Monthly Archives: June 2011

What? A new winery in Mississippi?

I have visited wineries from Tuscany, Italy to Pasa Robles, Calif., and I knew of the Old South Winery in Natchez, but I have never seen or heard of a winery in Winston County, Mississippi. I had to learn more about this.

Gerald Mills, Executive Director of the Winston County Economic Development Partnership, told me that a Winston County native of some winemaking fame had returned to Louisville, Mississippi after living out of state for much of his adult life. His name was James Davis, and his company was called Red Hills Winery. The detective in me went to work. I discovered the winery’s Facebook page, and from there learned where I could purchase a bottle of wine in another town. A few days later I had a bottle of Davis Cuvee‘ from Red Hills Winery. The label read as follows:

“Our Davis Cuvee’ is a special blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Muscadine. It is a medium-bodied wine that exhibits blackberry and red cherry fruit, and is floral with a hint of earthiness. It exhibits jammy black fruit flavors with a little spice. Aged in used French Oak barrels. 13.5% alcohol. 200 cases produced.”

My taste testing began. At this point I should disclose that I am no wine expert. However, I do have a glass of wine more often than not with dinner meals, and am just someone who is mildly fascinated with the industry from a business and product standpoint. My review is simple: it was rather good and had a noticeable muscadine finish. Indeed, it was good enough for me to buy another bottle. The winery also has a white wine blend.

I contacted Davis and learned … read more in Phil Hardwick’s Mississippi Business Journal column.

Rural counties with the shortest life expectancy.

The Daily Yonder article Life Expectancy Falling in 561 Rural Counties by Bill Bishop documents the fact that life expectancy is declining in more rural areas than urban ones.  It is a recommended read.  The article has a map depicting change in life expectancy from 1997 to 2007.  After looking at that map check out the ones on Center for Disease Control and see if there is an apparent correlation between obesity and life expectancy.  Here’s the chart from Bill Bishop’s article:

Two ways to respond when the media criticizes City Hall projects.

City Hall will do just about anything for economic and community development.  After all, most every city has as its mission statement, “… to improve the quality of life of its citizens.”  That’s fine until the dubious projects begin appearing.  Now I’m not advocating the idea that city governments should never provide incentives or get involved with projects.  There’s a place for that.  But one idea should be paramount: if the project is not financially feasible in the marketplace the public should know that City Hall is making an investment in a project that is not market-driven.

So how does the average citizen know when a project is dubious?  I watch for City Hall’s response when the media starts asking questions about the project.  If City Hall’s response is to criticize the media for not “supporting economic and community development in our city,” then I shout “Beware.”  If City Hall’s response is to say, “Thanks for giving us the opportunity to provide more information about how this project will benefit our community,” then I’m feeling more comfort in the notion that City Hall at least believes that the project is feasible.

“It is not what fields a state competes in that determines its prosperity, but how productively it competes.”

Those words are from a presentation by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter at the Mackinac Policy Conference on June 2, 2011 in Michigan.  The title of his presentation was “Michigan Competitiveness: Creating an Economic Strategy in a Time of Austerity.”  It is a good message for all states.  Some of his key points:

Competitiveness is the productivity with which a state utilizes its human, capital, and natural endowments to create value;

Productivity determines wages, jobs, and the standard of living;

It is not what fields a state competes in that determines its prosperity, but how productively it competes; and

Businesses and government play different but interrelated roles in creating a productive economy.

Only businesses can create jobs and wealth.

States and regions compete to offer the most productive environment for business.