It's All About Image

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"It took me 40 years to achieve this overnight success," said Marty Davidson of Southern Pipe and Supply Company after receiving the Hartley Peavey Entrepreneurial Excellence Award at the "Main Event" on Thursday. His uncle won the same award 16 years ago, an indicator the success of this company lies with its people.

"People buy from people, not from companies, so if I had to pick one thing it would be that we built a really good first-rate group of people," said Davidson.

It's advice all of the businesses at the Main Event strive to achieve. With record attendance, organizers say it speaks volumes about the economic development of this area.

"Many of the prospective companies we talk to in the automotive industry, in the food processing or timber products industry, are entrepreneurs. They can identify with a company that built a small organization into a large one over time," said Wade Jones, president of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation.

You could call it an entrepreneurial image. That's why this year's theme focused on image. It's a key aspect Jones says will allow the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation draw in targeted corporations to the area and keep the ones that remain.

"At the EMBDC, our goal is to bring new industry. But it’s also our job to keep and maintain the businesses that are here. The ones that contribute to this community, the ones who build the tax base and payrolls in this community," Jones said.

Although called the Main Event, this is really only part of the process of business and economic development in the area. That process is a 24-hour, seven day a week job, with competition not only from new technology but other countries as well.