Category Archives: Uncategorized

Macon Trailer Manufacturer Celebrates Four Decades of Quality Craftsmanship

MACON, MS – Courtesy of the Macon Beacon and Scott Boyd

Farmer Mike Banks got his start in the early 80’s when he made an investment in soybeans that paid off in a big way. He decided that he “wanted to take that money and start something that would last.” He took the profit and started up a business building utility trailers, cattle trailers, and the like to sell to farmers in the area, always looking to fill their needs with a solid, reliable product; he calls it “Trailboss Trailers, Inc.” He started small: “I didn’t have a fork lift, so I couldn’t build anything using parts that my tractor and forks wouldn’t pick up,” he went on to say.

Eventually, Banks wanted to expand his business, so he got a small loan from his friend and fellow farmer Errol Wedel to get some advertising done. It worked well enough that he was able to repay the loan within a year. Banks also gives credit to other members of the community that have helped his business thrive and expand: “So, I can’t say I did it all by myself,” Banks said. “There have been many people who have helped and supported me through the years, like Bob Boeckner who started working for me when I was in the old shop, about 38 years ago,” he said. Boeckner is now the manager of Trailboss’s purchasing department.

In the intervening years, the business has shifted to primarily making larger trailer units for bigger jobs, up to and including ones used by Boeing; they could not find a trailer that suited their need, so he invented one. The business has now been around for forty years and is going strong. He even built a cafeteria for his workers in the late 1990s to make sure they were well-fed, and that business now serves all sorts of hungry customers from far and wide as the Wagon Wheel Restaurant.

The Mayor of Macon, Buz McGuire expressed his admiration for Banks: “He’s not only the one behind one of our major industries, he also does much to support the community – many times in ways that most people don’t even know about. . . He saw a need for a restaurant and it has become such a valuable part of this community.”

“As a business owner, I feel I have a responsibility to contribute as much as I can to our community,” Banks said. “Noxubee County has been good to me and I enjoy giving back.”

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Trailboss Trailers, Inc.

The Wagon Wheel

The Macon Beacon

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City Gear Coming to Columbus Place

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch and Mary Pollitz

Mary Pollitz is back on the business beat at the Dispatch! Big thanks to her and the paper for the info.

Columbus Place (née Leigh Mall) is continuing to undergo their major renovations, and among those changes is a new shop! City Gear, a store that sells items such as streetwear and big-name shoes, etc., will be moving into the old JC Penney slot. Hibbet Sports, which owns CG, will be moving their own store from its current location within the mall to another outward-facing location in the same building. Hibbett VP Jeff Gray said, “These moves will allow us to bring a newly remodeled Hibbett location as well as our City Gear brand to the market. . . We feel that with easier access and better visibility with the outside entrances, we can better serve the Columbus market.”

Also, Bath and Body Works is moving to its own new location at 1496 Old Aberdeen Way, the former Bedzzz Express.

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Helping People to Make a New Life for Themselves

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch and Slim Smith

Sharon Jones, originally of Queens, NY, moved to Columbus long ago to settle down and start a family. Fast forward many years of hard work later, and she founded Paroled2Pride, an organization that has helped hundreds of former inmates to turn their lives around and rejoin the workforce. They became an official 501(c)(3) organization in 2007. Recently, Jones was among those honored with a “Earnest Brown Good Change Award” for her efforts and those of her largely-volunteer staff by Columbus Major Keith Gaskin. P2P carefully screens applicants, matching them up with jobs.

image: Sharon Jones is presented the Ernest Brown Good Change Award by Columbus Mayor Keith Gaskin at City Hall – EmmaMcRae – Dispatch Staff

Her first success story came before she former P2P. It involved a man who “was getting out of prison and, like so many people, was having a hard time finding a job,” Jones said. “God laid it on my heart to help him get a job at the hotel I was working at. I told my husband and he said, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t risk it.’ My in-laws told me the same thing. I called my mom and told her, ‘I can’t get rid of the feeling that I should hire him. God keeps telling me that.’ She told me to obey God and always remember my brother, how hard it was for him to get employed.” She convinced her boss to give him a chance – “He worked 11pm to 7am, for 14 years and never missed a day,” Jones said. “The program evolved from there.” She has been working with Best Western ever since to make jobs available to these folks.

“It’s so humbling after the loss of my brother and my mom,” she went on to say. “They are the driving force behind what I do through Jesus. God has called me to this work and I’m grateful.”

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TVA Seeks Public Comment on New Power Plant

CALEDONIA, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch and Grant McLaughlin

Tennessee Valley Authority is in the process of seeking public comments on a two-year project to build a supplemental 500-megawatt gas-powered turbine energy plant near Caledonia. The plant is expected to employ as many as thirty people and is designed to kick in in times of high power usage and in weather conditions that reduce the output of other power plants nearby below acceptable levels.

“More capacity (on the grid) is a great thing,” GT Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said. “Lowndes County is home to some of TVA’s biggest customers. (More power generation) being closer to the user of it will be a good thing.”

Julia Wise, a senior communications consultant for TVA, said, “We receive those comments, then we can start the environmental review process, and we will then publish a draft environmental review, and then a final environmental review. That feedback and review helps determine whether or not that project moves forward.”

The public feedback period is already open, and will last until Jan. 19. She went on to say that the TVA plans to have an in-person open house on Jan. 8 at the Caledonia Community Center at 205 S. St. from 5 to 7 p.m. for county residents to hear about the project and submit more feedback. Comments can be submitted via the TVA website ( or emailed to [email protected].

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Avoid the Need to Get B.A.I.L.ed Out – Talk to an Attorney About Your Business

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch and Grant McLaughlin

Earlier this year, the Greater Starkville Development Partnership ran its first set of four “B.A.I.L.” series where local experts could speak to business owners about important accounting, liability, and other important “behind-the-scenes” concerns regarding their businesses. Amanda Adkins, owner of Shelter Insurance, was one of the attendees eager to expand her knowledge: “I wanted to make sure that from an agency perspective that I have everything I need legal-wise with bringing on staff or making sure I’m covered in that area,” Adkins said.

The panel of lawyers spoke at the fourth BAIL series panel, focusing on legal advice for businesses
Grant McLaughlin – Dispatch Staff

Panelists for the legal session were: Starkville-based attorneys Rob Roberson and Steven Adams, and Brandon Jolly with the Mississippi State University general counsel’s office. They discussed things like setting up legal entities, how to plan for uncertain futures and how to protect consumer data. They emphasized the importance of setting up an LLC or other form of business entity in order to keep entrepreneurs’ personal and legal liability separate: “What that does is give you an insurance policy, basically,” Roberson said. “If you are sued, you’re sued in the context of the business…My dad used to take his business and pay all of his bills with the money from it. Well, here is the problem with that: you have no protection because you’re treating your business like it’s personal income.”They also spoke on the critical importance of having everything in writing, whether you’re planning to enter a contract with a vendor or client or drawing up a purchase agreement for the purchase of another business: “You’re not just buying the asset, sometimes you’re buying the liabilities that come along with it and if there’s debt associated with it, you may be assuming without realizing it,” Jolly said. “It’s good to have that all spelled out when you go to buy.” Moreover, they said that it’s important to have an attorney go over any such documents before you sign them. they also addressed cyber-security, especially when dealing with things like people’s social security numbers, financial data, etc.

“I have a digital business and you don’t necessarily know because everything is intangible,” attendee Brittany Goss, owner of online marketing agency Bootstraps and Butterflies said. “So, knowing how to pass that down legally and the responsibilities that come with that has been beneficial.”

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New Amazon Facility Coming to Golden Triangle

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the GTR LINK

A new facility that Amazon will be using for “last mile” delivery services will soon be coming to the NorthStar Industrial Park near Starkville. The 50,000-square-foot facility is expected to bring 90 new jobs to the area once it is up and running. The project was the result of a collaborative effort among Agracel, The LINK, and the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority.

Lynn Spruill stated that “As OCEDA president and as the Mayor of Starkville, I couldn’t be more excited to have the partnership with the LINK result in a project that brings jobs and activity to NorthStar Park. . . It is especially exciting to have an international, high profile company like Amazon show their belief in the benefits of having a new and substantial presence in Starkville. I have always believed that our partnership with Oktibbeha County and OCEDA would yield long-term economic development to our community and the region. When we partner we create the best chances for our mutual success.”

Buildout on the facility is expected to begin within the next few weeks and continue throughout next year.

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Local Youth Putting His Training to Good Use

Michael Ford – courtesy photo (CMSD)

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Columbus Municipal School District

MTC student Michael Ford has been working hard putting his schooling and training to good use at Columbus Nissan, where he works as an Automotive Service Tech in order to get some hands-on training for his future career. Having completed a two-year training program at McKellar Technology Center, he also earned his ASE certification.

Ford is learning more than just how to fix up cars, but also how to deal with customers out there in the real world; both skills that will serve him well for a long time!

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Future of Leigh Mall Looking Bright

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch and Slim Smith

Having been purchased by the Georgia-based Hull Group in 2019, Leigh Mall has been undergoing extensive renovation since that time in order to transform it into a primarily outward-facing shopping center, which has been dubbed “Columbus Place.” They are on pace to complete the external facade renovations before the end of the year, after which, new businesses will be able to begin moving in. They are also just about ready to begin extensive work on redoing the parking lot; work on that may begin as soon as the week after Thanksgiving if all goes well. Hull has accepted some tax incentives from the City as an incentive for their massive investment in the site.

The former Leigh Mall, now Columbus Place at 1404 Old Aberdeen Road – Grant McLaughlin, The Dispatch

Hull Property Group VP of Government Relations John Mulherin says that they “have been approached by several companies, and our leasing team is working feverishly on the new leases.” 13 new outward-facing spaces and some interior ones are being worked on, allowing for a total of 37 spaces for businesses to occupy, both inside and out.

“The Hull Group has been great to work with,” Mayor Keith Gaskin said. “I stay in contact with them about the mall, and we are excited about the changes that are already happening there and look forward to future retail and stores that will be coming our way.”

Please note that the mall is still open for business in the meantime.

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Caledonia Couple Working Hard as New Owners at Fork N Road

CALEDONIA, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch and Slim Smith

Triston and Melanie Gardner, both Caledonia natives, had been working at Fork n Road Deer Processing as seasonal labor for a number of years, learning the craft; as of September 1st, they took over the business from the retiring owners, Jack and Nancy Lamour. Melanie also works full-time as an ultrasound technician.

They credit the Lamours for their endless help and support with teaching them over the years, with the changeover, and with running the business itself: “We definitely couldn’t do this if they weren’t here to show us the ropes,” Triston said. “I worked with Mr. Jack last year on some of the behind-the-scenes things, ordering supplies and what you do to get ready for the next day. Melanie and I both understood a lot about the production side of things since we have both been doing that for years. Jack and Nancy have definitely taken us under their wings.”

“I’d like to find something that can make it a more year-round business, since this is what I want to be my career,” Triston said. “It’s been fun, but it’s been a little intimidating, too,” he went on to say. “But mainly, we’re enjoying it.”

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The Golden Triangle Region – A Great Place to Do Business!

LOWNDES AND NOXUBEE COUNTIES, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch and Grant McLaughlin

Construction continues apace at the 2,100-acre Aluminum Dynamics site on Charleigh D Ford Jr Drive – credit – GTR LINK

Four of the state’s biggest economic development projects from the last several years found that our area was the best place for them to do business: Aluminum Dynamics, Huber Engineered Woods, PACCAR, and Steel Dynamics all have initiated or expanded their business in the region (Huber – Noxubee County; others – Lowndes County). Their faith in the area’s ability to support them with infrastructure and good workers is paying great dividends – for the companies themselves, for the economy, and for local job-seekers. In total, these four companies represent a total investment of over three billion dollars and hundreds of jobs.

The MDA says that there have been 28 announced projects valued at $60 million or greater each since 2018. MDA Executive Director Laura Hipp said that our state is very attractive to industry because “[W]e have one of the lowest costs of doing business in the nation, a quality of life that is truly hard to beat, a diverse mix of industries, a capable workforce and a strategic location that is ideal for companies that prioritize speed to market.”

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