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Southwest Airlines magazine to feature Jackson

‘Spirit’ of Capitol City

Supporters of Jackson bemoan the fact that the Capital City simply does not get enough positive publicity. Their mission is to get the word out to a wide audience that Jackson is a vibrant, growing city with much to offer visitors and prospective residents.

So, Downtown Jackson Partners (DJP), the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, Jackson Visitors & Convention Bureau (CVB), Jackson Municipal Airport Authority and Watkins Partners & Development are beyond thrilled that Pace Communications has chosen to spotlight Jackson in the August 2009 edition of Spirit magazine. In fact, the groups are throwing a party May 14 to celebrate the coup.

Spirit magazine is the in-flight publication of Southwest Airlines, the No. 1 domestic airline in terms of passengers boarded in and out of Jackson-Evers International Airport. According to a joint release from the local organizations supporting the feature piece, Spirit has the second largest audience in the in-flight category with a monthly readership of more than 3.2 million.

The groups say the feature piece, titled “Meet: Jackson,” will consist of a minimum of 24 pages of editorial copy, and that Jackson would be only the fourth city the magazine has ever spotlighted.

“Spirit’s selection of Jackson provides the perfect opportunity to spotlight some of our greatest assets, including our burgeoning arts and culture, our rich history, unique music and culinary heritage, downtown’s renaissance, first-class medical facilities and collegiate institutions, award-winning attractions, large-scale festivals and special events,” the release said.

Ben Allen, who heads up DJP, said he and other city leaders were pleasantly surprised when Jackson was chosen. In late April, Chris Denby, business development manager with Greensboro, N.C.-based Pace Communi-cations, Spirit magazine’s publisher of its profiled city pieces, met with representatives of the DJP, Chamber, CVB and Watkins to talk about putting a feature piece together. Allen said Jackson was on a list of 20 proposed cities vying for the publicity piece. He foresaw a long wait to see if Jackson won, and was thrilled when he got news within hours that the Capitol City would get the ink.

“It is really exciting,” Allen said. “Only four other cities have been featured in Spirit magazine. So, obviously we’re thrilled.”

Denby said his company chose Jackson not because it is such an important market to Southwest, though that fact did not hurt. Rather, Pace looks for cities that are undergoing a renaissance — a trend toward rebirth, he said. These cities either are lesser known than larger metropolitan areas, or that suffer from misperceptions and misinformation. (The other profiled cities are Jacksonville, Fla., Baltimore, Md., Tulsa, Okla., and Kansas City, Mo.)

“We look for cities with leaders who are excited,” Denby said. “We hope that our readers feel that excitement.”

Denby said Pace has committed to doing a feature story of at least 24-26 pages. It could run as many as 36 pages. In any event, the “Meet: Jackson” piece will be a substantial chunk of the publication, which can run anywhere from 130-200 pages.

The feature story will cover five areas of interest — the business landscape, the arts, higher education, healthcare and hospitality/tourism. He said Pace has found that covering those areas gives readers a good picture of a community’s fabric.

“We want this piece to make a difference for Jackson,” Denby said. “We’re in the hospitality and tourism business, but we aren’t hoping this piece just brings visitors to the city. We hope it brings people there to live.”

The May 14 cocktail reception is by invitation only. It will be held from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Jackson Convention Complex.

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


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