Meridian Star

October 16, 2013

Bob Luke to chair EMBDC

By Terri Ferguson Smith / tsmith@themeridianstar.com
Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —   Despite a heavy hit to the local economy this year, business leaders are optimistic that Meridian and Lauderdale County can win new industries and businesses.

    At the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation's annual luncheon on Tuesday, outgoing chairman C.D. Smith said with the closing of Handy Hardware and subsequent loss of 100 jobs, it had been a rough year; but that it balanced out with CertainTeed Corporation's announcement in June that it will reopen here and by 2016 should employ about 110 new positions.

    Addressing the room full of business women and men at MSU-Meridian, keynote speaker Jeff Conley advised them about their priorities, saying they could learn a lesson from young people characterized as Generation Y'ers.

    "They are not defined by work. Work is what you do. It's not who you are," Conley said. "No career success is worth family failure."

    Conley, based out of Dallas, Texas, runs the Jeff Conley Corporation, a management consulting firm.

    Smith passed the gavel to Bob Luke of LPK Architects who said he moved his family here in 1986 when he heard of Meridian's potential.

    "We're still hearing about potential here," Luke said.

    Luke outlined a starting point, saying first the community must define the success it wants to achieve; next establish priorities; and then work and speak with one voice.

    "We have to decide what success should look like," Luke said.

    Luke said it was important to talk about the rough times while working for better times.

    "We don't want to sugarcoat things. We want to be real candid with people. There were so many successes, but we also want to be honest. It was really a tragedy to lose Handy Hardware," Luke said. "We can't do anything about that. That's just the economy and the way life works."

    Creating successful partnerships and working together will move the community forward, he said.

    "We have so much opportunity, so much talent with the people, the work force, the work ethic that we have, let's work together as a team — city, county, public, private, everybody together with one voice," Luke said.

    Asked to describe his vision for success, Luke said quality of life is key.

    "We all want to be safe, we want to be secure, we want to have good infrastructure, good roads, things like that," Luke said. "We want to have entertainment opportunities. We want to have good food, good restaurants.To do all these things we've got to grow. We have to grow our tax base. We have to support things that generate that growth. That's what success looks like to me."

    Wade Jones, executive director of EMBDC, said Luke's vision will serve the community well.

    "He understands the importance of defining that vision, redefining the mission of the organization, developing the strategic plans and executing those plans to get the desired results," Jones said. "He understands that in order to get those results, we often need to make changes. That may be in the way we market ourselves, that may be in the way we present our material, that may be in the way we package our financials to be more competitive in the economic development ring. With Bob it's a holistic approach. It's about all aspects of growing this community."

    Luke has been an architect for more than 30 years. A native of Philadelphia, he attended East Central Community College and is a graduate of Mississippi State University.

    Luke is the managing principal of LPK Architects and his experience ranges from large healthcare facilities to historic renovations. Over the last several years, he has provided design and planning expertise for Mississippi universities with the most recent project being the expansion of Davis Wade Stadium.

    He has been married to Kathy Chester for over 39 years, has three children all whom are MSU graduates.

    Tony Pompelia was awarded the EMBDC's annual Small Business Leadership Award on Tuesday.

    Founder and managing partner of Leading Edges, Pompelia is  a graduate of Mississippi State University and has held held key marketing positions with McKee Foods Corporation in Chattanooga, Tenn. and Earthgrains, Inc. in St. Louis, Mo. He also held the position of executive vice president of Townsend, Barney & Patrick, a regional marketing firm in Birmingham.

    In June 2000, Pompelia returned home to Meridian and starting Leading Edges.  Since that time Leading Edges has grown to serve local and regional accounts and has 16 employees.

    He is a member of the Board of Directors for the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation and a member of the Meridian Community College’s Foundation Board. Pompelia is a past board President of the Meridian Community College Foundation Board and a past Chairman of the Board for the United Way of East Mississippi.

    He has been a part of the Meridian Public School’s Study Buddy program and is currently an Adjunct Lecturer for the Mississippi State Meridian Campus’s School of Business.

    A Rotarian, Pompelia's  company offers their services to local non-profits through a national, philanthropic initiative known as CreateAthon. He and his wife Sharon are active in NorthPark Church and together they have two children and three granddaughters.