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2018 Mississippi Innovators Hall of Fame Awards Gala

Innovate Mississippi hosted the 6th Mississippi Innovators Hall of Fame Gala, presented by mTrade, on September 13th at the Country Club of Jackson. The Mississippi Innovators Hall of Fame was established in 2008 to recognize outstanding individuals and companies who have helped put Mississippi on the map as a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship.

This year, Wade H. Creekmore, Jr. and James (Jimmy) H. Creekmore, Sr., co-founders of C Spire in Ridgeland, were honored as the co-recipients of the 2018 Legend Award. This prestigious award is presented to distinguished, exemplary and visionary leaders and innovators who have had a legendary impact on the state of Mississippi. Previous Legend Award recipients include Jim Barksdale, Dr. Robert Khayat, Ambassador John Palmer, Joe Sanderson Jr., and Bill Yates.

Wade and Jimmy are both Jackson natives and graduates of the University of Mississippi. Together they co-founded Cellular South (now known as C Spire) with nine employees and three wireless towers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. C Spire has grown into the largest privately-held wireless company in the nation with approximately 1800 employees and one million customers.

In addition, these outstanding and successful entrepreneurs were inducted into the Mississippi Innovators Hall of Fame: Gail Pittman, Leo Seal, Jr. (posthumously), Ernest Burdette, Robert Sandoz and Frank Wilem, Jr.

Gail Pittman is the founder of Gail Pittman Inc. in Ridgeland. She began her remarkable career in her home kitchen, painting pre-made pottery on a revolving spice rack. What began as a hobby has since grown into a multi-million dollar operation. Today Gail provides custom dinnerwear for high-end restaurants, resorts, and casinos across the country.

Leo Seal, Jr. was a college football player, a World War II veteran and a successful businessman who worked every job at Hancock Bank through his professional career and rose to the highest ranks of his profession, while serving his community and his country. Seal passed away in 2008, but his legacy lives on not only through his family and the thriving bank he helped build, but through his remarkable impact on the state of Mississippi. Accepting the award on his behalf was his son, Lee Seal.

Frank Wilem Jr., Dr. Ernest Burdette and Robert Sandoz are the founders of Triton systems. They started their company in 1979 with only a $1500 investment. At the time, due to the expense, ATMs were limited to one per bank branch. The three founders developed technology that enabled ATM’s to be placed outside of banks, including convenient stores, gas stations, grocery stores, etc. Triton not only pioneered a low-cost ATM, they changed the way the entire industry was perceived.

Four emerging high-growth innovators are also recognized as Innovation Impact Award recipients. These include Algix in Meridian, Brighter Health Network in Flowood, Edgetheory in Ridgeland, and Kopis Mobile in Flowood.

“Through the Mississippi Innovators Hall of Fame, we are able to acknowledge and celebrate those innovators who have sacrificed to build a business from the ground up – and who are ultimately creating jobs and wealth for our state.” said Tony Jeff, President and CEO of Innovate Mississippi. “Each of these innovators has a great story and part of our mission is to make sure those stories are told to inspire the next generation of Mississippi innovators.”

It was an honor to celebrate these remarkable individuals and companies for having distinguished themselves as outstanding innovators and entrepreneurs and for their legendary impact on the state of Mississippi.

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