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Magnolia on the Move: May 15, 2023

Magnolia on the Move: May 15, 2023

By: Frank Corder - May 15, 2023

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

Here’s a look at what’s happening across the business community in Mississippi.

USDA Regional Food Business Centers announced for Mississippi

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was in Mississippi on Friday to discuss the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Delta Regional Food Business Centers. Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson and other state and local officials were on hand.

USDA has announced that it will fund $400 million for the Regional Food Business Initiative. Twelve organizations referred to as Regional Food Centers will support producers by providing localized assistance to access local and regional supply chains, including linking producers to wholesalers and distributors. 

The two Centers in and around Mississippi include:

  • Appalachia USDA Regional Food Business Center – Rural Action, Inc. 
  • Delta USDA Regional Food Business Center – Mississippi Delta Council for Farmworker Opportunities

USDA says the Centers will provide technical assistance needed to access new markets, access to federal, state, and local resources, and will assist small- and mid-sized producers in overcoming barriers to market access, with a focus on underserved farmers, ranchers, and food businesses.  No match is required. 

Commissioner Gipson called the development “a positive game-changer for our local food supply systems,” saying it gives Mississippi farmers more opportunities to access markets locally and regionally.

(Photo from Andy Gipson’s Facebook page)

The Blind Butcher Shoppe opens second location

The Blind Butcher Shoppe was established in 2020 after nurse practitioner Bri Mixon decided she wanted to try something different in her life. She saw a need for a butcher shop in Lucedale and set about starting her own business without any experience in the industry, hence the “blind” reference in the name of the Shoppe.

The Shoppe quickly attracted loyal customers looking for great food options, pulling patrons from neighboring areas in and around George County.

The business has grown and is now set up for franchising, with locations being considered along the Coast such as in Mobile. Other possible franchise locations on the company’s radar could include college towns.

The first expansion is now open in downtown Pascagoula. The business has received huge applause from the local community in only a few days since they opened the doors.

The Blind Butcher Shoppe in Pascagoula (Photo from the business Facebook page.)

Oschner announces elimination of 770 jobs impacting Louisiana, Mississippi

Last week, Oschner Health CEO Pete November announced that the health system was reducing the size of their workforce by eliminating 770 positions in Louisiana and Mississippi, which represents roughly 2% of their workforce.

“It is the hardest change we have ever had to make at Ochsner, but one we must to ensure we continue to be a strong organization with the resources to fulfill our purpose and lead the way for clinical excellence and innovation,” November said.

Impacted positions are in management and primarily non-direct patient care roles, November told employees in a letter. No physicians are impacted by the reduction, and any impacted employees with active clinical credentials will be offered direct patient care roles.

The Oschner CEO cited increased labor costs, a shortage of patient care clinicians, high inflation and the end of pandemic relief funding from the government as reasons for the decision.

No specific number of cuts in Mississippi were released from the company. Oschner operates health centers in Hancock County, Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead, Long Beach, Biloxi, Hattiesburg, Flowood, Gulfport, Picayune, Vancleave, Hurley and D’Iberville. Oschner also partners with Singing River Health System at locations in Pascagoula, Ocean Springs and Lucedale.

Cadence Bank closing branches

Cadence Bank has announced that it was closing 35 branches across the country in order to optimize and strengthen their branch network, according to Chairman and CEO Dan Rollins.

At least three branches in Mississippi are known to be impacted by the company’s decision:

  • U.S. 61 North, Vicksburg
  • Presley Heights, Tupelo
  • Lehmberg Road, Columbus

A release from Cadence Bank said the 35 branch locations that will be closed or consolidated will be done during mid-2023.

“This strategy, including other in-process initiatives, is estimated to result in annualized cost savings of approximately $15 to 20 million,” the company noted. “These branch closures and consolidations are in addition to the 17 executed in the fourth quarter of 2022.”


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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: