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Magnolia on the Move: May 1, 2023

Magnolia on the Move: May 1, 2023

By: Frank Corder - May 1, 2023

Spotlighting the people and businesses in Mississippi making headlines in their communities and across their industry.

The people of Mississippi are what make the Magnolia State great, and the businesses – from the smallest home-based startup to the largest industry – provide the means for Mississippians to live, support their families, and better their communities.

As such, Magnolia Tribune spotlights the workers across Mississippi who are making moves in their professions and impacting their communities as well as celebrates the businesses and industries that are investing in our state and our people.

Ole Miss School of Business honors Cirlot founder

The University of Mississippi School of Business Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship named Liza Cirlot Looser, founder and CEO of The Cirlot Agency, as the 2023 Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year.

Each year, the business school selects one business or entrepreneur to recognize as the Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year, an award named after Jan and Lawrence Farrington for their entrepreneurial spirit and their love for helping young people to start businesses.

“Liza has been instrumental in the growth of the University of Mississippi Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) over the last several years both as a past chairman and present member of their advisory board,” said Clay Dibrell, Co-Director of the University of Mississippi School of Business Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “This award is in recognition of not only what she has done with her own highly successful startup and now industry leader in The Cirlot Agency, but also for her leadership efforts with our Ole Miss student entrepreneurs, Mississippi family businesses and for the state of Mississippi’s business community. She is an inspiration to us all.”

The University of Mississippi School of Business Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship named Liza Cirlot Looser, founder and CEO of The Cirlot Agency, as the 2023 Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year.

Cirlot Looser established The Cirlot Agency in 1984 with a $78 tax return check. Cirlot Looser has spent her career encouraging and supporting the spirit of entrepreneurship, particularly investing in student success at Ole Miss and the success of Mississippi family-owned businesses.

“It has always been about inspiring leaders, whether they are just beginning their career or building something that improves the generational quality of life for individual families and the lives of those they influence,” said Cirlot Looser. “The Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year embodies the spirit of CIE and being selected as the 2023 recipient is a proud and meaningful moment in my career.”

Clemens joins Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission

Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission (HCPHC) recently announced the newest addition to their team: Geoff Clemens, in the position of Deputy Director.

Geoffrey Clemens

“Hancock County is grateful an experienced and dedicated leader like Geoff would join our team. Geoff’s experience managing staff, projects in Hancock County over the last twenty years and knowledge of our infrastructure at Port Bienville, Stennis Space Center and Stennis International Airport will only assist HCPHC as we move forward with an aggressive capital improvement plan and period of growth over the next decade,” said Blaine LaFontaine, CEO of HCPHC.

Clemens will work closely with finance, operations, and project management teams as part of the critical port and airport operations, as well as the many great capital improvement projects at HCPHC.

Geoffrey Clemens has served Compton Engineering as the President and CEO since January 2019. In this role, he conducted oversight of all company operations, including all business and financial operations, HR, business development, planning, public relations, and production. In this capacity, he has served in various roles, such as the City of Pascagoula Engineer, the development of Hancock County Engineer, Projects Engineer for Hancock County, and supported project funding with various state and federal grant programs, among other responsibilities.

Prior to serving as CEO, Mr. Clemens was the President of Compton Engineering for fourteen years. Internal company responsibilities included oversight of company operations including Pascagoula, Biloxi, and Bay St. Louis office locations, oversight and performance of business development, client relations, management of financial operations, oversight and development of contracts.

Gulfport-Biloxi Airport marks opening of three new restaurants

The Grand Opening of Chandeleur Island Brewing Company, Sonic and Coffee Connection was held April 26 at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.

The new food and beverage offerings bring a welcome mix of local cuisine, craft beer and coffee as well as nationally recognized fast-food favorites. 

Airport Executive Director Clay Williams said they wanted to bring something different to travelers when they FlyGPT.

“We wanted to ensure that we have something that offers a little bit of local flavor of the Gulf Coast,” Williams said at the ribbon cutting.

Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport opens new restaurants

Warby Parker opens first retail store in Mississippi

Warby Parker opened its first retail location in Mississippi in April at Highland Village in Jackson. The retailer of prescription glasses, contact lenses, and sunglasses has over 200 retail locations across the country. 

“We’ve been working diligently to get everything ready for Warby Parker’s grand opening,” said Alexandra Clark, WS Development Senior Vice President, Asset Strategy and Experience. “The store will be an incredible addition to Highland Village. We are so excited that Jackson and the surrounding metro area will now have access to one of the best glasses and eyewear brands in the country.” 

Warby Parker’s Highland Village location is a one-stop-shop, carrying the company’s full sun and optical eyewear offerings, as well as their first brand of daily contact lenses, Scout by Warby Parker, in addition to third-party contacts.

The new store is located in Suite 122, across from Red Square. 

Warby Parker, Jackson, MS

Singing River Foundation hosting Derby Mixer

Grab your best hat and seersucker and join the Mississippi Coast’s largest Derby party. The Singing River Foundation, associated with Singing River Health System, is gearing up for its 5th annual Derby Mixer Fundraiser. Watch the 149th Kentucky Derby while enjoying dinner, a bourbon tasting, cash bar, and music by the Unfazed Show &Band.  Guests will also have the opportunity to enter to win raffle prizes.

All event proceeds benefit the Singing River Foundation’s mission of supporting programs and services that improve health and save lives, as well as directly helping local patients struggling with basic health needs.

The event will be held at the Golden Nugget in Biloxi on Saturday, May 6th. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit here.


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About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: