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MBJ declares state’s best of the best

The Top 40 Under 40 Awards are the Mississippi Business Journal’s longest-running recognition program — it is entering its 16th year — and over those years they have lost none of their appeal. Designed to honor those Mississippians who have established themselves as business and community leaders before the age of 40, this year’s winners join a select group of “rising stars,” and is a much-coveted honor.

This year’s class will be recognized during the Top 40 Under 40 Luncheon, which will be held Jan. 14 at noon in the Mississippi Trademart in Jackson as part of the Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO 2009. This year’s luncheon sponsor is again Tupelo-based BancorpSouth, a longtime supporter of the awards program.

The winners will also be featured in an MBJ special publication, which will offer biographical information on each recipient, background on the awards and more. The publication is scheduled for release in March.

“Recognition of the Top 40 is always a highlight of the EXPO,” said MBJ publisher and editor Ed Darling. “This year’s group is simply outstanding. All have made significant contributions to their businesses and communities. Sharing their stories of success and accomplishment focuses an appropriate spotlight on their work.”

Top 40 Under 40 classes are marked by diversity, and this year is no exception. Bankers, lawyers, non-profit executives, entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and more are represented in this year’s class. Each will be recognized during the luncheon with a power point presentation and a plaque.

The criteria for selection are steep. In addition to being under the age of 40, nominees must be employed and have lived and worked in Mississippi at least two years and, emphasizing community participation, must be involved in more than business activities.

Top 40 Under 40 winners have established themselves as successful business people. However, it takes more than just business acumen to make the grade. Recipients must also have already made a name for themselves in their respective communities. That is what makes the award so special — and difficult — to earn. After 5 p.m., the winners’ work is far from done.

MBJ advertising director Kathy Arich said, “Top 40 Under 40 winners have proven themselves both in their workplace and in their communities. They truly ‘burn the midnight oil,’ putting in time and effort at work, then heading off to coach youth sports, sit on non-profit boards, organize community events, support their church and/or a myriad of other things that pay nothing. It is an honor to recognize those who toil so hard to see that others succeed.”

The featured speaker at this year’s Top 40 Under 40 Luncheon is Dr. Bob Litro, a Jackson-based speaker, trainer, author and consultant. Entertainment will be provided by Raphael Semme’s band Swing de Paris.

To order tickets and/or obtain more information, contact account executive Ashley Varnes at (601) 364-1013 or ashley.varnes@msbusiness.com.

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

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