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Posts Tagged ‘Jackson’

Chick-fil-A has customer service down to a science

March 13th, 2012 Comments off

It’s interesting to see how much attention the business world’s service industry, in general, gets for being surly, cantankerous and, in many cases, uninterested.

Yet, things never change.

We complain to ourselves, our spouses or our friends about specific instances at specific businesses, then — more times than not — we continue to patronize the business as if nothing ever happened.

Carlie Kollath at the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo recently wrote a column on the subject. She says that in the current economic times, it is particularly important to keep customers happy and coming back.

First impressions are more important than ever for businesses. Consumers like me are rethinking how we spend money. We don’t buy a new outfit every weekend. And, we have cut back on dining out every night of the week.

But we still shop and eat out.

And when we do, we want businesses to want our business. We want them to be excited that we have chosen to spend money with them instead of someone else.

Yet, I’ve found a lack of enthusiasm in Tupelo lately in the retail and restaurant sector. The main breakdown has been how I am greeted when I enter the business.

I’ve been ignored as employees text on their cell phones. I’ve been talked down to for asking about something I saw on the company’s website that I can’t find in the store.

>> READ KOLLATH’S ENTIRE COLUMN …

It reminds me of a column written by a colleague and friend of mine, the late Tony Lanius, from when I worked at the Daily Journal way back in the stone ages, late last century.

Tony had made a dinner run for the copy desk one evening and encountered some troubles along the way with poor service and a general lack of effort and concern from the staff at a couple of different restaurants along Gloster Ave. To say that Tony was a little unhappy about the experience would be like saying that Mount Everest is kind of tall.

From there, Tony penned his column that got lots of attention across North Mississippi.

The bottom line is it doesn’t take much to be nice. A pleasant disposition, a smile and a few good manners will get you a long way, even if there are other things that aren’t necessarily perfect.

That’s why it’s always nice to do business at Chick-fil-A. You all know what I mean. It’s  the “My pleasure” at the end of the transaction that really gets you — it really classes up the joint. There is always a smile and a good attitude from everyone that permeates each restaurant.

Plus, getting great service, when you don’t always get great service elsewhere, makes visits to Chick-fil-A that much more special.

So, it bears repeating that a smile and a good disposition will get you a long way, whether economic times are good or not. But a smile and good economic times are preferred, if we get a choice.

Mississippi ranks next to last in nation on new measure of opportunity in America

November 28th, 2011 Comments off

The State of Mississippi has placed next to last in the nation, ranking 50th, on a new measure designed to indicate how effectively individuals living in a state can move up the economic ladders of society as compared to the rest of the country.

>> RELATED STORY: Mississippi is fat and stupid

>> RELATED STORY: Mississippi last in reading and math

>> RELATED STORY: Health, education key to Mississippi economy

The measure, called the Opportunity Index, pulls together more than a dozen data points to rank every state by awarding a first of its kind Opportunity Score. The Index is designed to empower community leaders, engaged citizens, and elected officials at all levels to become knowledgeable of the overall opportunity they are providing to those living in their region. It will be issued annually, giving leaders a way to track progress and measure the effectiveness of their efforts. Developed jointly by Opportunity Nation and the American Human Development Project, the Index is available online, for free in a user-friendly and interactive format at www.opportunityindex.org.

“Opportunity Nation starts from the belief that the zip code you’re born into shouldn’t pre-determine your destiny,” said Mark Edwards, executive director of Opportunity Nation. “For too long we have sliced and diced the interconnected issues of education, jobs, families, and communities – the framework underlying the idea of opportunity – into narrow silos that are disconnected. The reality is that these factors work in tandem to determine the potential success of our citizenry. That’s what the Opportunity Index provides – an unprecedented snapshot of what opportunity in America looks like at the local, state and national levels.”

MISSISSIPPI LANDS NEAR BOTTOM

Mississippi landed next to last in the nation, earning an Opportunity Score of 29.8 out of 100. Only the state of Nevada fared worse. The state ranked lower than national averages in 13 out of 16 categories. A few of the trouble areas that Mississippians struggle with include:

· Poverty Plays a Role: Mississippi has the lowest median household income in the country, at $36,796, and the highest poverty rate in the nation at 21.4%. It is one of three states in the nation where median household income is lower than $40,000 per year

· Not Part of the Information Superhighway: Mississippi has the lowest score for high-speed internet access, with only 43.5% of households having high-speed internet.

· Room for Improvement in Education: Mississippi has a significantly lower percentage of on-time high school graduates (64%) than the national average (74%). It is also falling behind in college graduates with only 19% of the population holding a bachelor’s degree. The national average is 27%.

“Having scored at or below the national average in many of the metrics used to formulate their Opportunity Score, Mississippi residents have much work to do before they can say they provide their residents with opportunities to improve their lives,” said

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C Spire pleased with decision by FCC to block AT&T/T-Mobile merger

November 23rd, 2011 Comments off

Executives with C Spire were pleased with the news from Tuesday that the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission took steps  to block the proposed $39 billion merger of the mobile phone companies AT&T and T-Mobile USA.

“We are pleased the FCC has taken this important step toward a formal, administrative hearing to resolve questions regarding AT&T’s claims regarding its takeover of T-Mobile,” Eric Graham, vice president of Strategic and Government Relations for C Spire Wireless, told the Mississippi Business Journal. “C Spire Wireless has long asserted that this acquisition would be harmful to competition, the wireless industry and consumers. This action shows that Chairman Genachowski — like the Department of Justice — recognizes the harm inherent in AT&T’s bid to eliminate a competitor from the marketplace.”

>> SEE RELATED STORY: Judge approves C Spire lawsuit

>> SEE RELATED STORY: iPhone a coup for C Spire

>> SEE RELATED STORY: C Spire reveals iPhone plan

>> SEE RELATED STORY: Competitors react to C Spire’s deal with Apple for iPhone

The chairman, Julius Genachowski, made the move after the commission’s staff concluded that the deal would harm consumers, kill jobs and result in an overly concentrated wireless phone industry, F.C.C. officials said.

The decision puts another large roadblock in front of AT&T, the nation’s second-largest wireless phone company, in its effort to buy T-Mobile, the fourth-largest carrier. In August, the Justice Department filed a federal antitrust lawsuit to block the merger, saying it would stifle competition.

Mr. Genachowski on Tuesday notified the other three F.C.C. commissioners that he intended to refer the proposed merger to an administrative law judge for a trial-like hearing in which AT&T would be required to show that the deal was “in the public interest.” The commission — currently composed of three Democrats, including Mr. Genachowski, and one Republican — is likely to vote on the chairman’s plan in the next couple of weeks, an agency official said.

Bryant forges ahead on healthcare city

November 23rd, 2011 Comments off

You have to give Gov.-elect Phil Bryant credit.

Gov.-elect Phil Bryant

He is jumping in with both feet to work on campaign promises.

>> Read more about healthcare in Mississippi

Bryant is set to lead a trip to Houston, Texas, to tour Texas Medical Center on Nov. 29-30.

Bryant, who will become governor in January, will be joined by Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., Flowood Mayor Gary Rhoads and some health care providers and business leaders.

Texas Medical Center consists of 49 institutions and is recognized as the largest medical center in the world. TMC has 162 buildings on its main campus, nearly 7,000 patient beds, over 90,000 employees, and 71,500 students.

Bryant has proposed creating a hospital city in Jackson, and the Texas Medical Center is a great place to emulate.

We hope that Bryant is able to find the same type of money from the private sector that Texas has been able to collect over the last 50 years.

A friend of mine in the fund-raising business for hospitals says that finding people to give huge amounts of money for healthcare these days is difficult.

Having said that, we applaud Bryant’s efforts.

Of course, one of the things Bryant could do immediately would be to ramp up the discussion on prevention and education.

We harken back to the recent story, “Life Expectancy Falling in 561 Rural Counties” by Bill Bishop that documents the fact that life expectancy is declining in more rural areas than urban ones. Read it. The first thing, though, that pops out is that 14 of the top (uh, worst) 50 counties in America with the shortest life expectancies are in Mississippi, including the top (worst) seven.

Then, there was the report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that highlighted Mississippi and Alabama as the only two states, which continue to apply their sales tax fully to food purchased for home consumption without providing any offsetting relief for low- and moderate-income families.

Gosh, if Mississippians were able to purchase more healthy foods, maybe they wouldn’t have such short lifespans.

There’s more. Men’s Health magazine ranked Jackson No. 3 in the nation as part of its “Laziest City in America” series.

We definitely need a hospital city as well as lots of sidewalks leading up to it so we can exercise on the way to being treated for obesity and heart disease.

So, with one of the slowest growing economies in the nation because of poor education and health care, Bryant’s feeling that healthcare is a prime issue is refreshing.

Starting with the elimination of corn-based sodas from K-12 campuses could jump-start all of Bryant’s plans. We agree.

We also agree that his trip to Houston is productive and a step in the right direction.

Barksdale gets it when it comes to education

November 3rd, 2011 Comments off

Former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale — an education advocate for Mississippi

Education is always the focus of former president and CEO of Netscape Jim Barksdale. Wherever he goes these days, he is singing the praises of Mississippi education.
So, it was interesting to hear Barksdale speak last week at the Mississippi Economic Council’s annual Hobnob event, which came on the heels of the release of the national eighth grade reading in math scores.
Those scores have Mississippi firmly planted at No. 50 in the state rankings.
Yet, Barksdale says Mississippi children are making strides and that it is only a matter of time before the perception of Mississippi’s educational system is different.
The difference between Barksdale and other people who talk about education in Mississippi is that he has that business background to understand what, apparently, politicians do not.
Tough choices have to be made, Barksdale said, referring to teachers and administrators who aren’t living up to the standard our students deserve.
Barksdale is careful to point out that there are a significant number of teachers and administrators who are doing fantastic jobs, and believes making strides forward can be done.
He points to the Teach for America program, which has more volunteers in Mississippi than any other state.
In fact, Delta State University serves as the training ground for teachers for the entire country.
And that program is producing more good teachers and administrators than anything else Mississippi is doing right now.
Barksdale would like to see $12 million of the education budget devoted to help that program.
That’s not $12 million more dollars for education. Barksdale just wants to make sure that $12 million is allocated for that program and he believes the returns are worth the investment.
He is right.

>> RELATED VIDEO: Davis addresses Mississippi Council for Economic Education

>> RELATED STORY: Mississippians more optimistic about economy, education

>> RELATED STORY: Economist — Health, education key to economic growth

The bottom line is that teachers are the key to making the difference in Mississippi’s education.
And Barksdale would like to see a merit-based pay system to reward high-performing teachers.
Tough choices must be made and made now so that we can have better leadership for our future.
Barksdale is against having elected superintendents.
“You couldn’t run a business if you had to have elections for employees,” he said.
Appointing them is the way to go.
All of this won’t be easy and he knows that.
“Nobody likes change, but everybody likes progress.” Barksdale noted.
But he believes we can do it, because, in many cases, our public schools are achieving at a high level.
All of this takes money, and Barksdale stated many times he understands that money won’t buy an education for Mississippi’s kids, but, he said, “Money is essential, just not sufficient.”
Current levels of funding must be held firm is the message to the legislature, which should pay very close attention to Barksdale. He knows what he is doing.
It’s not just the future of the children at risk, it’s for all of us.
“Have faith in these little children,” Barksdale stresses.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018

LAST AGAIN — Mississippi ranked No. 50 in latest reading and math scores

November 1st, 2011 4 comments

We have done it again … Mississippi is ranked 50th in the nation in an education-related subject.

Will the next governor be able to improve on this score?

The good news is that Mississippi improved its score in both reading and math from 2009, but not enough to make up ground on West Virginia at No. 49. Mississippi did rank ahead of the District of Columbia in both categories. Massachusetts ranked No. 1 in both categories with scores of 46 and 51, respectively. Mississippi scores were 21 in reading and 19 in math while the national average were 32 and 34.

>> RELATED STORY: Barksdale gets it when it comes to education

>> RELATED VIDEO: Davis addresses Mississippi Council for Economic Education

>> RELATED STORY: Mississippians more optimistic about economy, education

>> RELATED STORY: Economist — Health, education key to economic growth

Below is a state-by-state look at the percentage of eighth-graders who scored at or above reading and math proficiency levels on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is administered by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics. Proficiency levels in both subjects are shown for both 2009 and 2011, with reading scores in the first two columns and math scores in the next two.

2009 2011 2009 2011
Jurisdictions at or above proficient in reading at or above proficient in reading at or above proficient in math at or above proficient in math
National public 30 32 33 34
Alabama 24 26 20 20
Alaska 27 31 33 35
Arizona 27 28 29 31
Arkansas 27 28 27 29
California 22 24 23 25
Colorado 32 40 40 43
Connecticut 43 45 40 38
Delaware 31 33 32 32
Dist. of Columbia 14 16 11                                17
Florida 32 30 29 28
Georgia 27 28 27 28
Hawaii 22 26 25 30
Idaho 33 34 38 37
Illinois 33 34 33 33
Indiana 32 32 36 34
Iowa 32 33 34 34
Kansas 33 35 39 41
Kentucky 33 36 27 31
Louisiana 20 22 20 22
Maine 35 39 35 39
Maryland 36 40 40 40
Massachusetts 43 46 52 51
Michigan 31 32 31 31
Minnesota 38 39 47 48

>>MISSISSIPPI 19 21 15 19
Missouri 34 35 35 32
Montana 38 42 44 46
Nebraska 35 35 35 33
Nevada 22 26 25 29
New Hampshire 39 40 43 44
New Jersey 42 45 44 47
New Mexico 22 22 20 24
New York 33 35 34 30
North Carolina 29 31 36 37
North Dakota 34 34 43 43
Ohio 37 37 36 39
Oklahoma 26 27 24 27
Oregon 33 33 37 33
Pennsylvania 40 38 40 39
Rhode Island 28 33 28 34
South Carolina 24 27 30 32
South Dakota 37 35 42 42
Tennessee 28 27 25 24
Texas 27 27 36 40
Utah 33 35 35 35
Vermont 41 44 43 46
Virginia 32 36 36 40
Washington 36 37 39 40
West Virginia 22 24 19 21
Wisconsin 34 35 39 41
Wyoming 34 38 35 37
DoDEA 39 39 36 37

Despite news of Iris, Apple’s iPhone 4S still a coup for C Spire

October 21st, 2011 1 comment

Boy just when you thought you had things figured out, a girl named Iris kicks you in the teeth,

With everyone in Mississippi and beyond jumping up and down about Apple’s new iPhone 4S now being a part of the C Spire stable, you would think nothing could keep folks from smiling.

Then along came Iris. One of the cool things about the iPhone 4S was Siri. That’s  the natural languages understanding app with the cool woman’s name and voice that answers your questions and is supposed to be the advantage that the iPhone 4S has, not only over other models of the iPhone, but every other mobile device on the planet.

But according to a recent report, a programmer spent just eight hours creating a similar app for the Android phone. Oh, and he named her Iris.

But that doesn’t mean Ridgeland-based C Spire’s announcement this week that the country’s eighth-largest phone company will start selling the iPhone 4S in a few weeks isn’t big news. It’s still a huge deal, and it still gives it a bigger edge over its major competitors in Mississippi — AT&T and Verizon. However, what it does do is make you realize the difference in the technology world between good and great isn’t very far apart.

Having said that, Apple still developed the technology first and delivered it first with the iPhone 4S.

And that means Apple is still the king of the mountain, because even more important a tech guy that can roll out a look-alike app in eight hours, is someone at the top of the organization with vision.

That’s what the Android makers are missing.

At the end of the day, Android is still playing catch-up to the iPhone 4S.

In a week when the little phone company from Mississippi got the attention of the nation’s tech business watchers, C Spire comes out on top, having shown its own unique vision for the future.

Parlor Market releases statement about the death of Noone

October 14th, 2011 Comments off

In the wake of the news that Craig Noone, the chef and owner of Parlor Market on Capitol Street, was killed in a car accident around 1 a.m. Friday at the intersection of Capitol and West streets, officials with the business have released a statement and referred all questions to Michael Rejeban.

Parlor Market chef and owner Craig Noone, who was killed in an automobile accident early Friday morning in Jackson.

See Clay Chandler’s Magnolia Marketplace about Noone from early Friday.

The statement reads:

Statement on the Passing of Jackson Restaurateur Craig Noone

Craig Noone, chef and owner of Parlor Market Restaurant in Downtown Jackson, passed away on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011. He was 32 years old.

Craig was foremost a very special person and friend, and an extremely talented chef. He had the courage to pursue his dream of opening a restaurant in the heart of Downtown Jackson. Even more, he was an incredibly giving person and touched countless lives with his generosity. He brought great happiness and joy to his family and friends and will be missed by many.

Through Craig’s efforts, Parlor Market, which opened in Sept. 2010, has become one of Mississippi’s premier restaurants. He was a true visionary who saw potential where others didn’t and understood that relationships are the key to the success of any business.

A Jackson native, Craig had a deep love of the city and especially Downtown, and took a keen interest in helping to ensure its revitalization. But most important, Craig was a true friend to all who knew him. While tragic, Craig’s death serves as a testament to the meaning of true friendship, drive, desire and love for those we know.

Parlor Market will be closed through the weekend. Funeral arrangements are pending.

••• Check back later for more information

Crowds storm Ridgeland Apple store for new iPhone 4S; still plenty available

October 14th, 2011 Comments off

The Ridgeland Apple store began selling the new iPhone 4S this morning as people began lining up to get the new gadget late last night.

Arris K shows off the new iPhone 4S at the Apple store in Ridgeland Friday morning.

The iPhone 4S is the latest in the company’s line of “Jesus Phones,” which includes many under-the-hood improvements.

Apple has been on the mind on many recently, despite of the new iPhone, because of Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, who died last week following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

In many places, Apple fans created makeshift memorials to Jobs that included flowers, photos, iPad boxes and apples (as in the fruit)

The iPhone 4S initially was panned by critics, who said it was more of a facelift to the iPhone 4 than a new product. The phone’s exterior looks the same as its predecessor, but the guts are new. Inside there’s a faster A5 dual-core processor, an improved 8 megapixel camera and a voice assistant named Siri, who will respond to voice commands and answer questions.

Apple CEO Tim Cook helped unveil the 4S last week a day before Jobs’ death.

Pre-orders of the phone started on October 7 and beat expectations. Apple sold 1 million in the first 24 hours via its website and carriers AT&T, Verizon and — for the first time — Sprint. By comparison, Apple reported 600,000 iPhone 4 pre-orders last year in 24 hours, but that included orders placed with overseas carriers.

The iPhone 4S went on sale Friday at all 245 Apple stores in the U.S., in addition to the following countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. The new iPhone will be available in 22 additional countries by the end of October, Apple says.

According to officials at the Ridgeland store, despite the early rush of people buying the new product, there are still plenty of new iPhones left for everyone else who managed not to sleep on the sidewalk outside the store.

Elvis is dead and there’s a reason Glanville isn’t in the NFL

October 3rd, 2011 4 comments

I just got an email that said former NFL head coach Jerry Glanville is coming to Jackson Wednesday to meet with city officials and business leaders to discuss the potential for a Jackson-based United Football League expansion team to participate in the 2012 season.

Former NFL coach Jerry Glanville wants to bring a half-baked pro football franchise football to Mississippi

When Glanville was in the NFL, he dressed in black and left tickets at will call for Elvis. There’s no doubt he will make some reference to Elvis while he is in town.

Folks in Mississippi need to remind Glanville that Elvis is dead and so is his football career. He was a terrible coach then, and Mississippi doesn’t need him coming to try and suck dry the local businesses he would try to con into believing he will be bringing big-time football to Mississippi.

Glanville should be told that Friday night high school football is bigger than any product he may want to bring to town.

Businesses in Mississippi should stay away from the blood-sucking tactics of this minor league sports league with characters like Glanville, who is trying to hang onto a career that wasn’t very good to begin with.

We should know better.

Since the Halloween season is upon us, Glanville and his monsters should be reminded that unaffiliated minor league sports don’t work in Mississippi, ever.

To take from an editorial in the Mississippi Business Journal a few weeks ago that Coach Glanville should read, here is a partial list of the minor league corpses left throughout the towns and cities of Mississippi.

Here is a partial list of the carcuses from the last 15 years:
Minor league hockey has come and gone — twice — in Tupelo.
Minor league hockey has come and gone — twice — in Biloxi.
Minor league hockey has come and gone in Jackson.
Minor league hockey has come and gone in Southaven.
Minor league football has come and gone — twice— in Tupelo.
Minor league baseball has come and gone in Tupelo (twice), Greenville, Meridian (twice), Booneville, Jackson (twice), Hattiesburg.
Minor league basketball has come and gone in Jackson, Tupelo, Greenville, Southaven, Hattiesburg, Biloxi and Meridian.
There is not one minor league sports team open for business today in Mississippi, except for the Mississippi Braves, which is a Double-A affiliate of the MLB Atlanta Braves.
But, Mississippians have been ready to jump at the chance that minor league baseball could harness energy and spending in their communities. The problem is almost all were dealing with independent leagues and mostly questionable business folks, who promised the stars and spun a good yarn, but, in most cases, never produced any kind of substantial business plan.

Coach Glanville, there will be no resurrection of Elvis in Mississippi.

You might want to try Kalamazoo.

The release that was sent out early Monday stated,

This week on Wednesday, October 5, former NFL head coach Jerry Glanville will visit Jackson, Mississippi, to meet with city officials and business leaders to discuss the potential for a Jackson-based United Football League expansion team to participate in the 2012 season.

Coach Glanville, who was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons (1986-1989) and Houston Oilers (1990-1993) performs an advisory role with the United Football League and is leading the league’s expansion initiative.

He will visit Jackson, MS, Salt Lake City, UT, and Chattanooga, TN, in the coming weeks to explore interest in those cities welcoming a UFL expansion team for the 2012 season. The ownership of the new team that joins the Las Vegas Locomotives, Omaha Nighthawks, Sacramento Mountain Lions and Virginia Destroyers in the UFL will have the opportunity to appoint Jerry Glanville as its head coach.

Coach Glanville is available for media interviews on Wednesday afternoon and also by phone. Please contact me if you are interested in talking to Jerry and I will look for an opening in his schedule, which is being finalized.

Coach will travel to Jackson from Sacramento, where he called the Saturday night game between the hometown Mountain Lions and Virginia Destroyers in front of 17,612 fans.

Please let me know if you require more information on the UFL including photos, logos and game footage. There is also information at www.UFL-Football.com.

About The United Football League: The UFL provides high-quality professional football during a traditional fall season while embracing innovation and fan interaction. The UFL serves its local communities with pride and dedication, and aims to provide every fan with an exciting and memorable game experience. The inaugural 2009 champion Las Vegas Locos won a second championship in 2010, lifting the William Hambrecht Trophy with a 23-20 win over the Florida Tuskers. The 2011 season kicked off on September 15 and features the Locos, Omaha Nighthawks, Sacramento Mountain Lions and Virginia Destroyers. The UFL is led by Commissioner Michael Huyghue and is funded by a consortium of private investors. For season tickets, more information and to interact with passionate football fans, please visit www.UFL-Football.com.