Archive for November, 2012

Jackson State to unveil new logo, website Saturday

November 9th, 2012 No comments

Jackson State University will start the process of rebranding itself tomorrow during halftime of the Tigers’ game against Alabama A&M at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The school will unveil its new logo, and launch its new website. Each is the result of a research campaign the school used a marketing firm to conduct the past several months. The firm surveyed JSU faculty, staff, alumni, current and prospective students in and outside of Mississippi to gauge their perception of the school.

“We want to ensure that the logo reflects the quality of the institution and that we are communicating with a unified voice through our branding,” JSU president Dr. Carolyn W. Meyers said in a press release. ”We believe the new brand reflects the university’s long history and tradition, as well as our commitment to learning, technology and innovation.”

Designed by AndiSites Inc., the new website will go live right after the game. It will be launched in phases. Over the next several months, the logo will appear on television, billboards, university buses and vehicles and signs in the Jackson area. Merchandise featuring the new logo will be available in JSU’s campus bookstore next semester.

The practice of rebranding at colleges and universities has been around almost as long as the institutions. For example, Mississippi State University was called Mississippi A&M, then Mississippi State College until 1932, when it became Mississippi State. A more modern example is Belhaven University in Jackson, which was named Belhaven College until just a few years ago.

“In an increasingly competitive environment, we want to position the university for the future,” Meyers said.

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Like its counterparts, Jackson’s Whole foods will carry unique design

November 8th, 2012 No comments

Dirt turned Thursday morning on the Whole Foods Market in Jackson’s Highland Village.

Like the other 400 Whole Foods, the design of Jackson’s store will be unique.

The front of Whole Foods Market in Jackson will face north toward Northside Drive. The store is scheduled to open fall 2013.

“We’ve never built two stores that are alike,” said Omar Gaye, Whole Foods South Region president, just before he joined Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson and half the City Council in jabbing shovels in the ground. “We want to build a store that looks like the community.”

Whole Foods will sit to the east of the existing buildings that make up Highland Village. The store’s east side will run directly alongside and parallel to Old Canton Road. The front of the store will face north toward Northside Drive.

To go with the design, the construction site will also separate Jackson’s store from its counterparts. “Building a store on a parking lot will not be easy,” Gaye said. He added that the site plan went through “100s of different designs” before finding one that fit the space.

The parking lot to the north of the store will remain, and will be reconfigured to add parking spaces to make up at least some of those that will be lost, said Lou Masiello, vice president of development for WS Development. Chestnut Hill, Mass.-based WS acquired a controlling interest in Highland Village last month. The retail development company has Whole Foods stores in some of its Northeastern U.S. properties.

White Construction Co. of Jackson will build the 30,000 square-foot Jackson store, scheduled to open fall of next year. It will be the first Whole Foods in Mississippi.

Aerial view of Whole Foods location in Highland Village – Jackson.

Whole Foods to break ground Thursday

November 6th, 2012 4 comments

Whole Foods Market will break ground Thursday morning on its 30,000 square-foot store in Jackson’s Highland Village, the company said Tuesday.

The groundbreaking ceremony will be held under a tent in Highland Village’s east parking lot. The store will sit between existing buildings at the shopping center and Old Canton Road. It will be the first foray into Mississippi for the grocer specializing in natural and organic food. Overall, the Austin, Texas-based company has 400 stores in 40 states.

A Whole Foods spokesperson told the Mississippi Business Journal in October that the store would open sometime next fall. Company officials originally targeted Thanksgiving 2013 as the opening date, but a spokesperson would not commit to that last month.

This will be the second major event for Highland Village in the past couple weeks. Built in the early 1970s by late businessman Jimmy Fowler, the 220,000 square foot shopping center is now controlled by Massachusetts-based WS Development. Fowler’s family had owned and operated the center since its opening. WS officials promised then that the transaction would not hinder Whole Foods’ arrival.

Whole Foods’ announcement last spring that it was coming to Jackson was the culmination of several months of negotiations with Highland Village, and was met with no small amount of enthusiasm. Two studies done within the past six years – one conducted by Realtors, another by Citigroup – have found that commercial and residential real estate in the area of a Whole Foods experienced a bump in value that ranged from 10 to 20 percent.

Anti-corruption group to make stop in Jackson Tuesday

November 6th, 2012 No comments

Protests of every kind imaginable are common on Election Day, and things won’t be any different in Jackson.

Lawless America, whose website says is intended to root out government and judicial corruption, will be in town somewhere, though the website doesn’t say exactly where or when.

The itinerary (posted here) says members will start the day in Baton Rouge, so it’s likely it will be at least after lunch before they arrive in Mississippi. If the group holds form, whatever protest it has planned will occur near the Capitol or near the Gartin Justice Building, which houses the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Mississippi Court of Appeals.

One of Lawless America’s more ambitious projects is its plans to stretch a ribbon of yellow crime scene tape in front of government buildings across the country. Scenes from each of its protests are being compiled into a movie, too. Again, it’s not clear if the group plans to make its stop in Jackson a part of either project, but it’s a possibility.

The group also maintains a database on officials by state that it considers to be corrupt, or at least less than honest. Mississippi’s list includes leaders from both parties, attorneys and judges. It can be viewed here.

Nash, Taggart predict state and presidential elections

November 5th, 2012 No comments

Political analysts Andy Taggart and Jere Nash did not agree on many things at Monday’s Stennis Capitol Press Corps luncheon.

A victory by Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. against state Rep. Earle Banks was one. Waller and Banks are running for a seat on the Mississippi Supreme Court out of the state’s central district.

Nash, a Democratic campaign consultant, said what’s most caught his attention about the race is the relative lack of involvement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Aside from a few radio spots, the Chamber is staying out of the Banks-Waller race. That duplicates the organization’s approach from 2008, when current supreme court justice Jim Kitchens defeated then-chief justice Jim Smith in what was considered an upset.

That, and the fact that Pres. Barack Obama won the district by 23,000 votes in 2008, is why Nash thinks there is a chance Banks unseats Waller. “It’s unlikely, but it’s possible,” Nash said.

Taggart, a Madison attorney who served as former Gov. Kirk Fordice’s chief of staff, was unconvinced there was much possibility of an upset by Banks, who has been endorsed by the state Democratic party in the nonpartisan race. Taggart cited the Waller family’s history in Democratic politics and Waller’s likeable demeanor as reasons he would be hard to beat.

Taggart would not offer a prediction about the northern district’s supreme court race – one of his sons is involved in Josiah Coleman’s campaign – but Nash said Coleman, an Oxford attorney, would most likely beat Batesville attorney Richard “Flip” Phillips. The two are running to replace retiring justice George Carlson.

Groups not affiliated with Coleman – including one associated with the Mississippi Business and Industry Political Education Committee (BIPEC) – have run ads that accuse Phillips of being under the control of the state’s plaintiffs’ lawyers.

It’s that influx of outside spending that Nash thinks will push Coleman to victory. Coleman has been endorsed by the state GOP; Phillips is being backed by state Democrats.

Nash and Taggart predicted their party’s candidate would win the presidential election. Taggart said Mitt Romney had to win swing states Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. Ohio was not a must-get, but if Romney were to win it, that “would bring down the president’s entire firewall and would turn the election into a landslide for Romney,” Taggart said. Taggart cited poll numbers from independent voters in a number of swing states that showed the group felt the country was headed in the wrong direction. “That’s always good news for a challenger.”

Nash said Obama would win because the president’s campaign has done a better delivering and controlling its message – specifically, not allowing Romney make the election completely about the economy.

“And Romney has gotten only one lucky break, which was the Denver debate,” Nash said, referring to the first debate between the candidates in which Obama himself admitted he was outdone. “The Obama campaign has gotten several lucky breaks — Todd Akin, 47 percent, Hurricane Sandy and Chris Christie.”


Retreat focuses, unleashes upgrades to Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

November 2nd, 2012 No comments

Rick Cleveland has spent a lot of his first six months as executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum compiling a list of upgrades.

That list got prioritized Monday, when Cleveland and most of his 24 board members held a one-day retreat at Luckett Lodge in Brandon.

Phil Hardwick, coordinator of capacity development for Mississippi State’s Stennis Institute of Government, served as moderator/facilitator for the retreat, something he does regularly for nonprofits, business groups and government agencies.

The process of coordinating a goal-oriented, fact-finding retreat always starts with self-evaluation, Hardwick said.

“Basically, we start out with where we are and how we got there,” Hardwick said. “Next is to think about what we do well and what we can do better.”

The answers to those questions, which are formulated after the whole group breaks into smaller groups, are meant to serve as a vision statement for the Hall of Fame, which begins with an incomplete phrase: “I’ll be proud of the Sports Hall of Fame in three years if …”

If the breakout groups serve to fill in the vision statement, the retreat’s overall goal is to set goals. More specifically, it’s to prioritize Cleveland’s list of improvements.

“We took that list and prioritized it,” Hardwick said.

Cleveland said Friday morning that three projects are in the works, funding in hand. Leading off will be refurbishing the Olympic Room’s photos that were back-lit and faded. The redone exhibit will be top-lit, the photos rendered fade-proof and new athletes added that will bring the room current through 2012.

The facility’s entrance will also be rearranged. Clear cases will be stationed right at the front, and will be stocked with memorabilia from that year’s Hall of Fame inductees. The display will rotate every year, as the Hall of Fame adds new members.

“That was the original plan for the entrance, but it’s just gotten away from us,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland’s board also gave him the go-ahead to start upgrading the museum’s interactive kiosks, which are original to the 1996 opening. The new kiosks will have bigger screens, high-definition images, and current content. “They’re the heart and soul of the museum,” Cleveland said.

The fourth project that gained board approval, but doesn’t have funding in place, is a new exhibit that showcases Mississippi’s all-time NFL team. The museum’s original display was broken several years ago. Cleveland said he has started the process of rounding up corporate sponsorships that will pay for a large portion of the exhibit’s cost.

“If I can’t sell Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Archie Manning and Brett Favre in Mississippi, I’m in the wrong business,” he said.