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Phil Bryant does it again

August 3rd, 2011 Comments off

In a video interview with the Mississippi Business Journal, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, whom we endorsed for governor, said he would like to see a new nuclear power plant at the Grand Gulf site in Mississippi.
Really?
Well, I would love to see a NASCAR track built in Mississippi, but I don’t have a plan in place to make that happen, and even if I did, it would take 20 or 30 years to get it done.
Oh, that was Phil that said he wanted a NASCAR track in Mississippi but offered no specifics on how to get it done?
Sorry.
Hey, I’ve got a great idea.
Since Monsanto is all about changing the natural order of seeds to make money, maybe the world’s largest loan shark would manipulate a seed so that it only produces money. Then, Mississippi could just grow money and not worry about anything else.
Oh yeah, Monsanto already did that.
It’s called the corn plant.

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When all is said and done, ‘Snarky’ Planet Money got it right

July 14th, 2011 Comments off

Adam Davidson, an NPR reporter on “Planet Money,” has received a pile of criticism for his look into the economic development industry, in which he finally concluded, “They are not creating jobs. They are just moving jobs around.”
From there, everyone became defensive and lost perspective as the story received a rebuttal by International Economic Development Council president Jeffrey A. Finkle and pointed criticism by NPR.
“This American Life” senior producer Julie Snyder and Davidson attended a meeting of the International Economic Developers Council in San Diego and came away saying, “Now we have this race to bottom: Who can cut back government services the most? Who can eliminate the most regulation?”
In his rebuttal, Finkle said, “I feel even more hurt by the piece as I rolled out the red carpet for you guys. It is as if I held a dinner party, invited you as guests, told everyone how important you were and then had you insult all of my guests.”
Ira Glass, the show’s host and one of its editors, lamented that the tone in the report had gotten out of hand and “that the tone was a bit snarky.”
But was the report accurate?
It is not the job of a reporter to make people feel warm and fuzzy; it is to report accurately with insight and perspective.
In this case, Davidson and Snyder lost their audience with a “snarky” tone, but when you dig beneath the surface, they had a point.
It did a great job discussing the “numbers” gaming aspects, short-term focus, and special interests of economic development organizations.
One urban planner commented that over years in the business, she is “frankly weary of boosterism.”
Many ED organizations out there are doing a fine job and in some forms in a tough economy, but the planner pointed out the she has experienced, “first hand the spin and lack of substance to many of the claims made in the field. I have been astonished at reports to the community claiming this or that ‘win.’ ”
My thought is there was a point made in the story, even if it was lost in the hurt feelings of those involved.
But the overwhelming point, which no one rebutted, was the conclusion of the report where Davidson noted, “education is the key and we are cutting off our legs by de-funding it from K to college.”
Sound like any place you know?

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

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Homebuilders endorse Reeves for Lt. Governor

July 13th, 2011 1 comment

The Home Builders Association of Jackson has endorsed Tate Reeves’ candidacy for Lt. Governor. In an e-mail statement, President Wade Quin is credited with noting Reeve’s “experience as a conservative money manager” and his success “in protecting taxpayers as Mississippi’s State Treasurer.”

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Dupree charges, takes lead in MBJ Poll

July 13th, 2011 1 comment

You can decide whether it has anything to do with Congressman Bennie Thompson giving his endorsement yesterday, but Hatiesburg mayor Johnny Dupree has charged ahead of Clarksdale businessman Bill Luckett in the Mississippi Business Journal poll, which asks “Who will be the Democratic nominee for governor?” … Click here to see the results

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Luckett leads MBJ reader poll

July 12th, 2011 Comments off

Despite Johnny Dupree receiving an endorsement today from Congressman Bennie Thompson, Clarksdale businessman Bill Luckett leads a MBJ reader poll asking who will be the Democratic nominee for governor. Click here to see the results and vote.

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Endorsements are a lot like pickled cucumbers

July 8th, 2011 Comments off

My wife understands that my brain works differently than most people’s. It could be the reason she loves me, or she could just be taking pity on me.
Either way, she keeps me around despite the random questions and statements I have and make.
Lately, the questions have been more frequent. She just rolls her eyes and keeps on moving.
Like last weekend. I was watching the Red Sox play on TV on July 4. I was horrified at the god-awful ugly hats my team was wearing that captured the American flag inside the “B” on the hat. I get it. It’s Independence Day. It’s patriotic, I guess. It’s an opportunity for Major League Baseball to make more money on the sales of the alternative hat. It’s still ugly.
But why were the Toronto Blue Jays wearing a similar-style hat? Toronto is still in Canada, right?
Will American teams wear ugly hats with a maple leaf imbedded in the logo for the Canadian independence day? When is Canadian independence day?
Another of my questions is why is a pickle named a pickle? I mean, it’s a pickled cucumber.
We have pickled okra and pickled beats and pickled eggs and even pickled pigs feet. So, what’s up with pickles. Was it the first thing ever pickled?
This may all seem silly, but all of this random thinking fits well in an election year.
Everyone has been, particularly in the governor and lieutenant governor’s race, endorsed by someone.
Both Dave Dennis and Phil Bryant have been endorsed by The Tea Party, which is odd.
A press release from the Dennis camp didn’t make it much clearer … The “Official TEA Party of Mississippi” (although others claim to be THE statewide TEA group) has endorsed Bryant. The Gulf Coast 912 Project and Alcorn County TEA Party Patriots have endorsed Dennis.
Uh, OK.
When the NRA endorsed Bryant, Dennis followed up by saying he had been a member of the NRA for 20 years. Then he ripped the endorsement, calling it “politics.”
Uh, yeah.
Bryant gets the nod from “several law enforcement” groups.
Dennis gets the nod from the Madison County Journal newspaper.
Former Sen. Trent Lott endorsed Billy Hewes for lieutenant governor while Tate Reeves has endorsements from just about everyone else.
My favorite though, came on June 27 when Bryant’s camp announced it had received the endorsement from “Bully Bloc.”
The Bully Bloc, according to the press release, is a non-partisan political action committee, not affiliated with Mississippi State University.
So, let me get this straight.
An endorsement was given from an organization whose main claim to fame is that it is not affiliated with Mississippi State University.
Why even point it out?
I would rather contemplate the origins of the pickle.
It makes more sense.

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

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Groupon is not as sweet as you might think it is

June 14th, 2011 Comments off
When the national deal-of-the-day website Groupon arrived in Mississippi back in the fall, it came with great fanfare.
Across the nation, the three-year-old coupon company has been all the hype. It is the largest of its competitors and claims it distributes online coupons from merchants in 500 markets and 44 countries.
However, as far as many small business owners are concerned, some of the shine has faded from the fad.
Media swarmed Nandy’s Candy in Jackson when it became the first Mississippi business to offer coupons from the meteoric company.
TV types reported live from the historic candy store’s parking lot at 5:30 in the morning that first day the initial deals were to be offered.
Newspapers described the excitement of businesses and consumers had as the national phenomenon finally reached Mississippi.
Groupon — like so many other happenings, including fashion trends and even the great recession — took a while to matriculate to these parts.
The consumers in these parts are still thrilled with the idea of getting great stuff for less money.
But Nancy King, owner of Nandy’s for more than 30 years, doesn’t give an overwhelming endorsement of Groupon.
“We got a lot of exposure in the media because we were the first,” she said. “It brought some more customers in … but I don’t know if I would do it again.”
King’s eyes are wide open to the process.
“Let’s get this straight, Groupon is making a kazillion dollars. They aren’t about me. They are about making money.”
Groupon has made so much money that Facebook and Google want a piece of the action and have launched similar products.
In fact, the initial public offering filing by Groupon, has drawn comparisons to Google.
Some have estimated Groupon’s potential worth at $20 billion to $30 billion. Google was $27 billion at the time of its 2004 IPO.
But buyer beware. Reports — like the story of the café owner in Portland who lost $8,000 using Groupon — are all over the Web.
And there are many skeptics, including Bloomberg’s James Temple, who recently wrote, “Strip away all the hope and hype surrounding Groupon and you’re left with this: It’s a coupon company. Its major innovation was to distribute them through e-mail instead of the Sunday paper.”
Then there’s business analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, who recently wrote a column for Forbes on the subject.
“This IPO game isn’t about finding value, it’s about finding a greater fool who who actually believes the valuation is true. Trust me, you will be the fool. There will be plenty more IPOs coming up of companies with greater profitability and higher barriers to entry (e.g. social networks with hundreds of millions of followers). Those will be wiser investments.”
And Nancy King at Nandy’s Candy is no fool.
“Groupon makes a fortune (and for a small business owner) it is a good tool, but you have to be cautious,” she said.
A less experienced business owner could be overwhelmed with the process and lose a lot of money, King warned.
But she also makes the point that Groupon ain’t from around here and doesn’t have a clue about the Mississippi market.
Groupon associates insisted on King following a cookie-cutter model that would have had her hiring more people and spending more money because of the flood of business the company said would walk through the door.
“But they don’t know anything about us,” she said.
“We live in a state with two-and-a-half million people. This thing may work great in Atlanta and Dallas and New York and Chicago, but that’s not this market.”
There are lots of other options as far as King is concerned.
“Quite honestly, I still believe in the newspaper,” she said. “I like holding it in my hands; I like to see the pages turn.”
She said advertising in more traditional ways is still working for Nandy’s Candy.
And while she won’t say that she won’t ever use Groupon again, King believes there are a lot of unknowns with which to be concerned.
Small business, which makes up the vast majority of the American economy, by King’s and so many others’ estimates, isn’t particularly made to cash in on Groupon.
But Groupon is absolutely going to try to cash in on America’s small business owners.
Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018