Tag Archives: phil hardwick

10 Things I Learned While Writing The Mississippi Mysteries Series

Over the past few years I wrote 10 short novels set in Mississippi in Mississippi towns.  Here are 10 things I learned about Mississippi while writing the series:

1.  there are white squirrels in Columbia that were imported by a former mayor;

2.  acetaminophen can be used as a poison;

3.  during World War II the Town of Flora tripled in size because of a gunpowder plant;

4.  there are haunted houses in many towns;

5.  there is a library in a former jailhouse in Macon;

6.  there is a cemetery monument of an angel crying over the loss of a local citizen in Columbus;

7.  when the Mississippi State (new) Capitol was dedicated there was a contingent of Confederate war veterans in the parade;

8.  the Church of God in Christ was begun in Lexington;

9.  that Holiday Inn University was located in Olive Branch; and

10. the Dizzy Dean Baseball World Series is held in Southaven.


Education is the key to economic development

ARTICLE – MSU’s Stennis Institute Assists Schools (2-27-2013)

Education is the key to economic development. Industries need problem-solvers: educated, trainable workers who can go above and beyond classroom instruction.

Strategic planner Phil Hardwick has seen it time and again in his work as a project manager with Mississippi State University’s John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development. Over the past three years, he’s worked with 13 Northeast Mississippi schools to increase the numbers of students admitted to college.  More…

Why rainy, dreary days are the best time to shop for a house.

January 14, 2013

Today’s weather forecast in my area calls for rain and plunging temperatures.  Already, the weather outside is deteriorating.  Listening to my radio, I just heard an interview with a real estate person on this rainy, dreary day.  He made a side comment to the effect that today was “probably not a good day to go look at a house.”

I disagree.  I think that rainy, dreary days are the best time to look at a house.  You can see where the water drains, you can tell if there is a leaky roof, etc.  Looking at a house on a rainy day might even be a way to show the owner that you are a serious buyer.  After all, who would be out looking at house on a day like today except serious buyers?

This Little Dollar Stayed Home – 2012

NOTE: This is a column that I wrote several years ago and which was originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal. Permission to reprint with attribution to Mississippi Business Journal and Phil Hardwick.


This is a tale of two dollars. One stayed at home. One went to another town.

Once upon a time there were two dollars. They each lived with their owners in the small town of Make Believe in rural Mississippi. Make Believe was a nice little town. There was a Main Street that had lots of little shops that sold special items and arts and crafts and catered to people who drove through town. There was also a grocery store. There was even a doctor in Make Believe. It was a nice little town that was enjoyed by all its residents, none of whom wanted it to change.

This story of the first dollar is easy to tell. Its owner placed it snugly in her purse and drove 45 minutes to a nearby, larger town with a shopping mall. The owner stayed all day at the mall and spent the entire dollar on things bought in stores owned by big corporations in faraway states.

Part of the first little dollar stayed in that town and part of it went to the state government, but most of it went by electronic magic to another state. At the end of the day, the owner went back to Make Believe with all her treasures. Not one penny of the first dollar ever saw Make Believe, Miss., again.

The story of the second dollar is much different. The owner of the second dollar went to a little shop in downtown Make Believe. There the owner talked a long time to the shop owner about the beautiful merchandise in the store.

The shopkeeper told all about the things that were made right there in Make Believe. There were birdhouses built by Bob, beveled glass made by Beverly, blouses of silk designed by Betty, mocha chocolates by Missy, and even silverware crafted by Sam.

This owner of the dollar spent the entire dollar right there in the shop. The journey of the second dollar was much different from that of the first dollar. Yes, the first 7 cents arrived at the government in Jackson. One penny was sent back to the local town. So one penny of the sales tax came back to the Make Believe City Hall.

The owner of the shop took the next 50 cents and sent it to the manufacturers of the items that were bought. Because all of them lived right there in Make Believe, the 50 cents stayed there.

The next 16 cents went to the employee of the shop owner. Yes, you guessed it; the employee lived in Make Believe.

There was rent to pay on the shopkeeper’s retail space. It was paid to the owner of the building, who had lived in Make Believe all his life. The rent was 10 cents of the dollar.

There were operating expenses that the shopkeeper had to pay. Things such as utilities and maintenance and insurance. Sixteen cents of the dollar went to pay those expenses and some of the people that got paid lived in another town far away. Still, eight of those 16 cents was paid to people in Make Believe.

That left 8 cents. What would happen to it?

That’s right. Eight cents was the shopkeeper’s profit she got to keep. Of course, the shopkeeper lived in an apartment upstairs above the shop.

If we total where the second dollar went, we learn about 86 cents stayed in Make Believe.

I wonder what will happen to the 86 cents. Will the manufacturer, the employee, the real estate owner, the shopkeeper and the others spend the 86 cents in Make Believe? Or will they go somewhere else?

I wonder how much of the 86 cents will be spent in Make Believe. Because every time another penny is spent in Make Believe, the little town is better off because someone in Make Believe received it instead of another town.

Each person has a right to spend his or her money wherever and whenever he or she wishes. But when people spend their dollars in other towns, it does not help the economy of their hometowns.

The Tale of Two Dollars is told at this time every year because many people don’t know when they spend their money in their own hometown it helps their hometown.

Why does Mississippi have the fewest passport holders per capita?

Why does Mississippi have the fewest passport holders per capita?

Before getting into the possible answers to that question take a look at the map below, which can be found on the C.P. G. Gray website.

One answer is that Mississippi has the lowest per capita income so its residents have less money with which to travel. A second answer might be that Mississippians choose to stay at home. The Magnolia State has the 5th highest ratio of residents who were born in the state. Actually, combine both of these answers as contributing factors and it’s easier to understand why the rate of passport holders is the lowest in the country.

It has been said that travel is the best education. In view of the fact that Mississippi ranks so low in that category maybe it would help if we could figure out a way to have more international travel for Mississippi students.

Appalachian Higher Education Bus Tour Visits Alabama and Mississippi


This past week I had the opportunity to accompany the 2012 Appalachian Bus Tour on its visits to Corinth High School, East Mississippi Community College, Bevill State Community College and Louisville High School.  Below are links to a couple of news stories about the tour and why it came to this region.

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — Monday, Mississippi became the focus of educators from eight other states. They came here to find out what certain school districts are doing to put more students in college.
(includes video)

APNews – Daily Corinthian -  A group of over 60 education professionals from around the Appalachian region visited Corinth High School on Monday to learn more about the school s success in preparing students for college.

The group of educators were part of the Appalachian Higher Education Network s annual bus tour, a three-day trip to schools in Alabama and Mississippi with a spotlight on college access programs. Educators on the tour hailed from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.


How long will Carol and I be able to dine local?

Sunday, May 27

We made the decision last night while having dinner at Babalu, a locally-owned restaurant in the Fondren district of Jackson.  My wife and I will attempt to eat at only locally-owned restaurants when we dine out – which we do quite often.  How long will it last?

As many of you who follow this blog know, my wife Carol and I are involved in economic development.  That means we are interested in local economies.  News stories abound about how local businesses of all types have been affected by everything from globalization to mergers and acquisitions.  We discussed ways to support local businesses.  That’s a lot more difficult than one would imagine because of imports of just about everything.  After much discussion we decided that one thing we could do would be to choose only locally-owned establishments when we dine out. No national franchises.

As we got deeper into the discussion we realized that this will be no easy task.  Just yesterday we grabbed a sandwich and a salad for lunch at a nearby Subway.  Also, one of Carol’s favorite culinary pleasures is a milk shake from Chik-Fil-A.  I often stop at McDonald’s for a cup of coffee when I’m on the road.  We realized that this is not going to be easy, especially given the fact that both of us travel a fair amount.  So we came up with some rules.  They are as follows:

1.  No nationally-franchised eateries unless they are owned by Mississippians (thank you McAlister’s Deli);

2.  Small purchases, such as a cup of coffee, are not allowed;

3.  Takeout is the same as dining at a restaurant; and

4.  This quest only applies in the State of Mississippi.

I’ll do a weekly blog post on our project, but if you want to follow every meal not eaten at home then you can do so on Twitter, where I’ll tweet every time I eat out.  I’m at @philhardwick.

This should be interesting.  And now we are off for jazz brunch with friends at Table 100, a locally-owned restaurant in Flowood.

My newspaper with ads has become an adpaper with news.

It used to be that the advertising department at newspapers supported the news department.  It seems that nowadays it has become the other ways around, at least that seems to be the case with my own local newspaper, The Clarion-Ledger.

I base this observation on what has become a major annoyance for me, and what may be the last straw in my continuing home delivery of that newspaper.  That annoyance is the new practice of wrapping an advertising section around the back of the newspaper and part of the front page.  Lately, on some days when I pick up my Clarion-Ledger and look at the front page I see only part of that page because the left one-half or so is covered by advertising.  I suppose that the way to avoid having advertising on the front page is to have a new half of a front page.

OK, friends at the Clarion-Ledger (and other daily newspapers), I get it.  I know that you have to make a profit to stay in business.  I know that Gannett’s profit dropped 1.6 percent in the third quarter of 2011, and that it is due to”… persistent declines in print advertising and circulation.”  I also understand that daily newspapers everywhere are facing challenges brought on by technology and that the current economy is not helping any.  I’ve read the articles.  I’m a news junkie.  I want you to succeed.  I know that the future of newspapers is uncertain.  I’m on your side.  I just want you to understand my feelings on this issue (pun intended).  Wrapping an advertising section around the back page and part of the front page really irks me.

There.  Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest I’m going to read the Sports section.  At least I don’t have to peel something off of it this morning.

Winston County Mississippi Scholars Recognized

(May 6, 2011) Thirty-five Mississippi Scholars from Winston County were recognized Thursday evening at a banquet in Louisville. At the event students announced which colleges or universities they planned to attend and what their major course of study would be. Louisville Mayor Will Hill welcomed the students and challenged them to represent their communities well as they go out into the world. Mary Snow, emceed the program and represented the local business community and Phil Hardwick of The Stennis Institute was the keynote speaker.

The celebration was just one of the outcomes of the “Getcha Head in the Game,” a project of the Louisville Municipal School District, the Winston County Economic Development Partnership and The Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University. “Getcha Head in the Game” is a program of the Mississippi Higher Education Initiative (MSHEI), which is funded through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

The Mississippi Scholars program requires students to take four English courses, four upper level mathematics courses, four science courses, four social studies, one art, two advance electives like foreign languages, 20 hours of community service, 2.5 grade point average and 95 percent school attendance. It began as a national program to utilize business leaders to motivate students to complete a more challenging course of study in high school.