Stone County residents and guests packed Heidelberg Hall Monday evening for the Stone County Economic Development Partnership's annual meeting.
Blake Wilson, president of the Mississippi Economic Council delivered the keynote address and admonished the crowd that we're all in this together and it comes down to our children.
Wilson expounded on the importance of quality education preceding economic growth and the need for a, "shared, common vision," by members of any community, be it at the local, state or national level.
He pointed out ways in which Mississippians had taken small steps in pursuit of a much larger goal.
"Incremental progress becomes exponential progress over time," he said.
Wilson insisted there is no reason Mississippi should not become the, "next jewel in the Southern crown," joining South Carolina, Georgia and Florida as a state which has figuratively pulled itself up by the bootstraps and remade itself as an economic success.
Pizza Inn of Wiggins was chosen as the Small Business of the Year while Hampton Inn earned the Large Business of the Year award.
Mary Graham, president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College was honored as Educator of the Year and Dick O'Neal, chairman of the Stone County Utility Authority, was honored as Citizen of the Year.