A judge ruled in December that R. Allen Stanford, the financier accused of swindling $7.2 billion from thousands of investors, is going to trial Jan. 23 in Texas.
His Stanford Financial Group had offices in Tupelo, and two of the company’s top executives are Baldwyn natives and lived there until the company was shut down in 2009.
James M. Davis, SFG’s former chief financial officer, was charged separately and pleaded guilty. He is expected to testify. Former Chief Investment Officer Laura Pendergest-Holt, like Davis, is free on bail and will be tried later.
• SFG’s former Tupelo office in the Fairpark District was bought for $750,000 by Tupelo businessman V.M. Cleveland, who leased the building to Trustmark Bank.
Davis’ seven properties in downtown Baldwyn were bought for $155,000 by Baldwyn businessman Earl Stone. At the time of the purchase, he said he wanted to reinvigorate the area by attracting shops and restaurants.
Furniture industry sees some positive signs
• Pontotoc-based Southern Motion plans to add 150 employees at the former ForeFront Golf plant in Baldwyn. It could potentially add 400 employees within four years.
The company has hired nearly 300 employees since August 2010 expansion announcement. The company now employs about 1,000 workers.
• Washington Furniture Sales, founded by industry veteran Gerald Washington, moved into the former Lane plant in Pontotoc and within weeks said it was adding 100,000 square feet of warehouse space.
Furniture industry loses icon in Lynn Davis
Among the victims of the devastating tornado that ripped through the region in April was Lynn Davis, a furniture icon whose roots ran deep in Mississippi.
Davis, 55, was in his truck when the vehicle was thrown several miles into Monroe County, where the vehicle landed.
He headed upholstery furniture and case goods importer Davis International and was the co-founder of the Tupelo Furniture Market.
TownHouse Home Furnishings recovers quickly
Smithville’s largest employer, TownHouse Home Furnishings, saw its plant hit hard by the EF-5 tornado in April, putting some 120 people out of work.
But it was only temporary. Within two weeks, the company had moved into the former PeopLoungers plant in Mantachie and was back making furniture.
Company officials have said they will rebuild in Smithville, and in September, the company received grant money to move along those plans. The money will be used to build a connecting building between TownHouse’s warehouse – which wasn’t damaged by the tornado – to the rest of the rebuilt plant.
Hancock Fabrics names Morgan president, CEO
Baldwyn-based Hancock Fabrics named Steven R. Morgan its new president and CEO in October.
Morgan had been the interim CEO and president since last January, after the company’s board did not renew Jane Aggers’ contract. Aggers’ contract provided her an annual base pay of $450,000 from 2008 until January 2011.
Morgan, who gets a base salary of $600,000 a year, has been on Hancock’s board since June 2010.
Area manufacturers expand, add jobs
Despite enduring double-digit unemployment rates for the third year in a row, Northeast Mississippi did have several key business and industry announcements:
• Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. launched a $9 million expansion at its Tupelo plant to start the year. The project will add 35 jobs. The Tupelo plant opened in 1984 and employs some 1,200 workers.
• In Oxford, Olin opened its $100 million Winchester Centerfire ammunition plant and said it would employ 1,000 new workers within five years. The company’s Rimfire and Military Packing operations already employ about 300.
• In Ripley, Oil-Dri Corp. of America’s Blue Mountain Production Co. said a $9 million expansion would add 20 jobs. The company employs about 150 people between its Blue Mountain and Ripley operations. The Ripley plant produces a new line of cat litter.
TRA completes land sale for restaurant in Fairpark
Fairpark developers completed their first land sale in two years.
The Tupelo Redevelopment Agency signed a sales contract with Slow’s Eateries, which plans to build a restaurant next to the Renasant Center for IDEAs.
Slow’s Eateries is owned by Johnny Robbins, owner of Papa V’s in Fairpark, and his brother, Ben.
Robbins said the restaurant will be a sit-down, casual restaurant with a sports bar atmosphere. He is working on a franchise agreement with a well-known, Mississippi-based restaurant chain.
Daily Journal reports