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As I See It

Autumn one of the best times of the year

September is about over and, with it, the third quarter comes to an end. Lots going on as we head into the home stretch for 2004.

The Mississippi Business Journal has enjoyed several exciting successes in recent months, and I’d like to share some of those tidbits of joy to make up for the harsh columns of recent weeks dealing with government financial problems, the plight of healthcare and inadequate retirement funds.

In August, we conducted our eighth annual 50 Leading Business Women program. This event has steadily grown in size and scope over its brief existence, and we’re very proud to be a part of providing successful women a forum to network and learn from each other.

I know how important the program is to the participants by the notes and letters I receive each year. Our director of special projects, Robbie L. Bell, is the perfect person to bring 50 Women together, and it’s a pleasure for me to be a part of it.

Encouraging achievement

For the first time in our 25-year history, we’ve veered off the beaten path of business publishing. After more than a year of planning, selling, persuading and cajoling, Mississippi NEXT: A Guide to Life After High School will be distributed to all 10th, 11th and 12th graders in the state of Mississippi next week. The book is 100 pages and the press run was almost 100,000 copies.

NEXT has stories on everything from choosing a college to taking the ACT to whether to take a microwave to the dorm (don’t). Though the publication includes brief summaries for all community and senior colleges, it’s much more than a college prep manual.

Statistics tell us that only 30% of our high school students will graduate from college. Accordingly, NEXT includes employment and training opportunity tips for the non-college bound. Construction trades, military (both part-time and full-time), industrial training and other good careers not requiring a bachelor’s degree are covered.

We strongly believe that raising the educational level of all Mississippians is going to be required to lift our state up to a higher economic level. Almost all jobs now require some type of training beyond a high school diploma.

We hope that NEXT will be a resource to many youngsters who are thinking about their future and are uncertain as to what they want to do.

Our thanks go out to the government agencies and advertisers who believed in the concept of NEXT enough to fund the project without having a tangible finished product to look at.

NEXT will also be online at www.msnext.com the first week of October. Check it out and I think you’ll be infected with our excitement about this project. Incidentally, the photos appearing in NEXT feature Mississippi kids.

Finalizing details for new MARL facility

Changing gears, yet staying “light and airy,” the board of directors of the Mississippi Animal Rescue League has authorized the architects to finalize plans for the new shelter, which will be located in Southwest Jackson.

We’ve been sweating over this project for over eight years and I, for one, am excited to see the green light to proceed.
The new shelter will be built on 50+ acres on Greenway Drive, near the WalMart on Highway 18 South. Finally, we will have our entire operation in one central location and enjoy the benefits of a brand new, state-of-the-art facility.

I want to thank all our many donors who have supported us in our capital campaign. I especially want to thank the trustees of the Gertrude Ford Foundation and the Ed and Ruby Morgan Foundation for their making the new shelter possible.

Quality time on the tractor

I have long known that my worst day in the woods was better than a good day in the office.

Last week I spent about 40 hours plowing and planting food plots for Big Woods Hunting Club in Simpson County. We put out more than 28,000 pounds of seed and fertilizer (good ol’ 13:13:13). Ironically, after growing up on a farm, I went to college, in part, to avoid what I now enjoy doing. I do love the smell of diesel fuel.

Fall is my favorite time of year, and it’s here. Spending time outside in the fresh air breeds a positive frame of mind while watching the political cat fights playing on CNN creates a mood of gloom and doom. Get on a tractor and burn some diesel fuel, clear your head and experience the joy of living here in the good ol’ USA.

Thought for the Moment —
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. — Psalms 118:24

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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