Thursday, June 2, 2005

Williams’ career reaches milestone
• Holly Springs doctor gets state’s top small business honor

Staff Writer

Five Mississippi small business leaders were honored at the 2005 Small Business Week Celebration and Awards Luncheon held in Holly Springs last week.

Among those honored was Dr. Kenneth Williams, selected for the top award of the Mississippi Small Business Administration, the Small Business Person of the Year.

Williams was accompanied by his daughters Courtney, Schuyleo and Kendall, his son Parker, his wife Regina, his mother Marion C. Williams, his uncle Perry Williams and employees of the many Williams enterprises including Williams Medical Clinic and Alliance HealthCare System. Daughter Kelsey was taking exams and unable to attend.

“It is good to celebrate those who do good,” Scott Beggs, president of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce, said in opening remarks.

He said Williams gave the community a great boost by helping keep the Holly Springs hospital open.

Williams purchased the hospital just as it was about to be closed forever and renamed it Alliance. He also opened Williams Medical Clinic in Holly Springs and in Potts Camp after serving three years at the health clinic in Byhalia.

Williams opened his first office with the help of a MSBA loan and moved ahead to secure the hospital which has provided much needed home service to the community as well as jobs.

He thanked MSBA for helping him become successful in business.

“Thanks to SBA for taking a chance on a person like me,” Williams said at the associations luncheon which drew about 150 well-wishers and local dignitaries.

“I asked SBA for a $1 million loan to open a new office, they did it, and we grew,” he said. “I would like you (the audience) to give them a hand for being there for a person like me.”

The awards ceremony was held on Williams and his wife Regina’s 19th wedding anniversary and his accountant’s 25th wedding anniversary. The day was also a birthday for Chamber Director Susan Jordan and Sarah Power, a teacher with Marshall Academy and volunteer helper in food service for the event.

“This is bigger than me,” said Williams, admittedly with measured emotion. “This is a group effort, but it starts at a cellular level.”

He then recognized his mother, a retired teacher and the one who pushed him to sing in the choir and go to Sunday School.

“I had a teacher growing up and I passed it on to my children,” he said and added that education was stressed in his family.

“On my mother’s side were teachers and on my father’s side were physicians and dentists,” he said.

A lesson Williams said he has learned is that “everything we do as a human being affects somebody.”

He gave credit to his mother for helping him when he had fear and doubt. She taught him not to be afraid to fight fairly, to always do the right thing, to be somebody, and that he represents his mother and father at the community level, he said.

Other 2005 SBA awards went to Billy Mack Stuart, vice-president of First Financial Bank, Carthage, Miss., who received the Financial Services Advocate award; to Robbie Bell, with the Mississippi Business Journal, who received the Women in Business Champion award; to Kimberly McMillan, with Minority Capital Fund of Mississippi, who took the Minority Small Business Champion award; and to Jennie Simmons, with Simmons Erosion Control, who received the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Keynote speaker Stephen Gambrell with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, provided heart-warming comments and words of inspiration.

He called Holly Springs “a beautiful place,” and offered words, he said, that “will change your life today.”

Thoughts of children are an inspiration, he said:

  • “If I draw on the wall, I will do it behind the couch.”
  • “Be early if you are a bird. Be late if you are a worm.”
  • “Big clothes make you feel small.”
  • “A little kiss can make a big difference.”

Reviewing what the Corps does, he said it is funded as a civil works program but is run by the Department of Defense.

“Sixty percent of the money coming from the Corps goes to small business,” he said, “the people who do the work, the contractors, small business folk - that’s who does the work.”

And he added, “It is a great thing to see the wonderful work you are doing in Holly Springs.”

Gambrell said the best way to influence small business is with integrity - a word that means one, the same, permanent.

People of integrity are the same person at home, at work and at church - wherever they are, he said.

“If you are the same in all of these places in your life, somebody has done a lot of work on you - mentors, sponsors.

“A God who created everything you see, has whittled away at you to make you the same person whereever you go.”

Campbell said it is important to have as a relationship, “someone who will tell you the truth (about yourself).”

He recommended building integrity through reading and finding wisdom in literature like the Proverbs, regular exercise to reduce stress and improve thinking, and by having a “relationship between you and the Great Creator.

“Everything you do means something to somebody,” he said. “I challenge you to live with integrity.”

Mayor Andre’ DeBerry read a proclamation declaring May 24, 2005, as Dr. Kenneth Williams Day and presented him with a key to the city of Holly Springs. He said Williams is “a beacon of hope for the community, not only for the medical perspective, but also as a builder of bridges across the community.

Judith Adcock, branch manager of the SBA Gulfport Branch, complimented the welcome given to the SBA representatives as they came to the city, which she said included an introduction to DeBerry, the chief of police, Patricia Selman, fire chief Kenny Holbrook, many local residents and a group of after school children.

“In one word - Holly Springs is awesome,” she said.

Other SBA representatives and guests participating in the ceremonies included Rev. Canon Carolynne G. Williams of Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta; the Holly Springs High School ROTC; Doug Gurley, state director of Mississippi Network of Small Business Development Centers; William Brown, project director, Women’s Business Center; Janita Stewart, district director, Mississippi SBA district office; and young women with Marshall Academy who served as hostesses.

An estimated 200 invited guests were in attendance. Food and preparations for the ceremonies were provided by the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce and its sponsoring members.

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