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Magnolia on the Move: July 1, 2023

Magnolia on the Move: July 1, 2023

By: Frank Corder - July 1, 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.

Three new businesses open in Jackson’s Highland Village

Highland Village in Jackson recently welcomed three new businesses to the property. RockBox Fitness, a boxing-based studio with locations across the country, has opened its first Mississippi location. Underground Social, a locally owned unisex barber shop, opened its doors in June. And Family Social Club is now open, bringing a brand-new concept to the Jackson-metro.

Highland Village (Photo from website)

Alexandra Clark, WS Development Senior Vice President, Asset Strategy and Experience said the property is thrilled to welcome all three businesses to Highland Village.

“They each bring unique experiences to our property that we know our guests and people in our community will enjoy,” Clark said.

She said adding a fitness studio, a barber shop, and an indoor play place to Highland Village echoes what they are trying to achieve: something there for everyone.  

Highland Village describes itself as an eclectic collection of shops and eateries in the heart of The City of Soul. It is home to an assortment of locally owned boutiques, national brands exclusive to HV, one-of-a-kind restaurants and fitness studios, including Whole Foods Market, lululemon, vineyard vines, Kendra Scott, Buffalo Peak and Maison Weiss.

Shoemaker named to FDIC Advisory Committee

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) recently announced eight new members of the agency’s Advisory Committee on Community Banking. Included among the group is Lillous Ann Shoemaker, President of Magnolia State Bank in Bay Springs, Mississippi.

Lillous Shoemaker (Photo from Bay Springs website)

Composed of a cross-section of community bankers from around the country, the FDIC notes that its Advisory Committee shares input on a broad range of community bank policy and regulatory matters.

Shoemaker, an attorney and Bay Springs resident, was named Magnolia State Bank President in 2016, after serving as the bank’s general counsel since 2014. She has also served as a municipal judge.

Magnolia State Bank is a state-chartered financial institution. It was established in 1975 as Jasper County Bank and changed its name in 2000. The company’s website reports that the bank’s total assets as of December 2021, were $416,138,725.

Fat Boy’s Pizza to expand in Jackson-metro area

Fat Boy’s Pizza, a New Orleans-based, family-friendly pizza chain, announced this week that the company has its sights set on the Jackson metro area for franchise expansion. Recognized in 2022 as one of nine Breakout Brands in the U.S., Fat Boy’s Pizza says it is primed for growth with locations including Clinton, Ridgeland, Madison, Pearl, Canton and Brandon.

“We’re ready to give Mississippi residents more to love,” Vice President of Operations Casey Biehl said in statement. “Our Hattiesburg location near Southern Miss convinced us we need to have more of a presence in Mississippi.”

Fat Boy’s Pizza goes big on everything. The combination of the World’s Biggest Slice, whopping 30-inch pies, delectable appetizers, full bar featuring premium daiquiris, game room and passionate community involvement has been a recipe for success since the first Fat Boy’s location opened in Metairie, Louisiana in 2019. 

Fat Boy’s now operates nine locations in three states – six in Louisiana, one in Mississippi and one in Richmond, Texas, with more to come.

Hancock County port to see water well, tank improvements

Port Bienville and Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission (HCPHC) will be the beneficiary of a grant awarded by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality through the Mississippi Municipality and County Water Infrastructure (MCWI) Grant program for the Port Bienville Well & Tank project estimated to cost approximately $4.5 million dollars.

The grant award from MCWI cannot exceed $2,225,110 and is supported with a local match of $2,225,110 from the Hancock County Board of Supervisors from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Port Bienville Industrial Park (Photo from Hancock County website)

“The water deficiency has hindered existing industry expansions, fire ratings, redundancy, and opportunities for new industry at Port Bienville,” said Hancock County Port & Harbor Executive Director/CEO Blaine LaFontaine. “HCPHC is grateful for the continued partnership and support from Hancock County Board of Supervisors and the Hancock County Water & Sewer District. We believe this investment will allow Hancock County to have the capacity to be competitive with new opportunities and support our existing industry demands.”

According to Theresa Ryan of the Hancock County Board of Supervisors, Port Bienville serves as an economic engine for Hancock County with approximately 750 jobs and 16 companies.

Over $22 million invested in workforce training in last year

Over the past 12 months, Mississippi has invested over $22 million high-demand, high-wage training programs to better meet the industry needs. This investment, officials say, will result in an increase in annual training capacity of over 5,000 individuals across five priority training sectors.

In partnership with Mississippi’s 15 community colleges, K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning, AccelerateMS has worked to target programs aligned with training deficiencies across Mississippi’s eight distinct ecosystems that meet the needs of business and industry with quality opportunities for individuals.

AccelerateMS notes that new workforce programs have been developed in areas such as advanced manufacturing and fiber splicing for broadband roll-out. Existing capacity in programs such as nursing, diesel technology, CDL, and utility linework have all been increased to meet the growing and immediate market demand. 

“Over the last year, we have been fortunate to support numerous quality programs with our partners throughout the state who are doing the heavy lifting of preparing Mississippians for better careers,” said Dr. Courtney Taylor, Deputy Director for Postsecondary Strategy, in a statement.


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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: