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Millsaps College launching Family Business Institute next month

Millsaps College has added a new program to its business offerings designed specifically for family-owned businesses. The Family Business Institute will hold its first seminar titled “Issues in Family Owned Business” September 6-7 at the Cabot Lodge Millsaps in Jackson.

Registration and a reception will be held September 5 at the hotel beginning at 6:30 p.m. Registration, along with a continental breakfast, will be provided September 6 beginning at 8 a.m.

Attendees will be afforded the opportunity to learn the principles and practices for leading family companies, and it is designed for open communication between the presenters and attendees, with each session ending in a question-and-answer/group discussion session.

Howard McMillan, dean of the Millsaps College Else School of Management, says, “The idea is to have a practical seminar built upon an exchange of ideas rather than a total lecture approach.”

Family (business) roots

The Family Business Institute is the brainchild of Harold D. “Hal” Miller Jr., who has vast experience and knowledge of family-owned businesses. For 65 years now, his family has owned and operated Miller Transporters, and for 48 years he has been a member of the law firm of Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada, during which time he has represented numerous family-owned businesses and mediated disputes in those type businesses. Miller is also associated with W.A. Wimberly Associates, which offers consulting services to family-owned businesses and closely-held concerns.

For approximately three years, Miller mulled establishing a program such as the Family Business Institute. His research found that many colleges and universities offer such a program, but none in Mississippi. Roughly three months ago, he approached McMillan with his idea.

“When Hal came to me with the proposal, I gave it my enthusiastic support,” McMillan says. “It’s something that is truly needed in Mississippi. Family-owned businesses have been and continue to be the backbone of our economy.”

“The issues of family-owned businesses can be difficult,” says Miller, who now serves as the institute’s director. “I’m not saying the issues are bad, just unique. And I’ve learned over the years that there are certain problems that are universal among family-owned businesses. That’s why I wanted to establish the institute at Millsaps.”

Open to suggestions

The Family Business Institute’s first seminar will focus on some of the legal aspects of family-owned businesses. The topics range from “Stockholder Agreements for Family Owned Businesses” to “Valuation Issues for Family Owned Businesses.”

The presenters’ expertise match the topics to be covered. In addition to Miller, they are: E. Clifton Hodge, a partner in the law firm Phelps Dunbar; James A. Koerber, CPA, a shareholder at The Koerber Company, P.A.; and, Jay A. Travis III, an attorney at Butler Snow, which is also a sponsor of the event.

As mentioned earlier, Miller’s vision for the program is an open forum. The presenters will speak on the issue academically, then discussion will begin between all involved with Miller serving as moderator. Miller says he wants to hear dialogue, especially among the attendees as they share their successes and challenges with each other.

The immediate plan is to offer a new seminar every three months. Each event would be focused on a specific aspect of family-owned business. But the Family Business Institute could evolve into more than just seminars.

Miller says other institutes offer membership fees, the opportunity to pick up the phone and talk to an expert, mailings of family-owned business-related articles, etc. Miller says whether these type services would be offered in the future would be up to owners of family businesses. A letter has already been sent to owners of family businesses asking what they would want to see. The phone number for more information on the upcoming seminar is (601) 974-1250, but Miller invites all owners of family businesses, even those not planning on attending the seminar, to call the number and give their input.

To register for the seminar, call the number above, or visit www.millsaps.edu/esom/fbi/, then click “Register.” Seating is limited, so early registration is encouraged.

Cabot Lodge Millsaps will offer lodging. For more information on rooms, call (601) 948-8650 or toll-free 1-800-874-4737, or go online at www.cabotlodgemillsaps.com/.

The cost for attendees requiring overnight accommodations is $2,200, and $2,000 for those not needing a bed. The fee covers program materials, breakfast and lunch both days, social receptions, attendance certificate and attendee profile and contact list.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

About Wally Northway

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