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Do you have what it takes for Top 40 Under 40?

In January 2007, the Mississippi Business Journal will honor 40 outstanding young people from throughout Mississippi with our 14th-annual Top 40 Under 40 event.

The Top 40 Under 40 program, with which we recognize 40 of the state’s up-and-coming business leaders under the age of 40, has become one of the most prestigious awards in the state. In order to qualify for consideration, a person must have been born after December 1, 1966, and have lived and worked in Mississippi for at least two years. Successful candidates must have impressive professional accomplishments and be making a positive difference in their communities.

Winners are recognized at a sellout luncheon during our annual Mississippi Business and Technology EXPO in January. A professional multimedia presentation featuring each winner is shown while the honoree accepts the award. Friends, family and colleagues enjoy a great meal and participate in the festivities. It really is a first-class affair and a memorable experience for everyone.

This installment of Top 40 Under 40 is my 11th year to work with the program, and it’s one of the most gratifying experiences in my role as publisher. This program honors young people who are truly making a difference in their communities and, hopefully, encourages them to continue their efforts throughout their lives. And, we hope, by their example, encouraging other young folks to get active in improving the quality of life in their communities.

The Top 40 winners are truly an impressive bunch. They are leaders in their career fields and in their communities; they have won the respect of their peers and they give back generously to their neighbors to make Mississippi a better place to live and work.

With the program having been around for nearly 15 years, it’s not uncommon to see the Top 40 awards hanging in people’s offices across the state. Frequently, when I am privileged to speak to groups around the state, someone will come up after the program and introduce themselves as a Top 40 alum and tell me how much the award has meant to them. It is truly a heart-warming experience for me.

It’s very important that Mississippi reverse the trend of training our youngsters only to have the best and brightest leave the state to pursue their lives and careers elsewhere.

Though much is left to do, gradually, ever so gradually, Mississippi is becoming a better place to pursue one’s career. It’s our hope, and one of the goals of Top 40, to recognize some of our finest young people so others will realize that they, too, can be successful pursuing their careers right here at home.

The nomination period is open for the 2007 Top 40 program, and our independent judges are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to study the achievements of this year’s nominees. The program is statewide and cuts across all business boundaries. The key requirement is a fixed and steady commitment to making our state a better place for now and for the years to come.

It is our hope that in recognizing these exceptional young professionals, we’ll all be better off — perhaps inspired — to exceed expectations, to excel and to make Mississippi the best that it can be.

We encourage you to support Top 40 Under 40 by submitting nominations for deserving candidates.

A full-page Top 40 Under 40 nomination form is on page 22 of this week’s Mississippi Business Journal.

Thought for the Moment

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. — Romans 12:21

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

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