Tag Archives: mississippi economic development council

Inducted as Honorary Life Member of Mississippi Economic Development Council

February 4, 2016

Today is a very special day for me as I was inducted as an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Mississippi Economic Development Council. Thanks to my bosses over the past 25-plus years: Kane Ditto, former mayor of Jackson, MS, Matt Holleman, former President & CEO of Mississippi Valley Gas Company (now Atmos Energy) and Marty Wiseman, former executive director of the Stennis Institute, Mississippi State University. Also, to David Rumbarger, CEO of the Community Development Foundation, Tupelo, MS, for nominating me, and my wife of almost 36 years, the beautiful and incredible Carol Hardwick.


Trends in Economic Development – 2013

Jay Moon, Immediate Past-Chair of the International Economic Development Council and current President and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, addressed the Mississippi Economic Development Council today on the subject of Trends in Economic Development.  Here are my notes from his remarks:

Global competition will increase;

Attracting capital will be more difficult;

Budget cuts will increase;

Business closures and downsizing will occur at a more rapid pace;

There will be an absolute need to increase efficiency in the business community;

Accountability will be the rule – for everyone;

Natural and man-made disasters will continue to affect economies and businesses;

Energy markets will be shifting; and

There will be multiple labor market and workforce challenges.

Gray Swoope and MDA’s Guiding Principles

It would be difficult to add much more to the accolades and tributes about Gray Swoope, Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority(MDA), who is leaving soon to take a similar post in Florida.  Nevertheless, I’ll do my best to contribute by mentioning something attributable to Gray that often goes unnoticed.

Gray is a strategic thinker.  That becomes immediately evident when you hear him speak.  He understands his product (the state) and his agency’s role.  He instituted five guiding principles at MDA, which he enumerated in the fall 2010 issue of Developments, the newsletter of the Mississippi Economic Development Council.  Those principles have served him and MDA well.  They are as follows:

1.  thinking globally;

2.  building strategic  partnerships;

3.  being innovative;

4.  adjusting to the market and

5.  maintaining fiscal responsibility.

Thanks, and best wishes, Gray.

What do Jay Leno and Phil Hardwick have in common?

Both have had their shoes shined by Doc Cousin, the Shoe Shine Doctor.









Today I had the opportunity to have my shoes shined by the best.  Doc Cousin, more commonly known as The Shoe Shine Doctor, operates out of downtown Jackson, Mississippi, but don’t be surprised to see him at special events and conferences just about anywhere.  At the host’s invitation he sets up shop and offers a free shoe shine, being compensated only by what tips he earns.  From what I saw at the 2011 Mississippi Economic Development Council Conference I would say he is doing alright because every time I went by his stand there was a line for his outstanding shine.  Speaking as a former U.S. Army M.P. I know a good shine when I see one.

The Shoe Shine Doctor has a compelling and interesting story.  Here’s a clip about the Shoe Shine Doctor from another Web site:

Darrell “Doc” Cousin is a native of Youngstown, Ohio who has been an entrepreneur in the shoeshine business for over 30 years.

After Doc’s father retired from the steel mill, he opened a family business consisting of a hat shop & shoe shine parlor.  Doc took interest of the shoe shine art at the age of six.  It was then that he learned the craft from one of his father’s employees who worked the shoe shine stand.  At age 13, Doc was diagnosed with bone cancer.  Doctors only gave him a maximum of 6 months to live.  In spite of this obstacle, Doc continued to hone his craft in the art of shoe shining.

In the early 70’s, Doc moved to California with his mother and took his developed skills with him.  After experiencing an accident while working construction, Doc decided to go back to the craft of shoe shining, and opened up a shoe shine stand at the Ramada Inn.  It was then he realized this was an art form he loved.  While working at the local mall, a client tipped Doc off that Floyd Jackson, the long time shoe shine man at NBC Studios was retiring and a replacement was being sought.  The client dropped Doc’s name to NBC Studios executives which resulted in them calling Doc in for an interview.  The rest (as they say) is history.  In 1985, Doc signed on as a contractor for NBC Studios where he was in charge of shining shoes for the entire lot.  His biggest clients were “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” staff and guests who appeared on the show including Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon & current host Jay Leno.  Doc serviced other entertainers as well.  One such entertainer was James Jenkins.  Doc was dispatched on a house call to service 98 pairs of shoes for Jenkins!

Doc moved to Mississippi in the ’90’s to be with his family after his father passed away.  Doc has been featured in numerous newscasts, news & magazine articles, a documentary on Mississippi Public Television, “Mississippi Roads”, and appeared in movie “Top of the World” starring Peter Weller and Dennis Hopper.

Doc gave me an immaculate shine, an inspirational story and some good old-fashioned fellowship.  I’ll be stopping by to see him at his main shop in the Pinnacle Building, 100 East Capitol Street, Jackson, Mississippi.  He can be reached by phone at 662-523-7795. Call him to add a unique feature to your next conference, convention or meeting.

See more photos of The Shoe Shine Doctor with his celebrity clients.

Swoope and Wade on Economic Development “Coopertition”

(December 14, 2010)

Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Gray Swoope and former Alabama Development Office Director Neal Wade made a joint appearance today at a Mississippi Economic Development Council luncheon in Jackson, Mississippi.

They discussed how Alabama and Mississippi have cooperated and competed over the past few years on projects that involved both states.  One of the more captivating parts of their presentation was an inside look at trips they took together to European automakers.  They also showed a video featuring Governor Haley Barbour and Governor Bob Riley that was used in a recruiting effort for a site on the Mississippi-Alabama line.

It was a fascinating inside at international recruiting by the two states.  I’ll have more in my next Mississippi Business Journal column.


Job Opportunities for Economic Developers in Mississippi

Check out the Mississippi Economic Development Council Web site for the latest job opportunities postings in Mississippi.

Click here.