RIDGELAND, MS: The Madison County Business League (MCBL) and the Madison County Foundation (MCF), through their respective Board of Directors, announce the merger of the two organizations. The membership of both organizations voted to approve the merger. “This merger has been in the works a long time,” said Jan Collins, executive director of the MCBL. “Much careful consideration by directors of each organization’s board has gone into each aspect of the merger. The main consideration by both boards has and always will be the betterment of Madison County.”
The Madison County Foundation has been in existence for nearly 20 years with the mission of “providing private sector support for projects imperative to the economic development and improvement of Mississippi and Madison County,” according to the organization’s web site. The Foundation’s membership consists of both public and private businesses, as well as individuals dedicated to moving Madison County forward through intelligent planning, while appreciating and preserving Mississippi’s rich heritage.
The Foundation has served as a visionary for Madison County, supporting high-profile projects that would allow additional and future economical growth for the area. Barney Daly, president of Trustmark Bank Metro Commercial Lending, is a MCBL sponsor and past MCF chairman and current MCF director. Collins says that Daly is responsible for spearheading the merger efforts. “This all happened with Gail Pittman’s leadership,” explains Daly. “She asked me if I’d look into the possibility of getting the two groups together. We had a good board, they had a good board, and we were all doing the same things. If you look at our mission statements, they were almost identical.”
Pittman serves as the current chairman of the MCF. “The Madison County Foundation and the Madison County Business League were both established to give Madison County ‘one vision and one voice,’ yet they were two separate organizations,” Pittman says. “Business leaders who were members of both organizations realized forming one large group makes more sense than having two smaller ones. The belief that one strong group of business and community leaders will have a greater impact on economic development and overall quality of life for Madison County has been the driving force behind this merger. We look forward to combining the great work of both organizations and working closely with our elected officials, both locally and on a national level, to continue to make Madison County the very ‘best of the best’ in the nation ”
The MCBL was founded in 2008 through a partnership with the Madison County Economic Development Authority. The Madison County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution creating the Business League in March 2008. The purpose of the League is to offer the County a unique opportunity to bring a renewed spirit of cooperation and unity between the public and private sectors, thereby encouraging proper planning for future growth and development. Tim Coursey, executive director of MCEDA, says “the Business League is the stakeholder organization for MCEDA and with this merger, we recognize an immediate increase in stakeholder participation and support due to the subsequent increase in the membership of the combined organization.”
Currently, the MCF has 108 members and the MCBL has 150 members, some of whome are members of both organizations. “With this merger, increased efficiency can be realized by one organization rather than two,” explains Collins. “One organization will decrease current and avoid future duplicative and overlapping demand for resources such as dues, vendor support, commitments of time, etc. One organization can build a larger presence in the community by capitalizing on the synergies of both the Madison County Business League and the Madison County Foundation.”
There will be some restructuring as the merger goes through. The new name of the organization will be the Madison County Business League & Foundation. “The name was one of the biggest issues with our group,” says Daly. “This new name best communicates who we are as an organization.” The biggest concern for the MCBL, according to Daly, was that their bylaws not be changed. “All that stays intact. The MCBL bylaws will be the bylaws for the merged organization.” Gray Marchetti, executive administrator of the MCF, states “the Foundation is extremely excited about this opportunity to partner with the Business League. We feel it is best for Madison County as a whole and will unify the business community as we move forward.”
Todd Burwell served as the first chairman for the MCBL and is currently an advisor for the organization. He was instrumental in drafting the agreement to merge the MCBL and the MCF. “As the initial Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Madison County Business League, I am very proud of our growth and accomplishments over the last few years which got us to the point where a great organization like the Madison County Foundation was interested in joining forces to help promote the kind of economic development in Madison County that all of us who live and work here should want. The merger of the Madison County Business League and Foundation will only strengthen our mission of working with our public officials to promote economic development in Madison County.”
The MCBL Board of Directors will remain intact as the Board of Directors for the surviving entity with two possible exceptions. Butler Snow and C Spire both have directors on the boards of the MCBL and the MCF. At their election, the directors from those companies on the MCF board may replace the directors from those companies on the MCBL board. The incoming chairman of the MCF board will serve as co-chairman of the surviving entity’s Board of Directors for the first year.
“There are just so many positive points to this merger,” says Daly. “While both organizations were touting ‘one voice, one vision,’ it was more like double vision. We realized that we can be a stronger unit by coming together.”
The Madison County Foundation is leaving a legacy in the form of a trust fund that will be run by the executive committee. The fund will help with major projects in the county, particularly in the area of education.