Just two days after the 2000 legislative session opens, the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) will host a legislative reception on its second annual Capital Day, aimed at giving members a peek inside the inner workings of state government.
“The whole idea is to have it at a time when everyone’s talking and trying to meet new people,” said Blake Wilson, MEC’s president. “That’s why we scheduled it on opening week. It’s a great opportunity to see what’s happening at the Capital.”
Last year, more than 400 business leaders from around the state attended the event and more than 60% of the legislators attended the reception, Wilson said.
“We expect to see that number dramatically increase in January,” Wilson said. “We already have a very strong attendance rolling in. Our members are very interested in what the Legislature’s priorities are and how all of it works together. MEC members can meet legislators, see a bit of the session and go to a committee hearing – if there is one that day. The new governor will be invited to speak and hopefully will do that.”
Hugh Durham, regional manager of public affairs for International Paper in Jackson, said two dozen company managers from around the state attended last year’s legislative reception and more company representatives will more than likely attend next month’s Capital Day.
MEC’s Capital Day in Jackson is scheduled for Jan. 6, with a special briefing at the Coliseum Ramada Inn from 9:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., followed by a state official reception at Dennery’s Restaurant from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
“We will have a standing buffet reception offering attendees an opportunity to meet legislative leaders, new legislators and state officials while enjoying a great lunch,” Wilson said. “(Capital Day) is also designed to complement, rather than compete with, other trade association receptions.”
Chuck Jordan, president of Planters Bank and Trust Co. in Greenville, who has traveled to Jackson for numerous organizations’ legislative events for many years, said, “I was most impressed with the event MEC sponsored at last year’s Capital Day. We were able to sit down and talk about issues with legislative leaders in an organized fashion. At the same time, we were able to mix and mingle with them. I’m impressed with the seriousness of the legislators in wanting to make our state a better place, and, at the same time, I’m impressed with MEC’s part in that effort.”
A MEC board meeting and local chamber convocation will take place from 1:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Cost of the daylong affair is $45 per attendee, including lunch and breaks. Groups of five or more may be discounted, depending on the time of registration.
“The neatest thing about Capital Day is that it’s a great way for someone who doesn’t come to Jackson regularly to come in and have a meaningful participation with members of the Legislature without having to spend the night here,” Wilson said. “Many business people don’t have the time to stay overnight.”
Dwight Evans, chairman-elect of MEC and president of Mississippi Power Company, said, “At no other time in Mississippi’s history has it been more important that business leaders representing the private sector in Mississippi find a positive involvement with the political process so that working together can begin to shape an even brighter future for our state.”
“MEC’s role in bringing together the business sector in Mississippi will already leave a rich legacy, but it’s more important today than ever that business leaders throughout the state collectively align themselves with the political process so that we can move forward and continue to grow the economy of this state,” Evans said.
Like it or not, we live in a political society, said Harry Baxter, vice chairman of BancorpSouth in Tupelo.
“Our destinies, whether personal or professional, are determined to a great extent by the political process,” Baxter said. “It is imperative that business people from all over the state in all types of industries participate in the political process.”
For more information about Capital Day, call MEC at 1-800-748-7626.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.