Tag Archives: mississippi business journal


November 12, 2015

My latest column as printed in the Mississippi Business Journal


They come in all sizes and shapes and from a wide variety of backgrounds. Almost all of them are serving in their posts in a part-time capacity. Many, if not most, have had little training in the fundamentals and nuances of economic development. They are the mayors of small towns in Mississippi and other states across America.

In spite of their lack of formal preparation for the duties of their offices there are quite a few opportunities and resources to them once they take their oaths. The Mississippi Municipal League offers a wide variety of training options and resource materials. Universities, community colleges, state agencies and nonprofit organizations are available for technical assistance and advice.

The following is a basic economic development primer for mayors of small towns. It is actually an outline. Each of these 26 topics are themselves worthy of full-blown seminars. The purpose here is to give the reader a taste of what its like to deal with some of the subjects that small town mayors encounter on a regular basis. Note that it is presented in second person.

A is for Asset-based economic development. Identify the assets in your community that you can capitalize on.

B is for Plan B. The best leaders are the ones who can manage Plan B. Although planning is important, things do not always go as planned.

C is for CDBG, the Community Development Block Grant program.

D is for Decisions, which tend to be data-driven or values-driven.

E is for Economy. What drives your town’s economy?

F is for Followers. You are the leader; who’s following you – and what do they want?

G is for Goals, the mileposts along the highway to achieving the vision. Goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.

H is for Heroes. Who is going to step forward when you need it the most?

I is for Incentives. Economic development prospects are driven by location, workforce and incentives.

J is for Jobs. Economic development is the process of increasing the wealth in your town through creation, recruitment and retention of jobs.

K is for Keystone, the central, topmost stone of an arch (an essential part).

L is for Legacy. A lifetime of achievement is often reduced to one incident or program. What will be your legacy?

M is for Meetings, especially productive meetings – with your board, with citizens, with developers and with prospects. The importance of the agenda.

N is for Numbers, or measurements, that will quantify your town’s progress. Data should be determined early in your administration and tracked on a regular basis.

O is for Observation. Stop looking for the answers you expect to find. As Yogi Berra said, “You can learn a lot by watching.”

P is for People, or demographics. Know and understand your people.

Q is for Quality. If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

R is for Responsibility. Most strategic plans fail because there is no accountability or responsibility. Hold people accountable.

S is for Story. What is your town’s story, and how can you capitalize on it?

T is for Taxes, especially tax incentives.

U is for Unique. What makes your town unique?

V is for Vision – your vision and your town’s vision.

W is for World View. How does globalization affect your town?

X is for X-Ray. Have some outside expert look “into” you town.

Y is for Youth, the future of your town. What do they think about the future? Do you have a Mayor’s Youth Council?

Z is for Zeal, the synonym for passion. One big difference in towns that succeed and those that do not is passionate leadership.


Phil Hardwick is a regular Mississippi Business Journal columnist and owner of Hardwick & Associates, LLC, which provides strategic planning facilitation and leadership training services. His email is phil@philhardwick. com and he’s on the web at http://www.philhardwick.com.

Using the Power of Story to Grow Your Business

August 13, 2015 – my Mississippi Business Journal column this week

The critical problem facing businesses today is communication. Using the story of your business is an excellent way to help solve the problem. Used properly and creatively, it will increase sales, motivate employees and improve your company’s image.

So what is story anyway? It seems there are many definitions and so-called ingredients. Aristotle said that a story has a beginning, a middle and an end. In his book Poetics he also said that the beginning is not necessarily the first event in a story. There should be an emotionally engaging event to begin the story. Today’s fiction writers are told that a good story should be about a likeable character facing an increasingly difficult series of setbacks who overcomes adversity and is changed in the end. Using those as backdrop thoughts let’s examine the possible elements of your business story.

Your story should include at a minimum a story about a character. Most likely it will be the founder of the company. Although you probably want only positive information out in public about your company, people love stories about people who have overcome adversity. So don’t be afraid to tell about some negative things that happened, whether they be mistaken decisions, family feuds or even bankruptcy.

Your character will be in the company of some well-known characters who have overcome adversity. For example, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and investor/panelist on Shark Tank, once worked as a short-order cook and a server in an upscale restaurant. He was deemed incompetent at both jobs because he could not decide if the food was done unless he tasted it first and at the high class restaurant he could never open wine bottles without getting cork in the wine. His net worth today is said to be over $2.5 billion. Harland David Sanders, aka “Colonel Sanders,” at age 65 had his restaurant go bankrupt when the state rerouted a major highway. He then used his first social security check, which was all the money he had, to start up Kentucky Fried Chicken. Walt Disney’s first animation studio went bankrupt and he was once fired from a newspaper job because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” That list goes on and on.

Your company story should also include the history of the company. Restaurants, in particular, that have been around for a long time have great stories. Viewing the history section of Mary Mahoney’s Restaurant in Biloxi (www.marymahoneys.com)or that of Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville (www.doeseatplace.com) makes one want to dine there just to check out the stories behind these famous restaurants. Check out the Community Bank story at http://www.communitybank.net/story. Another good example of the use of story can be found on the “About” section of the Mississippi Gift Company website (http://www.themississippigiftcompany.com).

Another element of a business story is the future. The story should not end with just the present. A good story is one that moves people to action. Invite your readers to become part of the future by patronizing your business.
Although the company website is certainly a great place to tell your story, it is not the only way. The below list offers several more ways that you can share your story.
1. Newspaper article – Stories written by reporters and that appear in newspapers provide an excellent way to showcase the story of your company. Newspaper articles also convey credibility because a third party has told the story.
2. Newspaper ad – Another way is to take out an advertisement in a newspaper to tell your story. The larger the ad and the more photos and images it contains, the better.
3. Magazine article – In today’s market there are more and more profile-type magazines that feature companies and individuals.
4. Twitter – One way to use Twitter to tell your story is to post a daily “tweet” that tells about something that happened on this day in your company’s history. At the end of the year you would have enough to publish an almanac.
5. Blog – Blogs offer more space that Twitter to publish items. Experts say that when using blogs there should be regular posts.
6. Facebook – More businesses are using Facebook instead of the company website to connect with their customers, and more customers are going to the business’s Facebook page to find out if the business is open, if there are any specials and to find the location/directions of the business.
7. Speeches – Face-to-audience communication is still a powerful way to share your company’s story. Civic clubs are often looking for guest speakers. Tell your story without making it a sales pitch. See above for ingredients of a good story.
8. Employees – Do your employees know your company’s story? They should because they will be telling others the story.
9. YouTube – This is an easy and effective way to tell your story. It can be linked on your website, Twitter post, Facebook page, etc. or it can be a standalone place on the Internet. You can also embed your YouTube story on your website.
Whichever method you use, consider telling your story. You will be glad you did.
» Phil Hardwick is a regular Mississippi Business Journal columnist and owner of Hardwick & Associates, LLC, which provides strategic planning facilitation and leadership training services. His email is phil@philhardwick. com and he’s on

Your choice of Mississippi craft beer headlines

August 12, 2015

Last week you had a choice of headlines about the Mississippi craft beer industry. There’s “Mississippi’s Golden Opportunity: Beer” headlining a column by Josh Mabus in the August 7, 2015 edition of the Mississippi Business Journal. If that one doesn’t suit you, then this one is courtesy of an article edited by James E. Ellis and Dimitra Kessenides in Bloomberg BusinessWeek: “Craft Beers Are Hot. Just Not in Mississippi.”

The headlines pretty much sum up the content in the respective articles.

Final Chapter – THE ALIBI

Phil Hardwick, longtime contributor to the Mississippi Business Journal has produced a serial novel (fiction). The plot revolves around the theft and quest for recovery of Brett Favre’s three MVP trophies that were on display at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.


Jack Boulder, Mississippi’s premier private investigator, seeks to recover the special Brett Favre MVP exhibit that has been stolen from the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum.


Up until now Jack Boulder has searched for the trophies exhibit from Ocean Springs to West Point, finally recovering it in Quitman from a woman who had it stolen it to give to her husband as a gift. It was learned that the woman’s brother is Jerrold Jefferson, a powerful business owner with political pull and a crooked past. Just as Boulder returned to Jackson his car was run off the road and the exhibit taken from him.


Wednesday P.M.
March 4
Jackson, MS

Chapter 10


Shortly after 10:00 P.M. a Jackson Police Department patrol car arrived at the scene of a vehicle off the road at Pearl Street between Interstate 55 and downtown Jackson. The police officer observed a car with a broken out passenger window and a man behind the steering wheel who appeared to be crying. According to the officer’s report that was later filed, the man had been run off the road by another vehicle, there was no evidence of alcohol and the man managed to drive away in the car, it having sustained only minor damage.

Jack Boulder arrived at attorney Laura Webster’s downtown office shortly before 11:00 P.M. and recounted the events of the previous hour.

“I feel certain it was one of Jerrold Jefferson’s men who ran be off the road,” Boulder told her. “They now have the trophies exhibit and my cell phone. Let me have the keys to your car. I’m going to stake out Jefferson’s office.”

“I have another idea,” she replied, picking up her smartphone and tapping the screen.

“What are you doing?”

“When you got your cell phone we downloaded an app that would let me find you,” she said. “I did the same thing so that you could find me.” She studied her phone for a few seconds. “According to this, your phone is at the Old Capitol Museum.”

“Let’s go, smart lady,” he said.

They drove up Capitol Street to State Street, got out and begin searching the front lawn of the former statehouse. Nine minutes later they heard Boulder’s ringtone coming from a spot under a tree. Boulder picked up the device. The display read, “Unidentified Caller.” He answered the call.

“Mr. Boulder,” said a female voice. “I have what you’ve been looking for.”

“Who is this?” he asked.

“This is Ruth Ann Tucker, the alderman from Madison County, whom you visited on Monday. Someone left that trophy thing in my carport a little while ago.”

“Ms. Tucker, leave your house now,” Boulder said. “You’re being set up. Leave as fast as you can.”

Ruth Ann Tucker took the advice with haste. She picked up the trophies exhibit, went straight to her car and drove away. Three blocks later she passed two Canton police patrol cars headed in the direction. of her residence.

Thursday A.M.

Jack Boulder woke up at sunrise after four hours of sleep wondering about the outcome of last evening’s events. His calls to the alderman were not answered. He had talked with MBI Agent Sheila Burgess shortly before 1:00 a.m. and learned that the Canton Police Department had received an anonymous call stating that Ruth Ann Tucker was harboring stolen property, specifically the trophies exhibit, and that she was about to sell it to someone from out of state. The Canton P.D. responded immediately, but found no one at home or any evidence of stolen property.

He showered, dressed and made coffee. At 7:30 A.M. he received the call he had been waiting for. It was Ruth Ann Tucker.

“I believe I have what you are looking for,” she said. “Is there still a reward?”

“There is,” boulder replied.

“Meet me in the parking lot of the Sports Museum at eleven o’clock,” the alderman said. “I’ll turn it over to you personally.”

“I’ll be there,” he said. He described the car he would be driving and ended the conversation. He called Laura Webster immediately and told her what Ruth Ann Tucker had said.

“Now I need some legal advice,” he said. “Should I just pick up the item from her and return it or should I let everyone else involved know that I’m meeting her. After all, what if I meet her and she doesn’t have it with her?”

“You’ve been hired by the insurance company to recover stolen property. That company is your client,” she said. “On the other hand this sounds like another setup that may lead to your being charged with receiving stolen property. This Jerrold Jefferson fellow seems to have enough power to make that happen. His fingers are deep into state government, according to my partners here at the firm. Just to be on the safe side, I advise you to let everyone involved know about the meeting and ask them to wait inside the museum. And I’ll meet you there at ten till eleven.”

Boulder agreed, made the calls and parked in front of the museum at 10:45 A.M. halfway between the museum and Smith-Wills Stadium. It was a cold and sunny morning. He noticed eight cars from three different law enforcement agencies parked near the front door of the museum.

At 11:00 o’clock on the dot Alderman Ruth Ann Tucker arrived in her Camry. She motioned for Boulder to come sit in her passenger seat. As he did so he noticed a cardboard box on the back seat. It contained the trophies exhibit.

“As you can see, I have your item,” she said. “I’m going to give it to you, but first I want you to read this.”

She handed Boulder a newspaper. He read the front-page article, and then said, “Well, I’ll be damned. This explains most everything.”

She drove closer to the museum front door. Boulder retrieved the trophies exhibit from the back seat. The private investigator and the alderman walked inside to the main floor where the others were gathered in similar fashion to the original Monday morning briefing. Laura Webster walked in and joined the meeting. Boulder gave her a wink. Boulder walked to museum director Chad Montgomery and handed him the box.

“One behalf of your insurance company I am returning your property,” Boulder said. “I would also like to ask MBI Agent Sheila Burgess to read the article on this newspaper from the Birmingham News-Journal dated three years ago.” She accepted the newspaper and read from the article.

Mississippi Businessman Pleads Guilty in Alabama Federal Court to $10 Million Tax Scheme and Massive Fraud That Involved the Bribery of Bank Officials.

Jerrold Jefferson pleaded guilty today in to various tax crimes that caused more than $10 million in losses to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and a massive fraud that involved the bribery of bank officials, the fraudulent purchase of an insurance company, and the defrauding of insurance regulators. Jefferson was a businessman who controlled numerous entities located throughout Alabama and Mississippi. He controlled the companies and their finances, using them to orchestrate a $10 million fraud on the IRS as well as other illegal schemes. However, rather than exercise control of these companies openly, Jefferson concealed his control by installing other individuals to oversee the companies’ day-to-day functions and to serve as the companies’ owners, directors or officers.

She paused and said, “The article goes on to say that Jefferson will pay a fine and serve a suspended sentence pending his good behavior and making restitution. The article also says that the U.S. Attorney praised the investigative work of IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agent Ruth Ann Tucker for her role in the investigation and prosecution of this case.”

All eyes turned toward the alderman.

“That would certainly explain why Jerrold Jefferson would want to get back at the agent who prosecuted him and cost him a lot of money,” Boulder said.

Chad Montgomery spoke up. “But why the museum? What’s his connection with this place?”

“This was all about an incredible case of coincidence and opportunity,” Boulder said. “Jefferson’s sister is Dee Dee Turnage, who is married to George Turnage, who has one of the best sports trophy collections in the country. When George heard that the sports museum in Mississippi might have a trophy or trophies awarded to Brett Favre he casually mentioned to his wife that the exhibit would be worth stealing. He didn’t really mean it, but Dee Dee was desperate to do something to save what she believed was a crumbling marriage. She happened to mention it to her brother, Jerrold Jefferson, whose company, Caliber Alarm, happened to be updating the alarm system at the museum. Jefferson saw an opportunity to show off to his sister and to frame the former IRS agent who convicted him.”

“What about the video that showed the license plate of the car used in the theft?” someone asked.

“With Jefferson’s resources I suspect it would be easy to make a forgery of a car tag,” Boulder said. “Also, Jefferson likes to use others without them knowing it is himself, witness the IRS case. That’s why there was such an elaborate exchange of the exhibit on the night of the theft.”

“I can add more to this.” It was Captain Larry Lewis, Jackson Police Department. “We have apprehended the alarm worker who hasn’t shown up for work. He says that he is ready to give a statement about his involvement, but he wants a lawyer first. My guess is that he will admit to being hired to do the theft. He’s having trouble explaining a five thousand dollar bank deposit on Tuesday.”

At 1:30 P.M. Jack Boulder and Laura Webster could be found sharing a late lunch at a table by the window at their favorite Jackson restaurant. Each had a glass of red wine in front of them.

“Congratulations,” Laura said. “Solved a rather complicated case, recovered the stolen item and will receive quite a nice income from it. How much was it? A hundred grand?”

“I got lucky,” Boulder said. “And I certainly did not believe it could be done in seven days. And besides, I’ve got quite a few expenses. There is this law firm that ran the 800-number hotline that will also receive a nice income, plus a bonus. And then there are income taxes.”

“You’ll need some deductions on your taxes this year,” she said.

“I already have one in mind,” he said.

“What’s that?”

“I never knew much about the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum until this case,” he said. “It does some rather important work and needs to keep growing.”

“Do I hear a contribution?” she said.

“Yes,” he replied. “And it will be a nice one at that.”

And with that, their wine glasses clinked in a mutual silent toast.



AUTHOR’S COMMENTS – This serial novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.  There was no break-in at the museum. There is no trophies exhibit. The author encourages your support of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum and congratulates Brett Favre and the other inductees into the 2015 Class. Go to www.msfame.com for more information.

Mississippi State Flag Column from 2001 (just before vote on state flag change)

Look out! Red and Fred tackle the volatile flag issue

From the Ground Up

Once again we find Fred and Red at the Main Street coffee shop discussing issues of the day and other serious matters, such as whether the unseasonably warm weather will last through the weekend.

Fred: I see you’ve installed one of those banner flagpoles on your house.

Red: I’ve been meaning to do that a long time. Last Veterans Day I looked around, and all my neighbors had those little flag banners stinking out from their houses or sprouting from trees in their front yards. One neighbor has his son’s high school banner, another has one with an acorn on it, and the lady across the street has a big yellow one with a tennis racket on it. I decided it was time for me to show off what I believed in.

Fred: So you went and bought an American flag kit?

Red: More or less. That big appliance store was giving them away with the purchase of a new big screen TV. I needed a new TV. Figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone.

Fred: But you aren’t flying the American flag? You’re flying the Mississippi flag?

Red: Now there you go Fred, showing your ignorance again. Pass some of that artificial sweetener this way, please sir.

Fred: You have managed to confuse me this morning, Red. I thought you said that Veterans Day brought out the American in you, so you went and got an American flag. Now you are flying a Mississippi flag.

Red: The weather has got your ears messed up. I didn’t say that at all. I said that on Veterans Day I got to thinking about getting a flag. The appliance store gave me a choice — an American flag or what used to be the Mississippi flag. According to the Mississippi Supreme Court, Mississippi does not have a flag. So, let’s just refer to it as the “Flag Formerly Known as the State Flag of Mississippi.”

Fred: I haven’t seen you this emotional about something in a long time.

Red: This flag thing did it. Not only am I flying the “flag formerly known as the State Flag of Mississippi” on my house, I am sporting a new bumper sticker on my pickup that says, “Preserve Mississippi’s Heritage.” It’s time to take a stand on this issue.

Fred: Good for you. People should stand up for what they believe in.

Red: That’s right. Do you want a bumper sticker? I’ve got a half dozen of them.

Fred: No thanks.

Red: Why not? Your grandfather fought at Vicksburg. You’re a bona fide ancestor of a Confederate veteran. Aren’t you proud of your heritage? And shouldn’t people stand up for what they believe in, like you just said?

Fred: I’m very proud of my heritage and I love Mississippi. But I’m not going to put one of those bumper stickers on my vehicle. And I’m a descendent of a Confederate veteran, not an ancestor.

Red: Whatever.

Fred: This flag thing is really getting some people riled up, isn’t it?

Red: Man, you are not kidding. People are tired of having things shoved down their throats. This is one time we can make a stand.

Fred: Some people might say that the old Mississippi flag was shoved down their throats.

Red: Well then they can just vote for a new one, if and when we have a vote that’s going to cost $3 million. Ask the server to bring us some more coffee, will you?

Fred: I applaud you for standing up for what you believe in. You obviously have strong feelings about it.

Red: (standing up) Oh my gosh, look at the time. I told the wife I would bring home some butter. She’s baking a cake for the church bazaar tonight. I better get going. Now, you are going to vote, aren’t you?

Fred: Of course.

Red: Good. I’m glad we’re finally having freedom of choice. Isn’t that what everybody wanted — freedom of choice?

Fred: Um hmm.

Red: Well, tell everybody to vote for “The Flag Formerly Known as the State Flag of Mississippi.” And tell them to call me if they need a bumper sticker.

Fred: I’m not voting for the “Flag Formerly Known as the State Flag of Mississippi.”

Red: (sitting back down and leaning forward) My gosh, Fred. Don’t say that so loud. Somebody might hear you. Are you feeling okay?

Fred: I feel fine. It’s just that if more people vote for “The Flag Formerly Known as the State flag of Mississippi” then we will be worse off than we are now.

Red: What in the devil’s name are you talking about? The best flag wins. Whichever one. And that will be it.

Fred: I’m afraid not, Red. If the old flag wins then I fear we will see people filing lawsuits, marching in the streets, telling others not to have their conventions in Mississippi, and talking on national television about how we can’t get away from our racially-troubled past. Not only that, some people say that economic development will be hurt. How do you think some company is going to feel if they announce a new plant in Mississippi, then get a visit to their annual stockholders’ meeting by some group wanting to boycott Mississippi?

Red: That’s a scare tactic, and you know it, Fred. What we have here is pure and simple — some people want one flag and some people don’t want it. An election by the people is the way to decide it, and the vote is final. Loser goes home.

Fred: So you think this is all about choice?

Red: Absolutely. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Fred: Sorry, Red. This isn’t about choice.

Red: So, what’s it about?

Fred: It’s about peace.

Phil Hardwick’s column on Mississippi Business appears regularly in the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is phil@hardwick.com.

Phil Hardwick’s Strategy Letter Launched


In case you haven’t heard, I retired from the Stennis Institute recently. Of course, that does not mean I have retired altogether. I’m still teaching part-time at Millsaps College, facilitating strategic planning retreats, doing leadership training, writing and generally staying busier than ever. You can read more about that in this Mississippi Business Journal article.
I’ll also be publishing my new monthly newsletter, which will be about strategy and goal setting. Each issue will feature an organization (profit or nonprofit), a government entity and an individual.
IMPORTANT – To receive my FREE newsletter, simply send an email to phil@philhardwick.com. Enter SUBSCRIBE STRATEGY in the subject.  Oh, one more thing: Your email address will never be shared with anyone else.
Now that we have that out of the way let’s get to it.
In the business world, the search for new strategies is everywhere. Newspapers and retailers especially have to figure out new strategies. Strategy is about HOW to achieve goals. Sometimes the right strategy is tied to the wrong goal, and vice versa.

In 2011, Ron Johnson left Apple to become CEO of J.C. Penney. His strategy for the struggling department store chain was to eliminate cashiers and checkout counters and have small, more upscale specialty shops within the department store. No more clearance sales and heavy couponing. An interesting strategy, for sure. How did it work out? Only 17 months after Johnson came to Penney, sales had plunged, losses had grown and Johnson was out the door. Read about it in this Business Insider slide show:
or this Forbes magazine article:

Ever heard of CircleUp? It’s strategy is to connect investors with innovative consumer and retail companies using a crowdfunding platform, i.e. using the Internet to connect a large number of investors to an investment. For companies, it’s a new strategy to raise capital. Check it out at https://circleup.com.
Cities are always looking for strategies to create more revenue because citizens loathe the idea of having taxes raised. Earlier this month Atlanta decided to ask businesses to place ads on public buildings and other public places. It appears that the strategy is backfiring as citizen uproar is rather loud. Just because this strategy worked for naming public sports complexes doesn’t mean it will work for other city properties. Read about it at:
It’s that time of year for New Year’s resolutions and goal setting of all types. What’s your goal for 2015? And what is your strategy for achieving it? Research has shown that there are three keys (strategies) to achieving goals: (1) write it down, (2) share it with someone else and (3) be accountable to someone. I’ll be putting those strategies into practice in my hometown by forming a goal setters luncheon club that will meet on a regular basis during the year to hold each other accountable for achieving our goals. If you’re in the Jackson, Mississippi area and would like more information about joining the group just send me an email at phil@philhardwick.com.
We judge ourselves by our intentions. We judge others by their actions.
Wishing you a healthy, happy and strategic 2015.

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Mississippi Business Journal’sTop Stories of 2012

Here are the Mississippi Business Journal‘s Top Stories of 2012 as published in the December 28, 2012 edition (subscription required):

Kemper County Coal Plant fights to survive;

Mississippi River levels plummet;

Republicans strengthen hold on state government;

GreenTech Automotive launches MyCar;

Hurricane Isaac lashes Gulf Coast;

Twin Creeks leaves state holding an empty bag; and

Bryant signs “high-gravity bill.”