Bill Hannah – Jackson, MS





Bob Luke, Chairman of the Board, 601-693-9990,

Debbie Mathis, Chief Operating Officer, 601-693-1306,


Bill Hannah Is Top Choice for EMBDC President/CEO


MERIDIAN, MS – The board of directors of the EMBDC is pleased to announce the selection of Bill Hannah as the President/CEO for the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation.


After considering four finalists, the Executive Committee of the EMBDC Board of Directors voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend Hannah, who had also been the unanimous choice of the Search Committee. Hannah is Vice President for Business Development of McCarty Architects/McCarty King Construction of Tupelo and Jackson, Mississippi.


“It has been a very organized methodical process with all parties understanding the importance of selecting the right professional to lead our organization and community forward,” said Bob Luke, Chairman of the Board. “The skills and experience that Mr. Hannah brings to the position as well as his passion for leading the EMBDC as we move forward with a focused vision with a single voice the “right Choice”.


Wade Jones resigned as EMBDC President in September after more than 13 years in the job. “The search process has been lengthy,” said Luke, who is Principal Architect at LPK Architects in Meridian. “However, we all understand the importance of making the right choice.”

Hannah had been the president and CEO of the Ashland Alliance in Ashland, Kentucky, from 2012 until he resigned early last year. The Alliance functions as the Chamber of Commerce for Boyd and Greenup counties in Kentucky. There, Hannah drew praise for promoting regional cooperation. “He strengthened our relationship with a number of groups, including the state house and the governor’s office and the economic development authority up there,” said Alliance Chairman Ed Neely. “We’ve been fortunate to have him.”


As President and CEO of the EMBDC, Hannah will work with all levels of government as well as with workforce development organizations and many other groups, both public and private. He would oversee a wide range of economic development programs and services.


Hannah had been President of Journal Logistics, a real estate company in Tupelo, before moving to the Ashland Alliance. He has also been Vice President of Sales and Marketing for JESCO Inc. Construction, working for the company first in Montgomery, Alabama, and then in Atlanta and Tupelo. He began his career at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, where he rose to become Manager for Economic Development. Hannah is a 1982 graduate of Auburn University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in personnel management. He has worked in private business, including 14 years with an industrial construction company in Montgomery, as well as in economic development.


The EMBDC ( is a not-for-profit organization that serves as the Chamber of Commerce and economic development agency for Meridian and Lauderdale County. Formed in late 1996 by a group of visionary business leaders, the EMBDC serves the City of Meridian, the City of Marion, Lauderdale County, and over 1,400 dues-paying members. Its mission is to empower a diverse leadership culture to achieve economic wealth through excellence in education, new investment, and the nurturing of existing business and industry.






Betsey Hale – Corning, NY

Please view This Link for story about Betsey Hale as new President of Three Rivers Development

Marie Brigatti – Battle Creek, MI

Rob Petersen – Cornerstone Alliance, Benton Harbor, MI

Cornerstone Alliance

38 W. Wall Street

Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Contact:  Susan Cox

Phone: 269.757.0204

rob petersen





Cornerstone Alliance Names New Chief Executive Officer


(October 14, 2015-Benton Harbor, MI)Rob Cleveland of Hartford City, Indiana is the new President and Chief Executive Officer of Cornerstone Alliance, Berrien County’s premiere economic development organization.  Cleveland was selected from a pool of qualified economic development candidates based on a national search.  He brings a wealth of experience in both economic and community development including economic development and community affairs for the utility company Indiana Michigan Power; executive director for Blackford County Economic Development (Hartford City, IN); and public relations for an Indianapolis-based motorsports team.

In his new role effective October 31, 2015, Cleveland will be lead the economic development initiatives of Cornerstone Alliance as they relate to its strategic plan including business attraction, job creation, existing business retention,  and fundraising.


Cleveland and his family are excited to be part of the community. “I am honored that the Cornerstone Alliance Board of Directors has selected me as the newest leader of such a quality organization.  Cornerstone Alliance has a long history of excellence in improving the lives of Berrien County’s residents and employers. I believe Berrien County is one of the finest places to live and work in the country.  My family and I are looking forward to integrating ourselves into the community.  And, I can’t wait to join the Cornerstone Alliance staff as we continue to work to bring new opportunities to Michigan’s Great Southwest.”

“Rob brings a variety of experience and expertise to this position,” said John Janick, Chairman of the Cornerstone Alliance Board of Directors. “Cornerstone Alliance has made tremendous progress in our efforts to deliver economic development outcomes to Berrien County.  Rob is a leader focused on results, and we look forward to having him continue to work to attract investments, create jobs and expand our existing businesses.”

Cleveland has his B.A. in Sport Administration from Ball State University and is a certified economic development professional (CEcD) by the International Economic Development Council.



# # #


About Cornerstone Alliance

Cornerstone Alliance is a non-profit, investor-governed, economic development organization primarily focused on increasing employment opportunities, private sector capital investments and the local tax base in Michigan’s Great Southwest; with specialized business services offered in economically distressed areas.

Marie Brigatti – Battle Creek, MI



Sara Wallace, Miller Foundation, 269-964-3542

Beth Brutsche, Chair, Battle Creek Unlimited, 269-209-1122

BCU hires new President & CEO Battle Creek, Michigan – April 21, 2015 – The Battle Creek Unlimited (BCU) Board of Directors today announced the selection of Marie Briganti as its new President and CEO. This decision followed a community survey, intensive nationwide search, testing, and a rigorous interview process. BCU’s Search Committee Chaired by Miller Foundation’s CEO Sara Wallace and populated with community members conducted an arduous process leading up to the selection. Briganti will assume her duties on May 1, 2015.

Briganti has 14 years of experience in the business and economic sectors, including 4 years in risk assessment and account consulting for Dun & Bradstreet. She managed the Michigan territory for a high-tech global marketing firm, was integral in leading the launch of Hinoki International School, and led projects that created hundreds of new jobs as International Business Development Manager with the Pure Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

A native of Fowler, Michigan, Briganti received her BA from Eastern Michigan University in Language & International Trade. She received her certification as an Economic Development Finance professional through the National Development Council. Briganti worked and studied overseas for two years and has traveled extensively, bringing strong Japanese language skills and multicultural competencies to the role.

She holds dual American-Italian citizenship and should help strengthen BCU’s solid presence in Europe.

Marie Briganti is described by former State of Michigan Auto Dept Head Nigel Francis as “Creative, focused …a positive problem solver that developed inroads where few others have in attraction and retention.”

Briganti stated, “I was impressed with everyone involved in the process. I am excited to have the opportunity to work closely with BCU’s staff and the community leaders to make our evolving vision a reality.”

– more –

Photo of Marie Briganti The selection of Briganti is the most recent step taken by Battle Creek Unlimited to recreate itself as the City of Battle Creek’s chief partner in business retention, development, and attraction.

Briganti will continue the work of interim CEO, Jim Hettinger, and BCU Vice Chair, John Gallagher in aligning the organization’s strategic plan with the goals of BC Vision and helping to spearhead a community collaboration.

BCU was recently named by Site Selection magazine as one of the top ten producers of economic development projects nationwide. This was the third award received in three years, but BCU is not resting on its laurels. Within the next two-four weeks, BCU will evaluate governance, board size, and other aspects of its operations in order to further its competitive position as one of nation’s leading economic development entities.

Battle Creek Unlimited is a private, non-profit corporation which serves as the economic development organization for the City of Battle Creek. Battle Creek Unlimited facilitates regional wealth creation through human, economic and community development activities.

Jim McHale – Jackson, MS



DRAFT 10.13.15




October 13, 2015


For further information, contact:




Education Services Foundation Names James E. McHale President and CEO


JACKSON, MS, (October 12, 2015) – Education Services Foundation (ESF) announced today James McHale as its new President and Chief Executive Officer, following an extensive six- month national search.  James will begin as ESF President on December 1, 2015.


McHale has significant experience in foundation management and leadership having been employed in the industry for nearly 25 years.  James has served in various senior leadership roles including Sr. Vice President for Programs, Chief of Staff,  and vice president for Program strategies with W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan where he was employed for over 20 years.


The national search was led by The PACE Group, a national executive search firm, headquartered in Mississippi.  The firm reviewed a diverse group of over 150 statewide and national applicants, before presenting six extremely capable and experienced candidates as finalists to the foundation’s search committee for consideration.  “There is no doubt that Jim is the right choice to lead ESF as we enter a new era in the organization’s 33 year history.  Our board’s support for him is unanimous and we look forward to finding new and innovative ways of continue to make a difference in the lives of the people of Mississippi,” said Stan Pratt, Chairman of Board.


“It will be an honor and a privilege to lead ESF as it continues its legacy of commitment to the people of Mississippi. The state is blessed to have such dedicated individuals as those who founded, nurtured and now serve on the ESF board of directors, as well as the excellent staff that implement the life-changing programs of this organization,” said McHale.


James McHale earned his Masters of Management from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and a Bachelors of Science from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo.


As President of ESF, McHale will lead the foundation’s efforts to provide support to specific education initiatives in Mississippi by identifying and funding proven programs focused on helping students succeed in education.




About Education Services Foundation (ESF)


Education Services Foundation is a nonprofit with the mission to help Mississippians achieve a better life through education by providing services and philanthropic grants while building permanent charitable capital. Currently the primary activity of ESF is the conduct of the Get2College program. Get2College offers a comprehensive college planning program that provides a range OF information and counseling to Mississippi students and their families on planning and paying for college. Services are offered in Get2College Centers in Jackson, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in North Mississippi and in workshops throughout the state.










State of Arkansas – Mike Preston

image002 (2)

March 26, 2015

Governor Asa Hutchinson Announces Mike Preston as the New Executive Director of AEDC

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced Mike Preston, 32, of Florida as his new Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement on Mike Preston:

“Mike Preston is a perfect fit to lead the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. As vice president for government affairs at Enterprise Florida, Michael has years of statewide economic development and business expertise and experience working with a state Legislature and governor. He’s a proven leader with an impressive track record of bringing in capital investment from major companies. Having worked in a highly competitive atmosphere, Michael understands what it takes to position a state to be a leader in job creation. I cannot wait to see what his experience, expertise and vision can do for Arkansas.”

Mike Preston issued the following statement:

“I look forward to using my economic-development experience and management skills to implement GovernorHutchinson’s plan to make Arkansas more competitive and create more jobs. I’ve been fortunate to work with a great team in Florida, and I’m very proud of the work we’ve done in the Sunshine State. But I’m eager to put my experience, background and vision to work for Arkansas, which has so much to offer and so much potential. I’m honored to be given this incredible opportunity and excited to get started.” 
A Florida native, Mike Preston has an extensive career in politics and economic development. He comes to Arkansas from Enterprise Florida, where he has served as director of government relations for the last six and a half years. During that time, he was part of a team that helped create more than 147,000 jobs generating more than $10 billion in capital investment. He was instrumental in some key projects, including: relocating the Hertz corporate headquarters and bringing 700 jobs and $68,750,000 in capital investment; establishing a Northrop Grumman manufacturing Center of Excellence with 1,800 jobs and $500,000,000 in capital investment; and attracting Navy Federal Credit Union to expand in the state bringing 5,000 jobs and $350,000,000 in capital investment. Before joining Enterprise Florida, he was the chief of staff to a Florida state senator and a legislative assistant to a state representative. Preston is a 2005 graduate of the University of Florida.

Danny Games has done a tremendous job in his role as Deputy Director of AEDC over the last few months, and he remains an important part of what the state is doing to create jobs. Games will continue in his current capacity.​

Contact: J.R. Davis ( or 501.353.5297)


Congrats to Mississippi football teams Ole Miss and Mississippi State from The PACE Group!

IMG952313The PACE Group would like to say congratulations to the football programs at Mississippi State and Ole Miss after a great day. First MSU beat Texas A&M and then Ole Miss topped Alabama.

We’re proud of the teams and fans from the state that is our home base. They showed what is possible to accomplish with teamwork and leadership, which are two things The PACE Group values. #HottyToddy! #HailState!

Today Ole Miss and Mississippi State are tied for No. 3 in The Associated Press poll. The Rebels are No. 4 in the Coaches poll and Mississippi State is No. 6. Glad to see this national recognition of the efforts of these two programs.

Click here for link to USA Today/Coaches poll.IMG952974

Click here for link to The Associated Press Poll.

More on this at our Twitter feed. Share your thoughts with us on this special day. Follow us at @ThePaceGroup

Good work Bulldogs and Rebels! Here are a few pictures from the scene in Oxford and it was equally joyous in Starkville. Good luck the rest of the season! You’ve made us proud.






John Lovorn’s Bowl Picks!


Here are The Pace Group CEO John Lovorn’s Bowl picks! Enjoy the college football bowl season.

Click link for Lovorn Bowl Picks 2014

A good swim story

When Steve Genter was 10 years old he dreamed that one day he would swim in the Olympics and receive a metal for his outstanding swimming in the 200 meter freestyle. Steve started practicing every day and he worked long hours and never missed a practice for the next 7 years. He worked hard and made a commitment to do his best each and every day.

Finally in 1972 the Olympic time trials happen and Steve finished first in the 200 meter freestyle event. He was the fastest qualifier in the event. Steve was reported to be the favorite of the U.S. to win the gold medal. While practicing one day two weeks before the final event his left lung collapsed. The Doctor told Steve that his dream was over and the pain would be too great to swim in the finals unless he took medication. The Olympic Committee ruled no medication regardless of the injury.

Steve Genter refused to give up and did not take any medicine. The day of the finals he went to the starting block and when the gun fired to start the race he swam the 200 freestyle. On the flip turn he felt the pain in his chest and blood poured out of his nose during the last 50 meters.

When Steve Genter touched the wall his time was 1:53:73.

Mark Spitz time was 1:52:78.

Mark Spitz went on and won 7 Gold medals and everyone called Mark Spitz a winner.

The real winner of this true story was Steve Genter. He received the Silver medal and stood next to Mark Spitz on the risers with his silver metal proudly around his neck.

If you like this true story about dreams and making a commitment then pass it on to someone you think would enjoy reading this.

1. Winners believe absolutely that they will achieve their goal

2. Winners are willing to make a sacrificial commitment to achieve their goal.

3. Winners train intensely.

4. Winners enjoy the journey.

5. Winners have a positive winning attitude that propels them in overcoming obstacles.

Shared with The PACE Group’s John Lovorn by my close friend James Threadgill. A great leader and friend.