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Recognition often leads to new opportunities

Cutting-edge businesses, corporate leaders honored

After winning six gold medals in the state scholastic arts competition, in which he nabbed the overall Juror’s award in graphic design for a poster he made for his company, and being voted Most Likely to Succeed in his senior class at Jackson Preparatory School, 18-year-old Clay Hardwick was surprised, but not at all uncomfortable, walking to the podium January 19 to accept the award for 2005 Most Promising Emerging Company at the Salute to Business & Industry Awards program at the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson.

The rising star — and the youngest ever Salute to Business & Industry award recipient — accepted the award for his company, Clay Borne Design in Jackson, as one of 23 businesses honored during the sixth-annual program dedicated to good corporate citizenship based on community involvement, workforce development policies and overall leadership.

“I’ve grown up with art as my passion, and computers, too,” said Hardwick. “So the combination of the two interests was just right.”

At least one high-profile business attending the awards program has already contacted Hardwick for possible work. Cellular South inquired recently about having him develop its corporate Web site.

“This award is very good for me, because it gave me name recognition that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise since I’m only 18 and have only been in business a little over a year,” said Hardwick. “I really appreciate the opportunities it’s given me in such a short time.”

Cellular South spokesperson Tanya Rankin said the company “congratulates Clay on his award. He is very talented and definitely making a name for himself. His work speaks for itself.”

The Jackson-based telecommunications company also won a Salute award in the large retail division category.

“Our employees were surprised and thrilled to be selected as Mississippi’s top large retailer as part of MBJ’s Salute to Business and Industry,” said Rankin. “Our credo is simple: to be the best service provider in our region. It’s how we approach everything we do and that includes our involvement with the communities we serve. We want to make an impact and give back to the community whenever possible, and especially our home state of Mississippi. That’s why we are committed to volunteerism, corporate philanthropy and corporate sponsorships. It’s the right thing to do.”

Long-established businesses such as the 104-year-old Jackson-based Mississippi Baptist Health Systems Inc., which won in the large health division category, also appreciated the nod.

“It was an honor to receive this recognition,” said hospital spokesperson Robby Channel. “Our physicians and employees are dedicated to serving the healthcare needs of our state. Receiving this award just reinforces that we are meeting our mission of providing Christian healing and using responsible stewardship of resources to make Mississippi Baptist Health Systems a special place.”

The Salute to Business & Industry Awards program, sponsored by the Mississippi Technology Alliance, Mississippi Development Authority, Trustmark National Bank and WFMN-97.3 SuperTalk Mississippi, was the first of four special events held last month in conjunction with the 22nd-annual Road Runner Business Class Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO, the state’s largest business-to-business trade show.

“The 2005 EXPO was by far the best in every way,” said Robbie Bell, Mississippi Business Journal special projects director. “We did more to dress up the Mississippi Trade Mart, had unbelievable attendance and participation and very smooth events. There must have been 2,000 at Business After Hours.”

This year, 28 Mississippi business leaders were honored during the inaugural Who’s Who in Mississippi Business Awards program, which recognized outstanding achievements by corporate executives. The Who’s Who awards were presented during the Salute to Business & Industry event.

Emerging business leaders from around the state were honored January 19 during the 12th-annual Top 40 Under 40 Awards program, sponsored by Adams and Reese, LLP, and BancorpSouth, and a dozen outstanding female business leaders from the recent 50 Leading Business Women program were recognized January 20 during the Business Woman of the Year Luncheon, sponsored by BellSouth, Holman Dealerships Inc., Mississippi Economic Council, St. Dominic Hospital and Union Planters Bank.

D’Auby Schiel, chairman and CEO of Community Bank-Coast of Ocean Springs, joined Sister Mary Dorothea Sondgeroth, CEO of St. Dominic Hospital, former GodwinGroup advertising executive Robin Tannehill of Oxford, artist Gail Pittman, CEO of Ridgeland-based Gail Pittman Inc., Frances Lucas, president of Millsaps College in Jackson, and Quality Health Services CEO Eleanor Rogers as Mississippi Business Women of the Year, an addition to the 50 Women program that began in 2000.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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