few years later, as cellular companies expanded and these phones were seen as the future, the devices got smaller and smaller. More functions were added, and now almost three decades later, the possibilities are endless. Most millennials and younger children will never know what it’s like to be charged per text message — a reason I still hate responding “OK” to someone. Most won’t experience the joy of downloading a new ringtone or playing Snake on an indestructible grey Nokia phone. Another thing most don’t realize is the importance of C Spire to the state of Mississippi, and the Southeast as a whole. I remember a time when it was Cellular South. They were the first wireless provider we had access to that had unlimited text message plans, and calls to other Cellular South customers were at no charge. I also remember their first version of an app store, spending $3 on a 10-second ringtone of the song of the week. Fast forward a few years and C Spire continues to be on the cutting-edge of the technology world. It’s no longer just cell phones and data plans. C Spire is working on everything from Fiber internet to Cloud-based business tools. Their continued investment in

the state of Mississippi is boon to local communities and the state as a whole. In this issue of the Business Quarterly, we are proud to look at the history and the future and how C Spire is transforming the “Silicon South” into this new, revolutionary landscape. wAlso in this edition, we take a look at some emerging practices in the healthcare industry, from telemedicine to direct primary care. Telemedicine is a symbol of the future and how we can use technology to treat patients in rural parts of the state. It’s also a way to avoid lengthy wait times in doctor’s offices for routine procedures. Direct primary care is a re-emergence of an old medical practice, one that’s also designed to eliminate wait times and hassles with insurance. The concept is incredibly popular in Madison County and other parts of the metro and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this model continue to spread. The University of Mississippi Medical Center is transforming a parking lot at Batson Children’s Hospital into a $180 million expansion — the future of pediatric care in the state. The project officially broke ground in 2017 and is set to be finished in 2020. As a father of three small children, there is a special place in my heart for the people at Batson — from the families with small children under their care to the incredible men and women that work in that field. Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe the work they do and so it’s always a joy to be able to highlight them in any way. In addition to a feature on the expansion itself, we give you a glimpse into the nonprofit arm, Friends of Children’s Hospital, that does so much year-in and year-out to put children and pediatric care first. These volunteers are just as phenomenal as everyone else when it comes to trying to create an environment where kids can be kids despite whatever they may be dealing with. Lastly, we memorialize the man that was there for it from the beginning, Dr. Blair E. Batson, who died in November. I hope you enjoy the second edition of our Business Quarterly as much as we enjoyed putting it together. There are some amazing things going on in the metro area and these are the stories we love to tell.




t is always exciting to be a part of the growth of the City of Ridgeland and 2018 has been no exception. The tremendous investment in the renovation of Northpark Mall will continue to make Ridgeland and Madison County a shopping destination. Northpark has been an economic engine for Ridgeland and the State of Mississippi since the early 80’s. The multi-million dollar investment and renovation will continue to provide strong economic benefits for many years to come. We are also excited in the fact that Renaissance Phase 2, 3, and 4 are being constructed. Renaissance Phase 1 has been an impressive addition to our city and now with the development of Phase 2, Phase 3 and 4, the Renaissance will continue to be a very competitive lifestyle shopping center. Another outstanding development that broke ground in 2018 and is under construction is the Horne CPA building. When completed, this building will be a beautiful addition to our City and we are looking forward to the completion in 2019. Also in 2018, several permits have been issued for new hotel facilities such as The Tru Hotel by Hilton as well as the Holiday Inn Express Hotel. We are also looking forward to the AC Marriot Hotel to be under construction in 2019 in the Township. The Mayor and Alderman have also approved the building of the Autograph by Marriott, a Chapel and meeting hall at the Township. We are expecting these to be under construction in 2019 as well. Economic development is always at the top of the list for the City of Ridgeland however, without proper infrastructure, economic development is impossible. We expect the new Colony Park Boulevard to be complete in early 2019 which will provide a great east/west corridor from Highland Colony Parkway all the way to Highway 51. The City also awarded the bid for the box culvert on Lake Harbour Extension and we have been given the goahead to bid the main Lake Harbour Extension Road. All this construction should begin in 2019 and once Lake Harbour Extension is complete along with Colony Park Boulevard this will allow the City of Ridgeland to convert Jackson Street into the downtown area that we have desired to have for so many years.

I will be remiss if I didn’t mention the opportunities given to the City of Ridgeland by grants given by the BCBS Foundation. First of all the Ridgeland Police Department was awarded a grant from the Foundation for their Healthy Hero’s Initiative. This grant award amounted to $91,000 which will be utilized to continue the mission of educating students and first responders on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. With these funds, the Ridgeland Police Department is partnering with two of our local elementary schools to purchase physical education equipment for the students. This equipment will be used to show students how to begin and maintain an appropriate physical fitness program. This equipment will be incorporated into the learning environment of the students along with last year’s grant purchase of educational materials on nutritional fitness. The allocated amount of $14,000 will be applied to physical education equipment and playground equipment. The remainder of the grand funds will be utilized at the Ridgeland Police Department. Preliminary planning is nearly complete on the design and construction concept of a 1,250 square-foot on-site fitness/wellness facility at the Ridgeland Police Department. The construction of a fitness center on site of the Police Department will provide for easy access to exercise equipment and promote a healthier physical lifestyle for the officers and employees of the Ridgeland Police Department. We expect construction on the facility to be completed in early-2019. I also want to mention the fact that the City of Ridgeland was awarded the Healthiest Hometown Award for 2018 by the BCBS Foundation. Our Healthy Hometown Committee worked very hard on this project and we are excited that the City received $50,000 to aid in providing a healthier lifestyle for all our citizens. This is just one more way the City is promoting quality of life through healthy living. As you can see, 2018 has been a busy year and 2019 should be even more exciting. The City of Ridgeland is looking forward to continuing a strong economic environment that not only benefits the City of Ridgeland but will also benefit Madison County and the State of Mississippi.

Gene F. McGee is currently serving his 29th year as Mayor of the City of Ridgeland. Prior to that, McGee served 4 years as a Ridgeland Alderman.

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Trustmark announced earlier this fall that Ben Aldridge has been named Market President for Hinds County and Bernard Bridges has been named Market President for Jackson, Mississippi. “These promotions reflect the continued commitment to our home market,” Jerry Host, Chief Executive Officer of Trustmark stated. “As market presidents, Ben and Bernard will work closely with our business relationships and community partners in their areas of responsibility to further establish Trustmark as a true financial partner.  Both gentlemen have been instrumental in growing and developing business for Trustmark, and I am confident that together they will strengthen Trustmark’s presence and practice of good corporate citizenship in the Hinds County and Jackson, Mississippi markets.” “Ben and Bernard both are well established in the Jackson community and have extensive banking experience, as well as the expertise, business acumen and local knowledge to help companies in Hinds County and Jackson succeed by offering sound financial advice and lending a helping hand to community organizations in the market,” Art Stevens, Retail Banking President of Trustmark stated. Mr. Aldridge joined Trustmark in 2004 and previously held the positions of Senior Vice President, First Vice


ANNOUNCEMENTS President, Vice President and Assistant Vice President in the areas of Corporate Treasury and Public Services. Mr. Aldridge received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a Bachelor of Accountancy from Mississippi State University.  He completed the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University and the Southeastern School of Advanced Commercial Lending in Tennessee.  Mr. Aldridge serves as Board Treasurer for both Operation Shoestring and Downtown Jackson Partners.  He is also Vice Chairman for the Mississippi Guaranty Pool Board and a member of the Rotary Club of Jackson.   Mr. Bridges joined Trustmark in 1985 and formerly held the roles of Senior Vice President, First Vice President and Vice President in the areas of Community Development, Commercial Lending and Branch Management.  Mr. Bridges received a Master of Business Administration from Jackson State University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Mississippi Valley State University.  He completed the Mississippi School of Banking and the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.  Mr. Bridges is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi and the Center for Creative Leadership.  He is an active member of 100 Black Men of Jackson and is Past Chairman for both the Goodwill Industries and the YMCA Metro Chapter.


Trustmark is pleased to announce that Amanda Leigh Conner has been promoted to Corporate Treasury Services Officer. She serves as Merchant Services Product Analyst at the corporate headquarters in downtown Jackson. Conner has nine years of combined banking and merchant services experience. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Mississippi. She is a member of the Junior League of Jackson.

Member of the international organization. Selected for honorary membership late last year, Neel was officially honored during ITE’s annual International Meeting in Minneapolis.

HIBBETT NEEL Hibbett Neel earns highest honor from Institute of Transportation Engineers Neel-Schaffer co-founder and President W. Hibbett Neel, PE, was honored earlier this year by the Institute of Transportation Engineers recently when he was named an Honorary

Honorary Membership is the highest recognition of notable and outstanding professional achievement presented by ITE, which has 15,000 members worldwide. Neel has been a member of ITE for over 40 years and served as the ITE International President in 2014. Only 80 members have received Honorary Member status since 1933, when the first Honorary Member was chosen. “I am honored to receive this award,” said Neel. “But I know what little success I’ve achieved I would not have achieved without the great support of my wonder-

ful wife Susan. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary this year in May. And we have had many talented, dedicated employees who have really made this company a success.” Neel and Gorman Schaffer founded Neel-Schaffer in 1983, primarily as a traffic/transportation firm. The firm has grown from one office with 20 employees to 500-plus employees working out of 38 offices across nine states. “As federal mandates and local priorities emerged, we established offices to provide services to clients throughout the Southeast,” explained Neel. “But you have to have more than office locations to succeed. We brought on engineers with an entrepreneurial spirit, and we put them in positions where they could excel.”

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Anna Hays Honored as Mississippi College Department of Art Distinguished Young Alumna of the Year Anna Hays was honored as the 2018 Distinguished Young Alumna of the Year by the Art Department at Mississippi College during the annual Alumni Association Meeting and Awards Dinner held on October 26 at Anderson Hall on the MC campus. As the Art Department Young Alumna of the Year Hays is a featured exhibit artist at the Samuel Marshall Gore Art Galleries at Mississippi College. Hays was honored with a reception gathering on October 27th to celebrate the 2018 Department of Art Distinguished Alumni. Her graphic design and photography work will be on display at the Gallery through the month of November. The Mississippi College Alumni Association recognizes outstanding service and dedication to MC, professional achievement, and leadership through their Recognition Programs. Working with each academic department on campus, graduates are selected for the Departmental Alumnus of the Year. “I am humbled and honored to accept this award from the Mississippi College Art Department. The education that I received at Mississippi College as a graphic design student has been truly rewarding, and I consider my time at Mississippi College very special with


memories that I will never forget. I would like to recognize the outstanding faculty and staff for their support,” Hays stated. Hays graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mississippi College in 2009 with a degree in Graphic Design. While at MC, she received numerous awards including Graphic Design Major of the Year and the Art Department Rising Star Award. While at MC Hays was inducted into the Mortar Board Honor Society. She worked with Ergon Inc. as a Graphic Designer before joining the Omega Group in 2010. Hays is currently the Chief Operating Officer and Director of Graphic Design with the Omega Group Advertising Agency, a full-service marketing firm in Ridgeland. “We are absolutely thrilled for Anna that she is being recognized as the Distinguished Young Alumna of the Year by the Mississippi College Art Department. The Omega Group Advertising Agency would like to officially congratulate Anna Hays, our COO and overseer of our art direction, for this tremendous honor. Anna is extremely deserving of recognition like this in light of the humility she possesses. She has the professional respect of everyone who knows her, and her artistic talent is certainly validated by this honor. Anna has guided numerous Mississippi College graphic design students through the Omega Group internship program. Through this mentoring role and in her advisory role at MC, she

Anna Hays, Chief Operating Officer for Omega Group Advertising Agency, has been recognized as the 2018 Distinguished Young Alumna of the Year with the Mississippi College Department of Art.

is helping prepare future Mississippi College alums for successful careers. We are extremely proud of Anna’s achievement and recognition as the Distinguished Young Alumna of the Year.” Brent Johnston, President, Omega Group Advertising Agency Hays has developed national brands and designs for businesses, and her work consists of designing and developing creative services including

print, website design, commercial production, digital mediums and photography. She enjoys speaking to university and high school classes and has been a keynote speaker for marketing and media seminars. Hays currently serves on the Mississippi College Graphic Design Advisory Board. She is a member of First Baptist Jackson and is active with charitable organizations.

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RIDGELAND Northpark celebrated its grand re-opening in mid-November following an extensive, multimillion-dollar renovation of the interior and exterior.

The eight-month project represents Phase I of a multi-phase master plan by the new ownership, Pacific Retail Capital Partners of California. For the grand opening celebration, Northpark officials pulled out all the stops and had something for everyone. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held and dozens of city officials and members of area chambers of commerce saw the transformation first-hand.


Later in the afternoon, celebrity chef Nick Wallace held a cooking class in the new Eatery space. An inaugural “Glow in the Park” 5K race was held, with benefits proceeding a local Ridgeland family. “Pacific Retail values Ridgeland and believes business in this community is a good investment,” said Najla Kayyem, senior vice president of Pacific Retail Capital Partners. “Our work with local partners and key business and government leaders help us remain committed to celebrating this region and transforming Northpark into a modernized, family-friendly gathering place. This is a long-term investment in the property, the city, and the people that have created memories


at, and supported Northpark, for generations.” Redevelopment upgrades to the 34-year-old indoor shopping destination include new, modern public entrances, corridors, amenities, restrooms, and common area gathering spaces, as well as a complete transformation of the current food court to a vibrant café-style Eatery, which offers a fresh dining venue to shoppers. Installed in the Eatery is a large, high-resolution media wall that streams live TV, movies, and gaming tournaments, providing entertainment and keeping shoppers informed of the latest, events, deals, and happenings at Northpark. There are also interactive digital directories throughout Northpark and a children’s interactive wall complete with gaming and motion-activated content designed to create an exciting, modern shopping experience for family and friends. This engaging technology allows Northpark to provide a value-added service for their merchants and the community they serve.

Also part of the redevelopment is the addition of a beautiful new Family Lounge featuring private nursing rooms with microwaves, baby changing-stations with sinks, and a large child-friendly restroom. Nearby is Discovery Park, a nature-inspired interactive children’s zone based on Mississippi butterfly species and flora. It is an inviting, open imaginative garden with areas for kids to run, learn, and explore. Discovery Park, combined with the Family Lounge, will create a fresh, energetic destination for families to spend time together. In keeping with the overall look of the redevelopment, and as an homage recognizing the vibrancy of Mississippi, Northpark commissioned its first public art project to muralist and visual artist, Jackson native Douglas Panzone. The large-scale mural wall of nearly 1,200 square feet features four carefully etched representations of the magnolia, the Official State Flower.

Other renovations to Northpark include revital“We are thrilled to show- ized interior and exterior case The New Northpark landscaping, and a total and offer our retailers and parking lot resurface. shoppers a brighter, more lively atmosphere with the Northpark, since first latest in innovative and opening in 1984, has been family-friendly amenities. a vital economic mainstay These changes have truly for the state of Mississiptransformed Northpark pi, Madison County, and into an exciting shopping the City of Ridgeland, experience,” said Kasey providing 40 percent of Dickson, Northpark’s gen- Ridgeland’s tax base. eral manager.

JACKSON St. Dominic Health Services enters into sponsorship discussions with Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Sisters Reduced congregation of Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois, St. Dominic’s sponsor for more than 70 years, made continued sponsorship unsustainable St. Dominic Health Services (St. Dominic’s) announced at the end of September that it has entered into exclusive discussions with the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Sisters to assume sponsorship of St. Dominic’s. The Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Sisters sponsor the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, a nonprofit, mission-focused Catholic healthcare ministry based in Louisiana. The System is comprised of a network of hospitals, clinics, physicians, elderly housing, integrated information systems, and an integrated clinical network. For more than 70 years, the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois, have sponsored St. Dominic’s, helping guide the organization as it provides healthcare services that bless the lives of Mississippi residents both physically and spiritually. After deep discernment, the Dominican Sisters of Springfield decided that in order to secure the future of St. Dominic’s it was necessary to seek a transfer of sponsorship. “We want St. Dominic’s to continue to serve Mississippi for generations yet to come, but our diminishing numbers cannot sustain our role as its sponsor,” said Sister M. Dorothea Sondgeroth, O.P., associate executive director, St. Dominic Health Services Foundation. “It has been a difficult decision, yet it’s the right one for our organization and for our community because it will help St. Dominic’s secure its future.”

After thoughtful deliberation, St. Dominic’s entered into exclusive discussions with the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Sisters to assume sponsorship of the organization. “We are grateful to the Dominican Sisters of Springfield for their commitment to the health of our community and our state,” said Claude W. Harbarger, FACHE, president, St. Dominic Health Services. “We are also grateful for their leadership in championing our next chapter, ensuring the long-term sustainability of our organization.” “We look forward to St. Dominic’s joining our ministry under the sponsorship of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady. We have known and respected St. Dominic’s for many years. They are well recognized for their emphasis on quality and community benefit,” said Mike McBride, chief executive officer of the Franciscan Missionaries of our Lady Health System. “As a Catholic healthcare ministry, this is an important way we can extend our healing mission. Through a change in sponsorship, the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System will continue the legacy of the Dominican Sisters’ ministry and grow Catholic healthcare in Mississippi.” Upon completion of an agreement, expected in early 2019, St. Dominic’s will become part of the Franciscan Missionaries or Our Lady Health System, which currently consists of five hospitals, 1,747 licensed beds, and nearly 2,000 medical staff across Louisiana. Joining a larger Catholic, not-forprofit health system will provide St. Dominic’s the added resources and backing necessary to continue strengthening the high-quality, personalized care that has made it one of the most trusted healthcare providers in the state of Mississippi.

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ENTERGY NAMED NATIONAL LEADER IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Corporation earns honor for the 11th consecutive year For the 11th straight year, Site Selection magazine has named Entergy a Top 10 utility in economic development nationally. The accolade is for Entergy’s role in projects that resulted in some $4.25 billion of capital investment and the creation of more than 4,688 jobs in its service territory in 2017. “We are honored to be included on this list of top utilities in economic development,” said Rod West, utility group president for Entergy Corporation. “For more than 100 years, Entergy has proudly served our communities and the regions our 13,000 employees call home. We’re also doing our part to support these communities by pursuing meaningful economic and business development opportunities across our four-state service area. At Entergy, We Power Life by continuing to invest in the local workforce and grow the communities we serve to help them remain strong and thriving.” Over the 11 year stretch, Entergy has been directly involved in projects that resulted in more than $125 billion of capital investment and more than

96,000 jobs within Entergy’s four-state service territory. Criteria used by Site Selection for its rankings include: • The use of innovative programs and incentives for business • Website tools and data • Each utility’s job-creating infrastructure and facility investment trends “Being a partner in growth in our communities is paramount,” said Ed Gardner, Entergy Mississippi director of business and economic development. “It’s great to know that Entergy’s objectives and actions around economic development are fully aligned with our communities’ goals. For us to repeatedly earn this title says a lot about the character of our company, our employees and our communities.” Entergy provides companies essential information needed to locate, expand and promote their company within the region. Entergy also provides companies with services in site selection, project management, large projects and contracts. To learn more about Entergy Mississippi’s economic development efforts, visit

The sunlight that fuels cotton, corn and soybean growth in the Mississippi Delta will soon fuel a 100-megawatt solar energy farm. This project will be the largest utility-owned solar farm in the state, pending approval of the Mississippi Public Service Commission. The project will be built by Canadian Solar Inc. subsidiary Recurrent Energy, LLC on behalf of Entergy Mississippi, Inc., which will own the facility once it becomes operational. The emissions-free, renewable energy facility will be sited on approximately 1,000 acres in Sunflower County. When the project is complete, which is expected to be by no later than 2022, it will connect to Entergy’s transmission grid in Ruleville. The facility agreement was signed for a base purchase price of approximately $138.4 million. The project will be a single-axis tracking photovoltaic power generator, and its 350,000 PV modules will be able to generate enough clean energy to power over 16,000 homes. “Building the utility of the future means embracing new technologies,” said Haley Fisackerly, Entergy Mississippi president and chief executive officer. “The Sunflower Solar Facility will support our plan to offer community solar to customers who want renewable energy as part of their energy mix.” Entergy Mississippi began studying solar as a renewable energy source in 2016 when the company built three solar pilot project sites in Brookhaven, Hinds and DeSoto counties. “The solar pilot projects helped answer many questions about solar in Mississippi and were the genesis for this larger project,” said Fisackerly. Entergy Mississippi’s solar pilot was the first-ever utility-owned solar project in the state. The three sites produce 1,500 kilowatts of electricity (500 kW each), or enough to power the equivalent of 175 homes. The sites include real-time data monitoring viewable at



ENTERGY POWERS MISSISSIPPI COMMUNITIES WITH $52,000 IN GRANTS Entergy Charitable Foundation partners with nonprofits to provide vital services Teaching families about energy— what it is, where it comes from and why it is important to use it wisely--is the goal of “Conservation Quest.” The program at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and those of 12 other nonprofit groups in Entergy Mississippi’s service area will share $52,000 in Entergy Charitable Foundation grants. “These grants show the many ways Entergy powers life by supporting vital programs and services,” said Valarie Mabry, Entergy Mississippi public affairs representative. “Thanks to our outstanding network of nonprofit partners, Entergy Charitable Foundation grants continue to make a positive impact on our customers and communities.”

Other first-round grant recipients for 2018 are: • Andrew Jackson Council/Boy Scouts’ STEM camps • Cleveland Music Foundation Inc.’s Music Revolution Project summer camp • Delta State University Foundation’s School-Time Matinee Series and Mississippi Summer Arts Institute • Excel by 5 Inc.’s Early Childhood Community Certification • Mission First’s OASIS summer enrichment program • Mississippi Blood Services’ “Bloody the Bloodhound” educational campaign • Mississippi School of the Arts’ junior and senior college-prep seminars • Palmer Home for Children’s Whole Child Initiative • The Salvation Army’s emergency assistance and social services programs

Entergy reviews requests for funding through the Entergy Charitable Foundation twice a year. In 2017, Entergy Corporation and the Entergy Charitable Foundation awarded more than $17 million in grants to more than 2,200 nonprofits. The foundation grants support education, poverty solutions and environmental programs in its communities. In 2017, Entergy employees logged more than 103,000 volunteer hours.

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the all-new Altima, we have much to be excited about.”

Building on 25 years of success and more than 5.6 million sales to date, the allnew new Altima is bringing excitement back to the midsize sedan segment with expressive styling, an uplifting interior and two new engines. “This is a great day for Nissan Altima is also the first Nissan and the Canton plant,” said sedan in the U.S. available Philip Calhoun, vice presiwith Intelligent All-Wheel dent, Manufacturing, Nissan Drive and advanced Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Intelligent Mobility features, Plant said at the event. “As including ProPILOT Assist. we celebrate 15 years of manufacturing in Missis“The thriving automotive insippi, more than four million dustry in Mississippi started vehicles produced, and now, with Nissan over 15 years Nissan celebrated the start of production of the all-new 2019 Nissan Altima at its Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant in late-September.


ago, and we celebrate with the entire Nissan team on today’s launch,” said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. “The all-new Altima embodies the success of Mississippi in leading the world in bringing cutting-edge technologies to market through advanced manufacturing.” The sixth-generation Altima is being built at Nissan Canton and at Nissan’s Smyrna (Tennessee) Vehicle Assembly Plant, where production began in August 2018. The all-new model will arrive in dealer showrooms in the U.S. this fall.


B&B ELECTRIC BREAKS GROUND ON NEW HQ BRINGING 300 NEW JOBS TO MADISON COUNTY B&B Electrical and Utility Contractors, Inc. broke ground this fall on its new headquarters in the Canton Commercial and Industrial Center, investing $6.5 Million over the next two years. B&B Electrical and Utility Contractors, Inc. is a family-owned company that has been in continuous operation since 1982 and is a one stop electrical contractor. B&B Electric and Utility Contractors is one of the most comprehensive electrical contractors in the industry and offers a full array of electrical and utility services including substations, overhead distribution, underground distribution, street lighting, electrical wiring, storm restoration and traffic signalization. “B&B is excited about our move to

Canton which will provide more desirable access, updates and space as we continue to serve our clients not only in MS but throughout the Southeastern United States,” said Brien Blakeney, Owner/President.

its new headquarters in Madison County,” said Sheila Jones, President of the Madison County Board of Supervisors. We are truly thankful for the company’s continuous commitment to our area.

“MCEDA has been working with B&B for over a year on this project, and we are pleased to be able to announce their expansion beside their current operation in the Canton Commercial and Industrial Center,” said Joseph P. Deason, Executive Director of the Madison County Economic Development Authority. “Job creation and capital investment are key performance indicators of economic health, and Madison County continues to flourish because of investments made through expansions.”

“The City of Canton is extremely excited about B&B Electric moving its headquarters to the City of Canton. This company will be an important part of our growth and development and an important asset for this community,” said Dr. Truly, City of Canton Mayor. “We also thank MCEDA for helping this city in this joint effort. We cannot wait for the first day of the massive expansion of B&B Electric Company.”

“The Madison County Board of Supervisors is thrilled that B&B has chosen to expand and locate

Construction of the 53,000 square foot headquarters began this fall with completion scheduled for the summer of 2019.

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ising high above Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland, the C Spire national headquarters is an unmistakable landmark for success in business and technology. Representing 1,850 employees and thousands of ideas, the distinctive blue logo also represents millions of dollars in economic impact. In 2017 alone, over 40 percent of their employees worked in Madison County and C Spire contributed $612,000 in school taxes to Madison County.

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The switch racks at Franklin Telephone Company are installed.


Additionally, the Ridgeland headquarters saw a revolving door of visiting vendors contributing to the restaurants, hotels, and other travel industries throughout the Metro. From humble beginnings as a small telephone company in the Mississippi Delta to its present status as the largest privately held wireless provider in the United States, C Spire has grown to be a major force in telecommunications. Founded 60 years ago by Wade H. Creekmore, Jr. and Jimmy Creekmore, Sr., this family-run endeavor continues to be held in the Creekmore family. Hu Meena, son-in-law of Wade Creekmore, continues the legacy of family operation as current CEO of C Spire. The humble origins can be traced even further back to Wade H. Creekmore, Sr., who in the 1950s and 1960s saw the possibilities that telecommunications had to offer. He acquired two telecom companies, one in North Mississippi and one in South Mississippi. Wade, Jr., went South to run Franklin Telephone Company while his brother Jimmy ventured north to operate Delta Telephone Company.

By operating small town telephone companies, the Creekmore family learned the importance of bringing cutting-edge technology to rural communities overlooked by national brands. “They learned to listen to the customers when no one else would provide for them,” Meena said. “The bell companies wouldn’t serve them so there was a lot of opportunity for local companies to grow.” As wireless phone service emerged, licensing agencies used a “presence” test to allow providers to participate in lotteries allowing them to provide service to different locations. Without those rural cellphone companies, C Spire would not have had access to the lotteries, the bids, or the growth that has come from wireless technology. “In the second half of the 1990s, the internet became visible to the consumer,” Meena said. “Doing what we have always done, we started an internet service provider, Telapak Networks. I’m glad we did. We didn’t make any money at it, but we learned a lot.” Whether consumers think of it these terms or not, nearly all of C Spire’s products and services revolve around access to the inter-


Jimmy and Wade H. Creekmore Jr. founded the company that has grown to become C Spire 60 years ago.

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Hu Meena and Archie Manning make the inaugural phone call for Cellular South on Feb. 4, 1988 in Gulfport.


net. Even for wireless services, most consumers access the internet from their phones more than they talk on them. “I can’t count the traffic we have going through the internet,” Meena said. “That’s really what we are today. We provide highspeed connection to the internet.” With this in mind, C Spire is constantly investing in next-generation technology including both wired and wireless. Yet throughout all of these changes the corporate structure has remained almost identical with one major exception. “In the late 1990s we began an ESOP – Employee Stock Ownership Plan,” Meena said. “We actually sold part of the company to our employees. It’s a significant part of the company. C Spire today is really a combination of the old Delta Telephone Company, Franklin Telephone Company, Telepak, and Cellular South.” Finding one brand that encompasses all of these businesses is a challenge, but C Spire has taken time and energy to build a brand and graphics strategy on a whole new level. Everywhere one looks around the C Spire headquarters there is a small silver stick figure. According to Meena, the story of that stick figure is the real story of CSpire’s success. “When we first began C Spire 30 years ago we had a lot of meetings,” Meena said, “and one of the first things we would do is go to the whiteboard and draw a stick man and say it’s

COVER STORY all about the customer. The stickman figure – which you’ll find in every conference room represents the customer.” By putting themselves in the customer’s shoes and asking “what would the customer want” company leadership built a community culture of innovation driven by realistic customer needs. That stick figure presented company leadership with an ever-present watchful eye from the symbolic customer and a reminder to always ask the question “How would we plan to serve the customer if he was sitting in the room with us?” “So we just drew the stick figure of the customer and we would look up and say, ‘what do you think of this Mr. Customer,’ and try to really represent his or her voice,” Meena said. “We perpetuated that and it has continued to drive everything we do in all the lines of business in which we offer service today.” Understanding the company’s beginnings as a rural telephone provider puts the emphasis on customer service in perspective. In those situations, it was much easier for unhappy customers to knock on the CEO’s door at home. The C Spire Stick Man is an important graphic for the company’s internal culture, but the company’s public image is just as inspired and just as meaningful. “We were Cellular South for two decades and then we decided to change our name because we were going to get into different lines of business that were outside of wireless, so we needed a new name,” he said. A national rebranding is not a small task and national branding firms came to Mississippi and studied the Cellular South company culture and mission. From that time-on-the-ground, the brand consultants recognized the importance of the customer and eventually the name C-Spire developed meaning “Customer Inspired.” “A name should be representative of the company it’s tagged to,” Meena said. “A lot of times, you can make a name whatever you want it to be. But we wanted a name that supported who we are and our branding company recommended the name C Spire and we liked it and have been using that name since 2011.” Since the 2011 name changed coincided with significant national and regional growth and with a change in company direction. “We knew we were going to diversify and it would be hard to diversify past wireless service with the word cellular in our name,” Meena said.


trends, analysis and news in the wireless industry, announced the selections in its third annual special report published by Editor-in-Chief Mike Dano.

C Spire executive one of 26 senior managers, regulaThe most powertors in mobile ful leaders list was spotlight compiled by the Fierce editorial staff Denver, Co. (November 27, 2018) – C through internal deliberations. Spire President Stephen Bye was named “These are the 26 one of the U.S. wire- people we believe less industry’s most can legitimately lay claim to be the most powerful persons powerful person in Tuesday along with the U.S. wireless in25 other executives dustry,” Dano wrote from public and in the report. private telecom, cable and technology firms, along with In a new wrinkle this year, Fierce has chip maker senior leaders, government created a bracket agency officials and and is pairing off each of the execuregulators. tives against one another to determine Fierce Wireless, who will eventually an internationally be named the most recognized online powerful person publication and email newsletter that in the U.S. mobile focuses on the latest industry. T-Mobile

CEO John LeGere won in 2016 and One Web’s Greg Wyler won the vote last year.

Bye oversees operations for the company, which includes three lines of business, serving approximately 1 milJoining Bye on the lion consumer and list are executives business customers from the nation’s with wireless, fiberleading telecomto-the-home services munications, cable, and enterprise voice, satellite, smartphone data, managed cloud manufacturers and and IT services in wireless firms along Mississippi, Alawith industry-leadbama, Tennessee and ing chip makers and parts of Florida. government agencies and regulators. A well-known and widely respected 26“I’m honored and year veteran in the humbled to be setelecommunications lected as part of this industry, Bye served prestigious list,” said previous stints as Bye, who was named CTO at Sprint, vice president of president of wireless at Cox CommunicaC Spire by longtime tions and executive CEO Hu Meena in director of conDecember 2016 after verged services at an earlier stint as AT&T. Fierce said chief technology of- Bye is helping guide ficer of the Mississip- 5G and fixed wirepi-based diversified less efforts at one telecommunications of the nation’s most and technology ser- innovative regional vices company. wireless operators.

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COVER STORY C Spire broke ground on its Tier-3 data center in Starkville in 2013. The 22,400 square foot center is located on a 6.5 acre site at the sprawling Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park.

C Spire’s Tier 3-plus facility in Starkville is the premiere data center in the Southeast with ample commercial space available for businesses and the only one in its class and capability within 250 miles of its location. Other centers are operated in Arlington, Atlanta, Nashville, Raleigh, Birmingham, Tallahassee, Louisville, Chattanooga and Little Rock.


COVER STORY C Spire has maintained cutting-edge branding and kept their identity strong even as the company’s services have grown. “Branding is really representative of everything you do,” Meena said. “A lot of people think it’s just a marketing term, but it ties into everything you do or say about yourself. We’ve understood from the very beginning how important it is to build a strong brand. Out of all the assets we own and operate, our brand is probably the most valuable one. We have a very favorable brand in the marketplace, especially when compared to other telecom providers. Everything we do or say, every interaction with a customer is either building or deteriorating our brand.” Impressively, C Spire was able to transfer their brand equity when the name change occurred in 2011. With precision accuracy, the name change was executed overnight preserving intrigue and excitement and maintaining confidentiality until the final moment. “Our marketing team lead by Suzy Hays and Jim Richmond, who was more on the PR side at that time, did some very significant planning and we decided we were going to do a flash cut all in one evening,” Meena said. “It was a well-managed event that somehow

we were able to keep confidential at a time when it’s really hard to keep secrets. One day in November 2011 we were Cell South and the next day we were C Spire. It was very well organized with attention to a million little details. It was an amazing amount of work over a very short time.” Overnight signs were replaced, websites and other digital branding were replaced, and Mississippi woke up to a whole new company. Meena firmly believes that the speed and precision with which the transition happened is one of the reasons the brand loyalty transitioned so well. “We understand the importance a brand has, how much attention to detail it takes to grow that brand and the importance and value of having a strong brand,” Meena said. “It allows us to do what we do today and offer a wide variety of services.” With more than 1.2 million customers C Spire is the 6th largest wireless provider and has built a brand of true national quality. “If you look at all of our competitors, they’re all national brands,” Meena said. “All of our competitors are among the top advertisers in the US. It’s fun competing in that realm. We want people to understand

that we are headquartered in Mississippi, but there are 49 other states. We’re not just a Mississippi focused company. When it comes to branding, we have to think nationally because generally all the products and services we offer are national products and services.” While many companies that have been founded and developed in Mississippi have been sold by their founders to national conglomerates, C Spire’s founders have chosen to remain privately held and headquartered in Mississippi. “One of the reasons we have remained privately held is so that we can make decisions in the best interests of the company and customers,” Meena explained. “We’re not beholden to Wall Street and having to produce next quarter. We can think on a long-term basis and our long-term goal is to operate a Mississippi based company from which we can build anything.” Beyond the hard numbers such tax contributions, the presence of a national headquarters in Mississippi serves as a beacon and a showcase for other companies looking to do business in the state. When businesses are looking into the prospects of doing business with the state, economic development professionals can take the business leaders to visit C Spire and find out just what it is like to run a company in Mississippi. “We are always for businesses coming in,” Meena said. “But I’d like to see Mississippi support more homegrown businesses.” As C Spire has expanded into other states, Meena has seen just how dedicated government leaders and consumers are to developing local, small businesses. “I think that’s an area where Mississippi can improve,” Meena said. “When people fly in from somewhere else, we don’t think they’re any more dedicated, smarter, or brighter than anyone here. That’s the way I feel about Mississippi in general and the Mississippi businesses we get to interact with every day.” As C Spire looks to the future, they are already looking at options for 5G technology development and continue to invest in fiber optics as the backbone of all data service. New 5G technology is designed to use smaller antennas functioning as nodes. This removes the need for large cell phone towers in urban areas. Rural areas will still require towers, but the impact on construction and urban design is already happening. “We’re constantly doing research and development, we have to be,” Meena said. “We are testing 5G service and looking into next-gen-

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COVER STORY eration fiber optics to support that. We’re looking into new technology in the cloud space that is cutting edge. Innovation is an important part of what we do every day. You better be innovating every day. Technology changes so fast, you have to do a two-year plan in this industry. There’s no way you can do a five-year plan in this business, none of us know what will happen in five years. If you can guess two years from now you’re in good shape.” The next phase of C Spire corporate development is definitely in the growth of C Spire Business. A data, IT, and telecom management and support service for businesses, C Spire Business continues the Franklin Telephone and Delta Telephone history of building a profitable company by providing services in areas overlooked by larger companies. “Many of these services weren’t available in these areas four or five years ago,” Meena said. The company has recently begun a collaboration with Entergy to provide fiber service along their right-of-way in even more areas around the state. The 8,700 miles of fiber network currently owned by C Spire continues to grow. “To offer this in rural areas, you have to partner with others,” Meena said.

Wade H. Creekmore Jr. and Jimmy Creekmore


Of the three lines of business – wireless, home service, and C Spire Business – wireless remains by far the largest, but the other two are growing at faster rates. “We’ll see where we are two years from now,” Meena said. Premiering in the fourth quarter of 2018, C Spire also began using their infrastructure to deliver their own original content, a documentary series called Between the Pines: Mississippi’s Greatest Sports Stories. Not only will C Spire carry the content on their own digital platforms, but local TV stations will air the one-hour episodic program. “No state has more drama, passion, community pride and bragging rights associated with sports than Mississippi,” said Jim Richmond, vice president of Marketing for C Spire. Between the Pines marries business expansion into original content with the longstanding C Spire dedication to brand development through cultural development. One of the major contributors to C-Spire’s noted brand favorability is their near ubiquitous logo in Mississippi’s sports and entertainment scene. From high school football to professional concerts it is hard to attend a cultural event in Mississippi and not see a C Spire logo.

“Content is very important to the customer, so we are making it very important to us,” Meena said. “We are going to continue developing compelling content in the sports world and in the music world. Two things our customers are interested in are sports and music, and so we are interested in it.” Once again, the business expansion into content creation is driven by the company’s knowledge of and concern for their customers. “It is our goal, and we remain firmly committed to continuing to build a business that employees even more people and serves even more people just as we have over the past 60 years,” Meena said. “We think we add a lot to Mississippi and to Madison County and we want to see our home state do well. We may not have overly detailed plans about what we’re doing over the next 10 or 15 years, but what we can do is continue to listen to our customers.” Whatever directions C Spire grows, one can be certain that the stick figure man will always be the guiding figure – representing the customer’s needs and wants at every turn.

C SPIRE EXPANDS WITH ACQUISITION OF TEKLINKS By Amile Wilson COACH LOU HOLTZ FAMOUSLY SAID, “IN THIS WORLD, YOU’RE EITHER GROWING, OR YOU’RE DYING, SO GET IN MOTION AND GROW.” The leadership of C Spire has taken this to heart as the company has grown from wireless service to homebased fiber and has recently announced its next phase – cloud-based hosting and business services. In June 2018, C Spire acquired the Birmingham based TekLinks and made it a hub for the new C Spire Business brand. Linked with managed IT and a suite of business services, C Spire is no longer providing one or even two solutions for business technology, but an entire array of digital solutions including hardware, security, data centers and much more. For C Spire Business, the goal is business technology streamlined to provide clients with “Harmony not headaches.” Similar to the company’s sudden “clean-cut” transition from Cellular South to C Spire, TekLinks transformed overnight into C Spire Business and brought with it a wide array of clients and services pushing the C Spire service area eastward. “July 31, the community knew them as TekLinks,” said Hu Meena, CEO of C Spire. “August 1, we began to build the brand C Spire Business Services in new markets in which we had not had the previous opportunity to serve.” “Companies need someone to help them keep up with technology,” Meena said. “That market had largely been ignored in the

areas in which we serve, not only in Mississippi but in other states.” C Spire had already begun venturing into the managed solutions niche of the telecom industry but found a way to significantly expand their technological and geographic footprint through the TekLinks acquisition. With the combined reach of C Spire’s Business Solutions and the newly acquired TekLinks, C Spire Business stays on the cutting edge of the ever-changing telecommunications landscape so that clients businesses can focus on the services they provide, rather than the IT behind them. The range of cloud services, managed services, connectivity, IP voice, and other digital and data technology is constantly changing and tailor-made to fit the needs of businesses. Client businesses have seen a dramatic shift in the way they interact with customers, and C Spire maintains an up-to-date experience without having to have a dedicated IT staff. “Reception to this has been very positive,” Meena said. “Businesses really appreciate what we’ve been able to do for them getting them out of the dark ages of telecom and help them put their services first.” With small, medium, and large business plans and a well-trained team offering business services across four states, C Spire can now not only provide the connectivity businesses need but the managed services and file services that can propel them forward. This new service means that businesses located in Mississippi now have the same digital resources available anywhere in the world – and all from a local provider.

“No company should turn down locating to Mississippi or growing their Mississippi business because of lack of technology available here,” Meena said. “We think it’s a great economic development for the state.” While these advanced connectivity and digital services are not available everywhere in the state, the C Spire footprint is expanding and creating opportunity with it. The overall package of services offered by C Spire Business is already showing significant promise and development in one particular industry – healthcare. “Where we really have had an impact is the health-services and medical field,” Meena said. The increased use of telemedicine to solve rural health issues all but requires high-speed connectivity and the back office support of telecom professionals to support access to telemedicine. “We’ve been working with UMMC over the last few years to develop applications that can be very beneficial especially to those in the rural parts of our state,” Meena said. “We hope to grow that part. We’re seeing telehealth move from the category of experimental to something that is really making a difference in the marketplace.” The telecom industry is not just about providing generic connectivity, it is about providing access to an entire suite of services and designing those services around individual client needs. Customer testimonials speak to increased online bookings, the ability to manage multiple layers and transactions quickly, and a more secure data stream. All of this comes with the assurance that

experts in hardware, software, cybersecurity, and all the other technical niches are keeping an eye on innovation and helping keep businesses ahead of the curve. Inside the suite of services include both the traditional – common services such as voice over IP – and the inventive. For one such avant-garde service, C Spire employees a group known as Ethical Hackers who lead their Cybersecurity Consulting Group. These high-tech sleuths conduct risk assessments, penetration tests, password cracking and generally test out the network security of clients to help them build better, more secure systems. “Our group takes a consultative approach to help companies create a culture of security,” says Will Enochs, a member of the Ethical Hackers. “We aim to inform businesses on where their risks lie and give them a framework on how to improve.” Tying back into the medical sector, these sorts of services are particularly crucial to healthcare providers who have to follow HIPAA regulations and go to great lengths to secure and protect patient medical data. As the first full-stack managed solutions provider, C Spire is now a one-stop-shop for the full slate of communications and data needs for businesses large to small. While wireless service is heavily regulated at a federal level and requires licenses to operate in different geographic areas, the business and home services sectors of C Spire are able to grow anywhere. “We’re looking to expand even further in those businesses because there are no licensing requirements,” Meena said.

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he demand for experienced computer coders will increase 22% by 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts, and C Spire is helping Mississippi high school students develop those skills through their Base Camp Coding Academy and a new pilot program called the C Spire Software Development Pathway. In fact, the unemployment rate for computer developers was only 1.9% in 2017. For most of these jobs, employers are not looking for advanced degrees, but for defined skills. The new Software Development Pathway is a public-private partnership between C Spire and the Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit’s new Center for Cyber Education. The curriculum was developed and tested in Water Valley and is part of the state’s larger 2015 Computer Science for Mississippi initiative. The pilot program has already placed computer science teachers in 74 Mississippi school districts and has the goal of plac-

ing qualified computer science teachers in all of the state’s 896 elementary, middle and high schools by the 2023 school year. C Spire has committed $550,000 to fund the launch and first phase of the Center for Cyber Education and is looking for others to help fund the project going forward. “For a program like this to be successful, we need to partner with businesses across the state to develop a first-class teacher mentoring and student internship and job shadowing opportunities,” said Dr. Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University. The vision for this program began with the successful Base Camp Coding Academy, a year-long vocational training that prepares students to enter the workforce with coding and related skills. “When these students graduate in May they are coming into the Base Camp Coding Academy a week or two later,” said Carla Lewis, the Chief Information Officer for C Spire. As CIO, Lewis

is responsible for all aspects of software development and leads the technical side of the company. The Base Camp Coding Academy is free of charge to students and is a registered non-profit. “This is designed for students who don’t have a pathway to college for whatever reason,” Lewis said. “Students are nominated to the Base Camp. There’s an interview process and aptitude testing, and from there the board of Base Camp decides whether or not they are accepted.” Currently in its third year, Base Camp has 16 students enrolled today. “C Spire has hired nine of the graduates from the past two classes,” Lewis said. “FNC CoreLogic has hired our students, FedEx has hired our students, Ole Miss, our employer pool has grown and we are looking to find more.” So far, every Base Camp graduate has received job offers from multiple employers. “We live in a software-defined world where code and the internet influence every aspect of

Students interact with Pepper, a four-foot tall humanoid robot during a high school competition.


our lives,” said Hu Meena, CEO of C Spire. Emphasizing the importance of software in contrast to hardware, Meena held up his iPhone. “It’s substantially the same as when the iPhone was introduced. What’s different is the apps.” Due in no small part to the high demand and short supply of qualified IT workers, salaries available for qualified coders is high, averaging $69,000 per year. The wages and open positions make computer coding one of the best career opportunities available for people without a college degree. It also has the advantage of being able to be accomplished from anywhere that has internet, making coding jobs a viable industry in rural parts of the state. Not only does the Coding Academy teach the hard skills associated with programming, but they also teach soft skills associated with successful corporate employment. “We teach corporate skills like resume writing, how do you network, proper email etiquette,” Lewis said. “Those are things taken for granted, but not if you’re 19-year-old who’s never been exposed to the corporate world.” C Spire’s original investment in the Base Camp Coding Academy and the new expanded Software Development Pathway are both driven by a desire to give back and by their own growing need for qualified coders.

“That’s why the C Spire Foundation exists,” Lewis said. “All of its funding goes toward education, and really technology education. It’s a great career option for our youth but it also helps to solve a problem that we have as well.” Just in Mississippi, there are approximately 1,400 coding driven jobs open. “It doesn’t matter what industry, all industries are looking for skilled tech people,” Lewis said. “Anywhere that you see technology exists, coding is behind it.” “The next phase of Base Camp is to have more students,” Lewis said. Our goal is to graduate 25 students in a year.” Thanks to support from the state’s Institutes for Higher Learning, Base Camp credits count as a year of community college. With a high school diploma and one Base Camp training, graduates are starting at salaries of $50,000 a year. “These are students who would not normally have this kind of opportunity,” Lewis said. “These are people who have mostly been working at their local restaurant and things like that. Now they not only have a job, but they also have a career with upward mobility.” “The key thing is that C Spire wants to make sure that our state is a technology leader and that we don’t fall behind,” Lewis said. “It’s our responsibility when we see issues such as this to lead the way.”

Lewis is passionate about Base Camp. She started her career at C Spire as a coder 17 years ago and worked her way up to CIO. “A part of what we should be doing in our school system is preparing a student to fill a role in the new economy,” Lewis said. The new Software Development Pathway will extend that preparation beyond just those participating in Base Camp and eventually reach students across the state. Over the next three program years, Software Development Pathway will deliver 93% more graduates qualified for entry-level software jobs than the current program. C Spire is also trying to reach students early, with coding challenges and competitions for elementary and high school students each year.

Madison Avenue Upper Elementary School won a $3,000 award from C Spire in 2017.

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Matthew McConaughey’s office from “A Time to Kill” is on display in Canton.




ourism is on the rise in Madison County, and in Canton, more visitors are coming to town than ever before. 
A dive into the Madison County statistics show that visitors brought in over $236 million in expenditures. There are 3,040 direct travel and tourism jobs in 2017 – an increase from 3,000 in 2016 and 2,000 in 2015. Nearly $19 million was collected in state/local taxes and fees connected to travel and tourism. Canton has nine hotels with 444 rooms and a host of restaurants from fine dining to soul food. In Canton, their signature events include the Christmas Festival, Canton Flea Market Arts and Crafts Show, Mississippi Championship Hot Air Balloon Race, Second Saturday and Allison’s Wells School of Art and Crafts. Jana Dear has been the Canton Tourism director since 2015. “Canton is known for our events,” she said. “The tourism office physically puts on those events. Tourism is our main job.” In April, there were 250 visitors in Canton coming in the tourism doors seeking more information. The Christmas Festival is a month-long event from the day after Thanksgiving to December 23. “We build Christmas museums and we have over 200,000 lights on the square. There are rides that take you around the square,” Dear said. “We have school groups come in the morning time and at nighttime they bring their parents back.” The event grew from a simple blow-up snowman on the square to the full-blown festival that attracts plenty of folks from all over. “We have people who plan their trips south from up north to come through and experience the festival. It’s become a tradition for families,” she said. “For us, a tourist can be anyone who has a dollar bill in their pocket.” With the sets from John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill” blockbuster movie still in place, tourists come to Canton to experience the “Touch and Feel Hollywood” tour. “You can come sit in the same chair Matthew McConaughey sat in,” she said. “We use it daily. We have a young filmmakers camp who are filming in there.” Dear and her staff are continually looking for more ways to expand tourism in Canton. “We are constantly looking at what other towns have done and what made it

successful,” she said. “And how we can make it better.” The Canton Flea Market not only attracts visitors and tourist from out of town but has helped make the careers of successful designers of all sorts. Chairmaker Greg Harkins has sold his handiwork there as well as Gail Pittman. “It’s going on its 53rd year,” Dear said. “It started in 1965 and what’s fun to watch is the different generations coming in. The flea market changes with age and the crowds that come in. It started with 12 women hanging their paintings on the iron fence. Now it’s grown to over 1,000 vendors.” The Balloon Fest began in 1986 on July 4. The city celebrated its 150th birthday and the mayor wanted a big celebration. “Our field holds about 25 balloons and we’re maxxed out on space for them,” she said. “But attendance continues to grow.” In addition to the festivals, the tourism office works to keep local businesses busy with a Second Saturday Event. “Every second Saturday from April to September, the merchants have specials or something going on to bring in customers,” she said. “One month we did a Recipe event and people walked around and sampled what the merchants made. We printed the recipes to add to their recipe books. It’s a huge retail event. We created a bag that has a $75 value of coupons in it and if you take the bag, you get a 10 percent discount as well.” Dear noted that 250,000 visitors are attracted each year to the Canton events and festivals. “We had people from 17 states and six different countries represented in the month of April,” she said. “We get a lot of Blues Trail visitors. They love the Blues.” Even smaller events such as the “May Day at the Gin” sponsored by Frazier Riddell of Canton’s Small Town Music attract visitors to town, according to Dear. “He is wonderful and his shop is a unique shop that attracts visitors and his wife’s jewelry store attracts visitors,” Dear said. “Canton is definitely growing with lots of buildings being bought and restored and businesses coming in and that’s attracting visitors.” Tourism continues to grow with both small and large events and festivals throughout Madison County.


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Caring for her patients was the top priority for Dr. Michelle Crews when she established Uptown Dental back in 2015. She wanted more than just a dentist office but an atmosphere where patients could relax and get the top-notch quality dental care they were looking for. “I wanted to create a dental office with a comforting and relax-


ing atmosphere for the patient,” Dr. Crews said. She did just that from the initial impression upon entering Uptown Dental, all the way through the procedure rooms. “From our lobby design to the treatment stations, Uptown Dental creates the most comfortable experience possible for each and every patient,” she said. “Patients

can enjoy online video streaming and spa-like scented candles and hot towels. And every dental chair has a massage feature.” Patients are offered complimentary spa services such as a warm neck wrap, blanket and even paraffin hand treatments. “We have a ‘comfort room’ that is used for cosmetic services or as an area where you


can sit in the massage chair while you wait,” Dr. Crews said. “We also have a ‘kids’ room’ where children can play while they wait for their visit or while their other family members are having their dental work done. We are very focused on patient comfort and want to ensure that every visit is as pleasant as we can possibly make it.” 
 Dr. Crews first practiced in Flowood for 10 years before opening Uptown Dental. Her credentials include a Fellowship in the International Congress of Oral Implantology, The International College of Dentists, as well the Misch International Implant Institute. She has been an Invisalign provider since 2007 and is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Facial Esthetics.  In addition, Dr. Claire Griner joined the practice in August 2018.  The 2006 graduate of the University of Mississippi Medical Center completed her graduate training in Advanced General Dentistry in 2007.  She has also been selected to serve as the 2019-2020 President of the Mississippi Association of Women Dentists.  Both dentists have a strong interest in cosmetic dentistry and together they have combined 26 years’ experience in dentistry. The dentists combine that experience with the most advanced technology available in dentistry.   “We have state of the art 3D Cone Beam Imaging, Digital X-rays, accelerated Invisalign orthodontic treatment, minimally invasive laser treatments and CEREC CAD/CAM - which allows us to make your crown in office/ in one visit,” Dr. Crews said. “Our Omnicam technology allows us to take digital impressions instead of the goopy putty impressions. We provide minimal prep veneers, laser dentistry, guided implant place-

ment and restorations. At Uptown Dental, we pride ourselves in staying on top of the perpetual changes in dentistry.” Uptown Dental also provides other vital oral care. “Many people do not realize that we treat sleep apnea with oral appliances,” she said. “It is a great alternative for patients with obstructive sleep apnea who cannot tolerate or just simply do not use their CPAP machine.” Uptown Dental works to relax patients in a spa-like setting with the latest in technology and treats the full smile for each and every patient.   “A very popular new service we offer is Botox and fillers. We really enjoy being able to treat the oral cavity as a whole and are able to treat ‘gummy smiles’, enhance the lips/ surrounding areas, and treat TMJ associated disorders with Botox and/or fillers,” she said. “We treat more than just teeth. The oral cavity is the introduction to the body as a whole and is often where signs and symptoms of other disorders are first noted. With every exam, we perform a cancer screening.” Uptown Dental – providing a spa-like setting for your body while taking extra special care of your smile.


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More than three decades ago, The Winning Smile Dental Group opened in Rankin County. In 2008, Dr. Lee Gary and Dr. Wendy Lewis became partners and expanded the business to include Brandon and Flowood (with a since retired partner). In 2017, they acquired the Jackson office on I-55 North. Dr. Lewis understands that by offering three locations, dental care is more accessible to their patients in central Mississippi. “We are very convenient for all patients with extended hours, 7 am-7 pm and also being open 5 days/week, Monday-Friday at all three of our locations,” Dr. Lewis said. “The Jackson location is very convenient since it


is located in the heart of north Jackson just (across from Highland Village and minutes from the University Medical Center. We are extremely excited for this area and look forward to the new developments and growth that are occurring around us.” The dental partners are more than just dentists. They seek to be a blessing to each of the communities they serve.   “During the Christmas season,   a local church provides us the names of several families and we provide them with blessings they may need. Last year the doctors and staff met the families at a local shopping facility and let them fill their carts with clothing, shoes, toys, food items and

etc. They even paid for one single mother’s monthly rent to ease her financial stress during the holidays,” Dr. Lewis said. They have recently added a Dental Savings Plan. The plan is for those individuals who do not have dental insurance to seek the care they need  to hopefully prevent other costly procedures down the road.   Dr. Lewis noted, “Our Mission is ‘To use our God-given skills, abilities, and talents to Make A Difference in the lives of our patients, team members and people in the communities we serve by helping them reach their full potential through their smiles.’”  We enjoy giving smiles and creating new ones while helping those around us.


“We have participated in community events, health fairs, and fundraisers, and know the importance of giving back to the community in which we serve,” Dr. Pambianchi said. “Last year, we started a new program called ‘Make An Appointment, Make A Difference.’ For every new patient we see in a given month, we set aside $5.00. Each patient nominates a charity, and at the end of every month we hold a drawing to select the non-profit charity winner. In 2018, we have donated over $12,000 to local charities such as The American Cancer Society, St. Jude, The Mustard Seed, Mississippi Blood Services, and many more. We recently sponsored our regional manager, Michael Gregory, in Real Men Wear Pink, a fundraising campaign for breast cancer awareness and research. From our donations, to selling toothbrushes and t-shirts, and bringing awareness to social media, we are helping Michael in his fight back against breast cancer, a cause that is dear to our Winning Smile family.” Dr. Pambianchi initially joined the team as an associate in Flowood but now is a partner in the business.   “Dr. Pambianchi is a native of Cleveland and a graduate of Delta State and the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. He served as class president and after graduating, he completed a residency in advanced education in general dentistry and worked as an assistant professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center,” Dr. Lewis states, “We feel that Dr. Pambianchi has been a great addition to our practice.” Winning Smile dentists consists of Dr. Lee Gary, Dr. Lewis, Dr. Pambianchi, Dr. Robby Manning and Dr. Shellie Breland. The office staff continually work with the newest dental techniques and services. Dr. Lee from Yazoo City, received his degree from Mississippi College and his doctorate in

dental medicine from The University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry. Dr. Gary works primarily with cosmetic transformations but also takes care of the overall health and wellbeing of every patient he sees. Dr. Robby Manning of Meridian graduated from Millsaps College in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science in biology then attended University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. After receiving his doctorate of dental medicine in 1995 he opened his own practice where he spent 19 years serving patients. “I truly care for my patients. My goal is to treat every patient like I would want to be treated,” Dr. Manning said. Dr. Breland, a native of Rankin County graduated with a bachelor of science degree in ACS Chemistry from Mississippi College. She then received her doctorate of dental surgery degree from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. In 2006 she moved back to Rankin County from Louisiana and worked in private practice. Dr. Breland enjoys participating in hundreds of hours of continuing education to further hone her dental skills and remain abreast of the latest dental techniques and technology to best serve her patients. The Winning Smile offers cosmetic orthodontics which include Invisalign and Six Month Smiles. The labs used for restorative dentistry are all state of the art, accredited labs, according to Dr. Lewis. Other services include Sedation Dentistry, Botox & Juvederm, Korr Teeth Whitening, Implants, Cosmetic Porcelain Veneers & Crowns. Each of the dentists are heavily invested in continuing education, so they can continue to offer the best patient care, while utilizing the most up to date procedures and materials. “Procedures have become more conservative, treatment

time has decreased, materials have improved and being in the dental chair has become a much more pleasant experience,” Dr. Pambianchi said. Dr. Lewis added, “Two of the biggest concerns we see are cost and fear. We focus on helping patients to see that we recognize these and want to help by offering many conveniences such as our comfort menu that features many complimentary items – TVs in every treatment room, neck pillows, eye masks, blankets, ear plugs and more. We also offer sedation and laughing gas for the moderate-severe anxious patient. To help with financial concerns, we offer various payment plans and accept all major insurances.” Setting themselves apart from other dental practices, The Winning Smile’s three locations offer extended hours to fit into their patient’s busy schedules.   “Because of our continuous investment in staff training and development, we are well equipped to provide our patients with the ultimate patient experience. We are passionate about making a difference in the lives of our patients by helping them reach their full potential through their smile,” Dr. Pambianchi said. Dr. Lewis summed up The Winning Smile’s priorities.   “As you can see, this is very important to us and one of our greatest blessings is to be able to bless others,” she said. “We not only want to make a difference in the lives of our staff and patients through their smiles, but their overall well-being and happiness too. I absolutely love what I do and consider it such a blessing to have this career as a dentist while I daily strive to balance life as a wife and mother of three beautiful girls. I often say my biggest blessings are often found when blessing others.”  The Winning Smile – blessings all around, with a great smile.

Dr. Dustin Pambianchi

Dr. Wendy Lewis

Dr. Lee Gary

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A $180 million expansion of Batson Children’s Hosptial is currently underway and scheduled to be completed in 2020.



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$180 million expansion is rising from what was once a parking area for Batson Children’s Hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the seven-story project is on time, at budget and 25 percent complete, said Patrick Casey, executive director of UMMC’s Office of Planning, Design and Construction. The project, involving about 40 contractors and more than 700 workers over the course of construction, is among Mississippi’s largest, Casey said, “and it is certainly the most meaningful. It’s transformational for the state.” UMMC officially broke ground December 1, 2017, on the 355,303 square-foot tower scheduled to open in fall 2020. “We have outstanding physicians and the best staff, and they have a passion for caring for patients,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “What we are seeing now is the construction of a facility to match that quality of care.” The $180 million expansion will be in its structural phase through August 2019. Then the tower’s interior work – including the installation of 3.26 million feet of wiring,


58,400 sheets of Drywall and 6,300 light fixtures – will begin. The pediatric expansion is part of the legacy of Dr. Blair E. Batson, the namesake of Batson Children’s Hospital. UMMC’s first chair of pediatrics died Nov. 26. He was 98. “He truly is the father of organized pediatrics in Mississippi,” Woodward said, “and the lives of countless children in our state have been touched through his work.” Batson’s vision for pediatric care led to the opening of UMMC’s first children’s hospital in 1968, and he was instrumental in the opening of Batson Children’s Hospital in 1997. Batson Children’s Hospital is more than 20 years old, and the care needs have outgrown the space. The tower will double the square footage of the state’s only children’s hospital, adding 88 private neonatal intensive care rooms, more pediatric intensive care space, 10 new operating suites, an imaging center designed just for children and a pediatric specialty clinic for outpatients. The expansion will be home the Children’s Heart Center, the only pediatric cardiology program in the state. Other expanded areas include a chapel, gift shop, large lobby, and a conference center.

The new pediatric facility was designed by HDR Architecture of Dallas. General contractor Brasfield & Gorrie has completed numerous high-profile projects in the state, including the new Westin Jackson and the District at Eastover. The contractor is ranked third nationally among top general contracting companies in health care construction by Modern Healthcare magazine, based on 2016 reviews. Children’s of Mississippi leaders anticipate recruiting 30-40 new physicians in the next five years as the facility is built and after it is opened, since it will provide additional capacity. At a minimum, about 50-75 staff positions, not including physicians, would be added after construction. “We have a growing number of experts who are providing world-class care to some of the most critically ill and injured children in the state,” said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair, professor and chair of pediatrics. “This new tower will be the space we need for these physicians, surgeons and other health professionals to provide care to Mississippi’s children at a moment’s notice.” The expansion will transform pediatric care in the state, said Guy

Giesecke, CEO of Children’s of Mississippi, the umbrella organization at UMMC that includes Batson as well as clinics around the state. “This expansion will provide needed space and equipment for our smallest babies in the neonatal intensive care unit and more room and equipment for our pediatric intensive care unit,” he said. “It will aid in shortening imaging wait times due to additions of space and equipment and will provide additional equipment for the Children’s Heart Center and expand the number of children we care for. This will absolutely result in improved care for the children of Mississippi.” Children’s of Mississippi cares for more than 150,000 children each year and never turns away a child for any reason, including the family’s ability to pay. Philanthropy has fueled the project from its beginning. The Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, a $100 million effort to help fund the $180 million expansion, was launched in April 2016. The effort is chaired by Sanderson Farms board chairman and CEO Joe Sanderson Jr. and his wife, Kathy. The couple started the campaign with a $10 million personal gift.



Among those joining in the campaign are New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his wife, Abby, who were named honorary co-chairs and donated $1 million to the project. Sanderson Farms COO Lampkin Butts and his wife, Susie, made a $1 million gift to the campaign, and Carl Allen, CEO of Allen Exploration, and his wife, Gigi, have made two $500,000 pledges, in 2017 and again in 2018. Dave and Priscilla O’Donnell of Jackson donated $1 million to fund a cardiac wing in the tower’s new pediatric intensive care unit. Numerous businesses in the state, among them wholesale trading company Southern Mississippi Trading, LLC, in Waynesboro and Keithco Petroleum of Hattiesburg, have joined the campaign, pledging funds from each order or sale. Children’s of Mississippi is dedicated to improving the health of the state’s children, but it’s also helping to make the state’s economy more robust. According to an internal study,

the direct economic impact of Children’s of Mississippi, which includes Batson Children’s Hospital and all University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatric care, is estimated at nearly $349 million for fiscal year 2018. That includes 3,926 full- and part-time jobs generated and nearly $185 million in total labor income. State appropriations for FY 2018 are expected to be about $19 million. By FY 2022, that economic impact is projected to be $371 million, and 4,162 jobs generated in the state, but state appropriations are only expected to rise to $20 million. “What Children’s of Mississippi does for the state economically is tremendous, but what it does as an organization for the health of our children is its true value,” said Scott Waller, president and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council. “From the business community’s perspective, we understand the value of having strong, healthy families, and the value of having a children’s hospital there when it is needed.”

A rendering of the new building shows an open lobby that has three floors overlooking the ground floor with huge windows. It will be the only entrance for the Children’s Hosital which will help, with centralzing everything.

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he Internet has opened doors and opportunities to people around the world and it’s now changing the way medicine is practiced. Shopping for anything and everything, gathering information from informed and sometimes, uninformed sources, and now bringing patients to doctors. With telemedicine available, the days of packing up for a day trip to Jackson or Mem-


phis to see a specialist or even someone other than a family physician are now over. By connecting patients to doctors and specialists using the Internet, the wait and drive is over, more time is spent with the doctor, less time is spent getting exposed to other potentially contagious patients and doctors are able to consult and see more patients without the business of medicine or even the running of their own clinics hindering them.


More time spent doctoring, less time for patients traveling to and from – a winning idea and process for all involved. Tim Wright, chief strategy officer for InTouch Health, explained telemedicine more in-depth. “Just like banking was only inside the four walls of your local bank, now you can go online and deposit checks and perform other banking services. You’ve virtualized your banking experience,” Wright said. “In a similar way, telemedicine is virtualizing the delivery of care. It’s doing it across many dimensions.” But with healthcare, Wright proposed the question, “Can you really go online and replace the face to face physician exam or consultation with something that’s done online with audio and video? There were a lot of people who questioned if you could do a good job online.” As the Internet and technology surrounding it continued to expand and grow, the answer soon became a resounding “yes.” “Our whole notion is that there are many things in healthcare – not just as well but maybe even better because it’s faster and has better access by allowing it to be done online,” Wright said. “Our technology has been installed in over 2,000 hospitals.” Currently, there are three “buckets” of telemedicine according to Wright. “One type of telemedicine is taking that location base and allowing a physician to be there virtually. There’s a specialist in a rare disease or disorder who can now appear in any of those remote locations anywhere in Mississippi and be available to provide care,” he said. “Telemedicine is important because of the speed that it can be delivered.” The second type would be primary care online. “The ability to go online and log in and tell them you have a sore throat and can I get a z-pack. That way you don’t have to go to an urgent care clinic or wait till you can get an appointment with a primary care physician. We call that direct to consumer telemedicine,” he said. The third category is remote patient monitoring. “It’s having the devices in a patient’s home that gather data. What’s your blood pressure? What’s your weight? What is your blood sugar level? That data is then sent to your clinician

who checks and sees that ‘wow, you’ve gained five pounds in one day. You’re probably retaining water’ and if you’re a diabetic that’s a big deal,” he said. “All three of those things are growing rapidly.” The most significant impact is that it creates access to care, Wright explained. “People are driving six to eight hours for an eight-minute encounter,” Wright said. “Because you’re virtualizing the doctor you are making a stroke doctor available in the smallest hospitals, not just the big cities.” Benefits for doctors are that they usually get a text and have to leave their home or family to go see that patient. “They can connect using their smartphone, see the patient and provide an enormously valuable service in a much more convenient way,” Wright said. “It’s good for the patient, good for the doctors and good for the health system because it can provide much better care with access to the right doctor.” Todd Barrett, CEO of T1Telehealth in Canton, explains that telemedicine in Mississippi began with his company. “We started out in Fred’s Pharmacies local to Jackson. We put the very first Telehealth clinic in a pharmacy in the world about two-and-a-half years ago,” he said. “That allowed a nurse practitioner to have access to a patient in a pharmacy. The pharmacist had determined that the patient had no more refills on a medicine or that they would have the need to see a doctor. We had a kiosk in the pharmacy with a full clinic. They would go in and get diagnosed, and if they needed a prescription, they would get it right there in the pharmacy. That took the burden off the patient and off the family to cart them around.” The pharmacy model was hard to maintain, and now T1Telehealth has providers who treat patients from their home or their regular office. They can make the call or connection from where ever they have Internet access. “We have a hospitalist program where we cover hospitals at night,” Barrett said. “We use telehealth for those providers to have access to nurses and or patients throughout our network. “It’s a tool. It’s a way for a patient to have access to doctors and experts that they would not normally have access to due to geography or some other restriction,” Barrett said. He also noted that some services such as

psychiatry or addiction, it’s better for the patient to be “seen” in their own home. “There’s a lot less anxiety for a patient to access a doctor from their home,” Barrett said. Robert Weathersby, director of Clinical Outreach for St. Dominic’s Hospital, explained telemedicine is making it easier on doctors as well to get the job done better. They are one of two Jackson area hospitals working in telemedicine. “We have a clinical outreach program where normally a doctor would drive two hours to Cleveland, Mississippi and two hours back home just to see patients there,” Weathersby said. “With telemedicine, we were able to eliminate that drive time and see more patients because the doctor isn’t stuck behind the wheel.” There is a telemedicine suite at St. Dominic’s that doctors can access or they can use their own office. There also is an outreach clinic in rural areas. “Our nurses go to the outreach clinic, turn the lights on, check the patients in and do a full assessment,” he said. “We are able to get that information back to our doctors in real time using electronic health records.” Weathersby explained in the outreach clinic, there is a medical cart and a large screen where the doctor and patient interact. “On the cart we do have ancillary devices that assist with the assessment to look at the eyes and ears and a scope to look down their throat. There is also a derm scope to look at the skin. There is a Bluetooth stethoscope that works through an app on the doctor’s phone that allows him to hear and see breath and heart sounds in real time.” St. Dominic’s has specialty physicians such as neurology and cardiology. There are also urgent care facilities that are connected to St. Dominic’s as well. The telemedicine program began with a Telestroke program bringing experts in stroke care to rural areas. Weathersby is looking to expand telemedicine into other rural areas with specialty clinics. One benefit of the set-up is that those patients who may be “hard of hearing” or visually impaired can actually see and hear the physician better through the audio and video enhancement. In the end, Wright summed up telemedicine simply. “It’s access. Access to the right doctor and access to the right doctor fast.”

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hysicians made house calls throughout the 1930s, and many doctors predict their comeback in modern medicine. Several doctors in the Metro are harkening to the initial days of practicing medicine with direct care. Instead of dealing with insurance and other problems, patients pay a flat monthly fee and no copays and are seen either in the office or in their home or wherever the doctor can get to see them. Smaller office staff, less expense and more care. Dr. Michael Sanders of Face Value Health in Ridgeland saw that it was a no-brainer to move into direct primary care. “I was ready to get back to taking care of patients again (he had been in administration) but not in the traditional way where you’re running patients through like cattle and you have someone with a clicker basically trying to run so many patients through in an hour,” he said. Dr. Sanders has one nurse, no front office or billing staff. “We work strictly on a subscription model - $65 a month – and those patients get a lot more for their money,” he said. “They get unlimited access to me. I’ll answer my cell phone on a Friday night. I’ll answer text messages.” With more face time, Sanders says patients have their doctor’s full attention and time starting with an initial comprehensive visit. There’s also other perks and value as well. “They get a lot in that one hour along with a 30-minute


follow up, and I offer lab work at my cost,” he said. “Instead of paying $80 for a complete blood count, my cost is $2.25. A Rocephin shot is under $3. The Mississippi State law allows physicians to dispense medicine. You can’t just walk off the road and ask for a Z-Pack, but if you’re one of my patients, I can administer the medicine.” But Dr. Sanders is not against patients having insurance. He has a high-deductible policy himself. “You need insurance. I’m not against insurance. You don’t want to get wiped out if you have a catastrophic illness,” he said. “But they would be better off if they left primary care off. I don’t need an army of people to administer and do what I’m doing, so that keeps the costs down.” The Face Value Health Clinic “has been growing organically since we started in June,” he said. “Right now, DPC is definitely accessible to people who understand it. And those are small businesses along with the uninsured.” At New Care MD in Madison, Dr. Micah Walker has set up direct primary care two years ago and notes some may refer to it as concierge medicine, but that tends to tag the vocation with an unnecessary “rich” label. “Direct care medicine is concierge medicine that everybody can afford,” Dr. Walker said. “Ours is cheaper than the average cell phone bill. Some people think if I’m not a top one percent earner I can’t afford it. But we do everything for $69 a month.”

The practice is growing steadily according to Dr. Walker, and it’s not just Madison County residents taking part in the program. “We have patients driving 20-30 miles out to Madison,” he said. “It’s been pretty well received across the spectrum from people who have Cadillac type health plans all the way to those who can’t afford insurance, and this gives them access to health care.” And the doctors are seeing folks from all walks of life using their services. “You’d think that people from the more affluent areas would use us but 20-30 percent of our patients come from the Pearl and Brandon area to our clinic in Madison,” Dr. Walker said. “These are people who don’t shop in Madison but see this as lining up with their values. Now they know they can get to a doctor whenever they need to and their labs and medicine are at cost. They aren’t scared to come to see us and not be able to pay their mortgage due to a doctor bill.” Dr. Walker’s set up includes his wife as his nurse in Flowood and two doctors at his direct care clinic in Madison. The family physician noted his practice’s goal is to “provide the best care to the most people without sacrificing our families and quality of life.” The national average for direct primary care physicians is 600-800 patients per doctor. There are benefits for both the doctor and patient. “I do house calls, and I spend most of my time doing things on behalf of my patients,” Dr. Walker said. “Somehow in medicine, we

let a system dictate how we get our care. Our goal is to put the relationship back in a place where the patient is in the center of that relationship. You have to put the finances in perspective, and that’s why it’s a direct pay model.” Direct primary care physicians can join the Direct Primary Care Alliance launched this past January. The grassroots organization provides vision, leadership, and guidance to the DPC community through physician-led education, mentorship, advocacy, and organizational intelligence. “One of our founding tenets is we believe that people need access to a physician,” Dr. Walker said. “But a lot of doctors aren’t equipped to go out and run their own business. We have two main values – provide amazing primary care to as many people as possible and provide a healthy work environment for physicians so they can provide healthcare to as many people as possible.”

Dr. Michael Sanders

Dr. Micah Walker

(Left to right) Front: Rutha Washington, Philip Blaylock and Kelly Tucker. Back: John Fraiser, Chris Wallace, John Boydstun, Sean Farmer, Steven Dowe, Scottie Parrish and Derick Vance.

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ucked away in a nondescript office building off Lakeland Drive, the staff of Friends of Children’s Hospital works hard to support the life-saving and life-changing work done at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Batson Children’s Hospital, the only hospital in the state dedicated solely to the care of children. Friends of Children’s Hospital is a private, non-profit organization with the sole mission of supporting the children’s hospital. “There’s an assumption that we are at the hospital,” said Tena McKenzie, executive director of Friends of Children’s Hospital. In the early days of the organization, which began in 1990, their office was located on the UMMC campus, but as both Friends and UMMC’s pediatric programs grew, the organization moved off site.

With two full-time and two part-time staff and 24 voting board members, Friends has raised millions of dollars and contributed millions in volunteer hours to the children’s hospital. “It is much more expensive to treat children than adults,” said McKenzie. “The hospital is required to provide education and things like play therapy that insurance doesn’t pay for. No children’s hospital can survive without community support.” Natalie Hutto, chief development officer with UMMC’s Office of Development, said Friends of Children’s Hospital is a valued ally in advancing pediatric care in Mississippi. “For more than 25 years, Friends has been at the center of not only the growth of Batson Children’s Hospital, but its very existence,” Hutto said. Since 1989, Friends has raised more than $17 million, includ-

ing $175,000 pledged in 1994 toward the construction of the first five floors of Batson Children’s Hospital. Later, when the sixth and seventh floors of Batson were added, Friends, which had experienced tremendous growth, pledged $1.2 million to the project. Later, in 2009, the Eli Manning Children’s Clinics at Batson Children’s Hospital opened, thanks to a partnership between the nonprofit and Eli Manning, which raised $3 million over five years through an annual gala event, An Evening with the Mannings Presented by BankPlus. Friends donated another $1.7 million to the expansion and renovation of the children’s emergency room. When UMMC announced plans in 2016 for a muchneeded $180 million pediatric expansion, with $100 million funded by private donation,

PEOPLE BEHIND NONPROFITS Friends was quick to step up and pledge the largest single gift to the campaign to date $20 million over a 10-year span. Since that announcement, Friends’ hard work to follow through on their commitment already has the organization a year ahead on their giving. “Our next payment is due in June 2019, but we were able to pay in July 2018,” McKenzie said. “We hope to pay this commitment early. As soon as we meet this goal, we’ll be able to move on and do some other things.” A major part of Friends’ mission is to support volunteerism for the hospital. UMMC has an official volunteer program, but the many initiatives and events Friends’ sponsors or is involved with each year offer many other ways to help. “You have to be 16 years old to volunteer at the hospital,” McKenzie said, “but we have plenty of things that anyone of any age can do, such as volunteering for our events or at Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade.” Among Friends’ many annual fundraising efforts is the team of volunteers who walk along the Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade route in downtown Jackson, collecting donations. Friends also is the primary beneficiary of the Sanderson Farms Championship, the state’s only PGA TOUR event, and hosts their own pro-am golf tournament. Additionally, Friends benefits from their annual Enchanted Evening fundraiser and the Light-ALight Christmas fundraiser, both sponsored by BankPlus. Since its inception, Friends has used money it raised to “provide a little something extraordinary,” as McKenzie puts it. With 30 years’ experience working with Friends, first as the hospital’s liaison officer and then with the or-

ganization itself, McKenzie has seen the specific needs change, but the mission stay the same. “One year we gave out calling cards to the parents,” she said. “I’m not sure if people even know what those are anymore! We bought toys for the children one year but now people are giving toys directly to the hospital so we’re able to move on and fill a different need.” This year’s need was specific – recliners, one for every patient room in the hospital. “Some things like that are just helpful,” she said. “A recliner in every room. Someone might ask ‘Why?’ For a child who’s been stuck in bed and is finally starting to feel better, it can be a huge help in their recovery to be able to get out of bed and sit up and still be comfortable. It’s a way for a parent to sit comfortably and hold a sick baby.” Friends also fully supports the Healing Understanding and Grief Support group, HUGS for short, for families that have lost children. They also provide as-needed support for equipment such as washing machines and cover an on-demand movie system throughout the hospital. “If your child wants to watch Frozen and that is the thing that can keep that child happy, we want them to be able to do that,” McKenzie said. “Insurance won’t cover that. It’s $45,000 a year, and we want to be able to cover that.” McKenzie’s experience working alongside and now inside Friends provides valuable institutional memory. “When conversations started happening about building a children’s hospital in the early ’90s, we were looking at philanthropy numbers, and it just didn’t look possible,” she said. “But people said ‘We will make this work.’ I remember being at

early meetings and people saying, ‘We can do this,’ and I was thinking ‘We raise $60,000 a year! How can we make this work?’ But we have!” While Mississippi ranks as one of the most charitable states in the nation, the hard part for any charity is that there are so many needs and so many meaningful charities. Through the efforts of the individuals and businesses that support Friends of Children’s Hospital, they have been able to see increased growth in their fundraising to raise nearly $10 million over the last five years. “When you’re dealing with sick children, there’s always the assumption that the government or insurance will pay for it,” said McKenzie, “but that often isn’t the case. The perception that someone else can fill that void is a challenge. No charity has it easy. We don’t spend a lot of money on advertising. We just don’t have it to spend.” After more than 28 years of championing Mississippi’s children, Friends of Children’s Hospital is one of the state’s most recognizable charities. “This job has been a gift to me,” McKenzie said. “It’s hard work, and there are tough days but there are also great rewards. We were at our treelighting at the District, and I saw a child running toward me. I looked down, and it was a patient. That was one of those moments when I knew this is why we do what we do.”


Major Contributors Amerigo, Char, Sombra, Anjou Babalu – Table 100 Ben Nelson Golf & Utility Carts Bierdeman|Vassar Orthodontics BKD, LLP Bluebell Ice Cream Brasfield & Gorrie Brown Bottling Group Delta Regional Foundation EastGroup Properties Feild Co-Operative AssociationFIS Fondren Cellars Gertrude C. Ford Foundation H. Russell McCarty Foundation Hederman Brothers Printing HORNE LLP Insurance & Risk Managers Jackson Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Johnson Controls, Inc. Jones Walker LLP Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable & Educational Fund The Joy in Childhood Foundation Key Dental KLLM Transport Services, Inc. Lamar Outdoor Advertising Michael and Larry Johnson Family Foundation Paul Moak Subaru Morrisons Healthcare MS Federal Credit Union NewSouth NeuroSpine David & Kristie Nutt Petal Pushers Phil Moore Buick GMC Selby and Richard McRae Foundation Snapshot Publishing The Cirlot Agency The Scout Guide Jackson Tico’s Steakhouse Treehouse Boutique Children’s of MS/UMMC Wells Fargo Commercial Banking Gainspoletti Financial Services

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1. Melanie Shapin and husband Stephen are joined by friends Todd McAlpin and Sara Davis 2. Ginger Robbins, Donor Relations Coordinator, Make-A-Wish MS and Alice Blackmon, Development Director Make-A-Wish MS 3. Addy and Kevin Keith representing Event Sponsor Community Bank 4. Amber and Casey Bridges join UMMC CEO Kevin Cook and wife Shana, President UMMC Alliance 5. Wish Mom Alicon Johnson, who’s son Tanner got a Service Dog; Kelli Ballard, NP Batson Children’s Hospital and Sara Watts, MAW volunteer 6. Syl Burrell and her mother Lavon Fluker-Reed


Reunion Golf & Country Club hosted a gala evening celebrating Make-A-Wish Mississippi in November. The gathering was made possible by Bruce Kelly, Hope Sponsor of the event. Among the some 150 guests were numerous business and political leaders from the greater Madison area, as well as throughout the state. Make-A-Wish Mississippi was founded in 1984 in memory of a little girl who lived in Gulfport. After she was diagnosed with a lifethreatening medical condition, a group of caring individuals raised funds to send her, alone with her mother and grandmother, to Walt Disney World Resort. Every year, there are about 165 kids in Mississippi newly-diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. It is Make-A-Wish Mississippi’s vision to grant the wish of every eligible child. Learn about the power of a wish come true and why medical professionals are prescribing it as good medicine. Everyone involved in fulfilling the wish of a sick child is touched by the magic of the experience… magic that brings hope, strength and joy to children and their families during a difficult time. Find out how to Adopt-A-Wish! The Reunion event was not only a celebration for existing sponsors, but to encourage more Mississippian’s to investigate how they can help by visiting:

Casey Bridges of Hopper Properties, Madison The City Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, Rev. Jerry Dillon, Senior Paster Parkway Church in Madison; and the evening’s Hope Sponsor Bruce Kelly

Rod Henderson, Make-A-Wish Mississippi’s Senior Director Of Development, with Ginger Rogers, Donor Relations Coordinator

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1. Eric Hill & Laura Tate 2. Becky White & Mary Ann Graham 3. Kaitlyn & John Vassar & Jenny Snow-Weaver 4. Brian & Mandy Jones 5. Ross Weems & Jamie Waltman 6. Rosa Guevara & Devin Whitt







1. Ragan Denham, Whitney Denham, Michelle Rayner & Jeremiah Rayner 2. Chrissy Cheshire & Kendall Mitchell 3. Sarah Grace Sobiesk & Ann Louise Whitehead 4. Jason & Darrah Hicks, Lora & Lott Warren 5.Emily Dix, Catherine Martin, Cortne Robinson, Jennifer Tyndal, Rebecca Colenda, Alyce McLaurin & Grace Parrish 6. Phil Buffington, Sherry Mosley, Kenny Griffis & Brooks Mosley

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r. Blair E. Batson, the first chair of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, died Nov. 26. He was 98. Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said Batson’s importance to the health of children in the state “cannot be underestimated. “He truly is the father of organized pediatrics in Mississippi,” she said, “and the lives of countless children in our state have been touched through his work. “What a wonderful legacy.” Batson’s successor as chair, Dr. Owen B. Evans, called him “a living archive of pediatric diseases and experiences.” “And he was a role model for me in how to be a gentleman,” Evans said. Born Oct. 24, 1920, Batson grew up in Pearl River County in the sawmill town of Orvisburg, where his grandfather, Ran Batson, owned the mill and his grandmother, Mary Bryan, was principal of the three-room, eightgrade school. For three years of his childhood, at the start of the Great Depression, Batson and his family lived in West Point, where the local librarian, Lucy Heard, cultivated his lifelong love of books and learning. He earned his B.A. and M.D. at Vanderbilt University, where he completed a residency in pediatrics. While an undergraduate, he was president of the student council and of his fraternity, Sigma Chi. He served as chief resident at Vanderbilt from 1949-50 and had a faculty appointment there from 1949-1952. He completed a one-year residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and was on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine from 1952-55. He also received a Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1946-48 in Giessen, Germany, as ward officer for contagious diseases and pediatrics for the 388th Station Hospital. At 34, he was named chair of the Department of Pediatrics at UMMC just two months after the Medical Center opened its doors to patients in 1955. He officially retired in 1989, although he still taught for years afterward. During his long career, he taught more than 3,500 medical students and 240 pediatric residents. Among those was the late Dr. Aaron Shirley, who, under Batson’s leadership, in 1965 became the first African-American learner in any program at UMMC. Dr. Joe Donaldson, a former member of the pediatrics faculty, said Batson was “superbly trained” and read all the time.

“He had seen virtually every interesting pediatric case in Mississippi since 1955,” Donaldson said. Another faculty member, Dr. Will Sorey, said Batson was “a wonderful teacher” who “knew infectious diseases, not from lab reports that we rely on now, but from clinical presentation.” Batson was honored often for his contributions to the health of children in Mississippi. He was the recipient of the 2000 Humanitarian of the Year tribute from the Epilepsy Foundation of Mississippi. In 1996, he was selected Vanderbilt’s Distinguished School of Medicine Alumnus of the Year. In 1995, he was inducted into the University of Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame. He also received awards for outstanding service from the March of Dimes, the National Easter Seal Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics District VII. He received an award for leadership and devotion to child health care from the Mississippi Academy of Pediatrics. Batson was an examiner for the American Board of Pediatrics from 1963-90, a member of the executive board of the American Academy of Pediatrics from 1974-80 and president of the pediatric section of the Southern Medical Association. In 1997, the new children’s hospital was named the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in recognition of his lifetime contributions to the health of children in Mississippi. A new addition to the hospital is currently under construction. He was married twice, first to Dr. Margaret Batson, a distinguished pediatrician in her own right and member of the original pediatric faculty, and then to Blanche Batson, a wellknown artist, both of whom are deceased. Survivors include Batson’s only brother, John O. Batson II; six nieces and nephews: John O. Batson III of Lake Oswego, Oregon; Molly Batson Smith of Atlanta, Georgia; Blair Batson of Portland, Oregon; Bryan Batson Jauregui of Todos Santos, Mexico; Andrew Graves Batson of Seattle, Washington; and Virginia Batson of Collingswood, New Jersey; and four great nieces and nephews: Bryan Smith of Athens, Georgia; Annie Smith of San Francisco, California; and Griffin Batson Grant and Tristan Batson Grant of Collingswood, New Jersey. A memorial service will take place in early 2019. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children, c/o the UMMC Office of Development, 2500 N. State St., Jackson, MS 39216 or Friends of Children’s Hospital, 3900 Lakeland Dr., Suite 205, Flowood, MS 39232.

Dr. Blair E. Batson speaks at the 1997 dedication of the Children’s Hospital.

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FLORA BUTCHER Dave’s Triple B serves locally sourced salads, sandwiches, burgers, bbq, daily specials, and blue plates featuring Flora Butcher meats.

The Flora Butcher is an old world style butcher shop specializing in local animals, local artisan products and Raines Farm Wagyu beef.



Mon - Sat 10:30am - 2:30pm 970 High Street | Jackson, Mississippi

Mon - Fri 10am - 7pm, Sat 9am - 6pm 4845 Main Street | Flora, Mississippi

n We Cater Any Size Event m



15 Years of

Building Our Future in Mississippi It all started with an open field outside Canton. In 2001, Nissan and Mississippi began a journey to build one of the most advanced manufacturing facilities in the world—right here in the heart of the Magnolia State. Fifteen years later, we’re proud to make some of the finest vehicles in America at the Nissan Canton plant. And we’re proud to look back at all we’ve achieved with our Mississippi friends and neighbors. Nissan Canton says thank you to our employees, our community and our state for 15 years of building our future, and we look forward to the next chapter in our Mississippi story.

Find out more at

25K+ JOBS*

created statewide


vehicles assembled

$2.9 BILLION+* generated annually in state GDP


invested in our plant

$15 MILLION+ in local charitable contributions


in local

volunteer hours

Profile for Madison County Magazine

Business Quarterly Winter 2018  

Madison County Magazine's Business Quarterly Winter issue features Ridgeland-based C Spire.

Business Quarterly Winter 2018  

Madison County Magazine's Business Quarterly Winter issue features Ridgeland-based C Spire.

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