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Magnolia on the Move: July 15, 2023

Magnolia on the Move: July 15, 2023

By: Frank Corder - July 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.

Former USM Quarterback named Loan Officer at Community Bank

Former Southern Miss Quarterback Austin Davis has joined Community Bank and is now a loan officer in the Lauderdale County / Meridian market.

Davis, who has been with Community Bank for six months, has been in the financial institution’s management trainee program.

Austin Davis (Photo from Community Bank)

Prior to joining the bank, Davis spent six seasons with six different NFL teams after going undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft. He went on to be an offensive assistant with the Seattle Seahawks in 2019 before being promoted to Quarterbacks Coach in 2020.

Davis was hired as the Offensive Coordinator at Auburn University in December 2021 but he stepped down two months later.

While at Southern Miss, Davis rose from being a walk-on to being the starting quarterback as a freshman. He broke former Golden Eagle legend Brett Favre’s school record for most touchdown passes by a freshman. Davis set 15 new school records during his freshman season.

Davis ended his four seasons at USM with nearly 11,000 passing yards and 109 touchdowns, with 83 of those through the air. His career earned him the Conerly Trophy his senior year, recognized as the best college player in Mississippi in 2011.

Lobaki’s renovation, expansion celebrated in Jackson

The City of Jackson and the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership held a ribbon cutting ceremony recently in celebration of the renovation of Lobaki’s offices. The company says the office renovations were necessary to accommodate its expansion and recruitment requirements of quality computer graduates from Mississippi colleges and universities.

(Photo submitted by Lobaki)

Lobaki is a Mississippi owned and operated Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) company making VR/AR Experiences (Programs) for schools, career training centers, enterprises, as well as some military applications. It was founded in 2016 and started operations in the Mississippi Delta before moving to Jackson.

“Our success is entirely due to the support of the local communities and schools,” said Kevin Loud, President of Lobaki. “We are the only VR company headquartered in Mississippi and differentiate ourselves from our out-of-state competitors by providing the best support and training with a laser focus on Mississippi.” 

Virtual Reality interactive stations were set up throughout the facility where participants could experience Lobaki’s products in education, workforce development, and enterprise solutions. Participants were able to visit an animal cell, perform an oil change on a car, and even meet some of the leaders of the Civil Rights movement within the products built by Lobaki.

Wesson joins Hancock County Port Board of Commissioners

Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission recently announced Ray Wesson, Jr. as the newest addition to their Board of Commissioners.

(Photo from HCPHC)

Wesson is a native of Ocean Springs and a lifelong resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. His 30-year career in financial services has given him the opportunity to live and work in nearly every Gulf Coast community across the region. 

Wesson currently serves as Market President for BankPlus. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Mississippi State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Alabama.

Wesson has served on the Board of Directors for the Salvation Army, Gulf Coast Community Ministries, Home of Grace, MS Gulf Coast YMCA, Hancock Community Development Foundation, and the Southern MS Planning and Development District, among others and has been a volunteer for the Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity. 

Mississippi State recognizes Garrett as part of health, science career program

Jonyla Garrett has received recognition from Rural Medical and Science Scholars program directors and counselors. 

Jonyla Garrett (third from left in photo) recognized in the MSU Rural Medical & Science Scholars program.

Garrett was among 14 students enrolled in the summer program at Mississippi State University to encourage high school students to pursue health or science careers in rural areas of the state. 

Additionally, Garrett received the Bonnie Carew Spirit of Excellence Award that recognizes an outstanding scholar.

MSU’s Extension Service directed the program with support from MSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Mississippi Office of Rural Health and Primary Care/MSDH, Toyota Wellspring Fund at CREATE, CareSource, AIM for Change Extension Program, and MSU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President. 

MDA, U.S. Treasury deploying $86 million to support small businesses

The Mississippi Development Authority and U.S. Treasury Department announced this week that the State Small Business Credit Initiative has been approved for up to $86 million.

The SSBCI will operate four programs to support Mississippi small businesses and startups: a loan participation program, a loan guarantee program, and two equity/venture capital programs.

The loan participation program, known as the Mississippi CDFI Small Business Loan Fund, has been allocated $45 million to provide funds in the form of a loan to community development financial institutions to support lending to Mississippi small businesses and startups. According to the MDA, this program aims to increase access to capital for small businesses in Mississippi and promote economic growth and job creation.

The Mississippi Venture Capital Program, administered by Innovate Mississippi, has been allocated $15 million to provide equity support to small businesses by investing in venture capital funds that support startups.

The SSBCI Direct Program in Mississippi is an initiative with a budget of $11 million, focused on Pre-Seed, Seed and Series A stage startups. MDA says larger deals can receive up to $3 million with an SSBCI match of up to $1 million, while the remaining funds are allocated for SSBCI deals with a match of up to $500,000.

The state will also operate a $15 million loan guarantee program with guarantees of up to 80 percent, with the goal being to expand access to capital for underserved small businesses.

New Director named for the Two Mississippi Museums

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) announced that Michael Morris will serve as the new director of the Two Mississippi Museums – the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

MIchael Morris (Photo from MDAH)

He assumes the role after Pamela D.C. Junior retired in June.

According to MDAH, Morris is a Jackson native who earned his bachelor’s degree in history and master’s degree in political science from Jackson State University, where he worked at the Margaret Walker Center and Fannie Lou Hamer Institute on Citizenship and Democracy. He earned his supervisory management certificate from the Mississippi State Personnel Board and is currently completing its Certified Public Manager Program. Morris also completed the Stennis Institute’s State Executive Development Institute program at Mississippi State University.

Morris began his career at MDAH in the public relations office in 2016, and most recently served as director of public engagement. He was responsible for co-leading the MDAH strategic planning process, coordinating community meetings, leading department research projects, planning major events, and supporting the department director and deputy director during legislative sessions.


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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: