RIDGELAND — When J.C. Burns and Jef Judin became friends several years ago, they began comparing notes.
Burns, former executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority and a former bank executive from Batesville, and Judin, co-founder and former vice-president of AIR2LAN and an Emmy award-winning film producer from Jackson, were both in the business of economic development.
“As time went by, we realized there was a tremendous opportunity to blend our skills to reach a higher level of business consulting,” said Burns. “I provided traditional analysis, research and planning services for communities, companies and regional development authorities. Jef brought innovative marketing approaches, utilizing the Internet and new communications technologies, to the table. Together, we represented both the traditional and the advanced technological methods needed by communities to advance their economic growth.”
In November, the two partnered to launch Strategic-e-Media, a multi-faceted consulting and new media company focusing on economic development for regional organizations, communities and businesses.
“Aside from the many communities we are talking to about economic development, we are currently working with two companies that are looking for additional locations and two landowners that have substantial amounts of land they want to develop,” said Burns. “We are also developing an e-campaign for a medical company providing second opinions, and working with a company manufacturing a next generation communications device.”
The firm’s services include economic development and design, keynote presentations, media consulting, strategic planning, e-marketing, Web site development, video conferencing and multi-media presentation, including community showcasing through photography and streaming video. Consulting services include community assessment, documentation and analysis, according to the company’s website at www.strategicemedia.com
“When businesses that are expanding begin their site selection process, it’s not unusual for a community or a state to get a call on a Tuesday morning requesting information by that Thursday afternoon, giving them very little time,” Burns said. “If we’re representing a community, they’ll be able to respond in an expeditious way because we will have prepared them to do so. They’ll be able to present themselves and what their community has to offer in the best possible light using cutting edge presentation methods.
“Our objective will be to redefine a community’s marketing approach and economic development plan, to get them from where they are — to where they want to be.”
Strategic-e-Media announced last week that Susan Marquez, former marketing director for Northpark Mall in Ridgeland, recently named one of Mississippi’s 50 Leading Business Women, has joined the team. Burns said her expertise in the retail sector will be invaluable to communities in developing and implementing strategies designed to incubate community retail centers.
“Municipalities depend a great deal on the sales tax revenue stream,” said Marquez. “Our goal is to fashion a customized plan for each interested community to increase that revenue stream, even in this time of reduced business activity. It’s crucial to their economic health.”
Even though Strategic-e-Media is located in Mississippi, Burns and Judin are already discussing projects with clients nationally and internationally.
“Partnerships between communities in Mississippi and companies from around the world have been achieved,” said Judin. “We know that’s attainable. And the Internet has no borders. It is an excellent tool to expand the boundaries of a community’s marketing and public relations efforts to reach businesses anywhere.”
Burns added, “No matter where you are, the elements of economic development are basically the same. Companies want to feel good about where they’re locating. Communities want to feel good about their corporate citizens. They want to be able to trust each other and they want to form a mutually beneficial partnership. That’s the thread that runs through economic development.”
Burns, who is one of the people credited with landing the $930-million Nissan plant in Madison County in November 2000, but was dismissed by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove last October, said he has been “very pleased” with the reception of Strategic-e-Media.
“I’m gratified by the enthusiastic response to the launch of Strategic-e-Media and energized by the possibilities to expand the economic growth of all our clients,” he said.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org</a.