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Making of the Mississippi 100

Back in the early 1990s in an effort to improve the Mississippi 100 ranking of the state’s most successful private companies, a Mississippi Business Journal staffer went to the Eudora Welty Library in Jackson looking for research material.

When asked for a good resource of privately held companies in the state, the librarian smiled broadly and said, “Oh, I have just what you need.” He then handed the researcher the MBJ’s “Book of List,” which includes the Mississippi 100 list.

When the MBJ staffer explained that was the list he was trying to compile and needed other resources, the librarian’s smile faded. He shrugged and said, “Well, that’s the only ranking of private companies in Mississippi that I know of.”

All of the MBJ’s lists are unique, but none more so than the Mississippi 100. The list, which the MBJ has produced annually since 1989, remains the only definitive ranking of the 100 most-successful privately held businesses in the Magnolia State.

“We obviously take great pride in the Mississippi 100,” said Ross Reily, MBJ editor. “Because it is the only game in town, we are constantly tweaking the criteria and looking at other ways to make the list as informative and accurate as possible. That requires a lot of hard work.”

Indeed, compiling the Mississippi 100 is a yearlong process. As soon as the latest list is produced, researcher Stephen McDill, supported by input from the MBJ staff, immediately begins working on next year’s version.

Because there is no other ranking of its kind, the biggest challenge each year is finding all of the prospects for the list. The MBJ utilizes numerous resources to help wade through the thousands of privately held companies in Mississippi to identify the top 100 revenue-producers.

Once those prospects are identified, the MBJ contacts each company to verify the information is current and accurate.

Hundreds of emails and phone calls later, the Mississippi 100 is born.

The release of the list is highly anticipated each year, particularly among the prospective private companies. Those businesses that make the ranking routinely tout their inclusion in press releases, marketing materials and on their websites.

While many can claim credit for helping make the Mississippi 100 the go-to ranking of private companies in the state, McDill said the companies themselves are a large reason for the list’s success.

“No lists are easy to compile, but the Mississippi 100 is a special challenge,” he said. “It takes a village — and then some — to produce.

“I want to give a special thanks to the companies that participate each year in the Mississippi 100. Lists are only as good as the information they provide. Without responses from prospective companies, the Mississippi 100 would not be the definitive list it has become. It doesn’t take long to complete the survey, but I really appreciate those companies that take time out to work with on us on the Mississippi 100. We couldn’t do it without them.”

The MBJ is already working on next year’s Mississippi 100. For more information, including criteria and how to submit data for inclusion on the list, contact McDill at (601) 364-1041, or via email at stephen.mcdill@msbusiness.com.

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