Former Inmate Becomes Business Owner

As we head into the summer, the latest unemployment figures show a drop for Mississippi, down from 11.1% in March to 10.7% in April.

The recession has posed obstacles for many people in finding jobs. But a Meridian businessman says he knows about beating the odds in the marketplace.

818 18th Avenue South is home of The Rib Shack in Meridian. It's owned and operated by Ronnie 'Shack, as he likes to be called. He says his business is about more than just making a living. It's also about life and the importance of second chances.

Seven years ago, 'Shack' was released from jail after being incarcerated for the sale of drugs. Since then he says he has been clean and sober.

"I had to have a change of heart," he said,. "You know, I knew a life of selling drugs and a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And then there had to be a change in my life and I wanted a change, and as I was incarcerated, I made that change."

By turning to God, 'Shack' says he received a breakthrough.

"I use to be a chef at O'Charley's and they gave me a second chance," he said.

After working there, saving and sacrificing, 'Shack' says he stepped out on faith and opened "The Rib Shack". Now he says his mission is to help others also beat the odds.

"Each person who works for me has a record," he said. "And I'm going to try to help these guys to get to their goal, get to the point where I'm at."

"Since I came down here, it's been all a positive environment, everything positive, nothing negative," said store manager Andre Marshall.

"Anybody that's incarcerated right now, it's not the end," said 'Shack'. "Prayer changes things and then you've got to have that inner strength to just carry on, you know. So, this ain't the end."

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