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Mississippi businesses targeted with official-looking mailers

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The Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office warns the business community of deceptive letters requesting a $90.50 fee to order certain business documents from the Secretary of State’s Office.

The Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office received numerous reports of a company using the fictitious name, MS Certificate Service, soliciting misleading “2020 Certificate of Existence Request Forms” to businesses throughout Mississippi. This solicitation is not sent or authorized by the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.

Registered businesses in Mississippi do not have to respond or send payment to the third party, MS Certificate Service.

“Scams like this resurface quite often in an attempt to cheat hardworking, unsuspecting business owners who are doing their best to stay on top of everything,” said Secretary Michael Watson in a statement. “Our office takes pride in having an affordable business filing system, and we work hard to make sure no business owner gets taken advantage of by groups like this. We encourage all businesses to be vigilant and report anything suspicious or misleading. A big thank you to those who brought this one to our attention.”
Misleading solicitations may:
  • Require a fee.
  • Cite specific Mississippi statutes.
  • Contain a due date for your response.
  • Appear similar to a government form.
  • Contain a “Customer ID Number” that does not match a number given to you by a State or Federal Agency.
  • Contain a warning to make sure that the form’s instructions are followed exactly when completing the form.
  • Contain your business entity’s actual business ID number and date of formation, as reflected in the Secretary of State’s business records.
A certificate of good standing in the state of Mississippi can be ordered online at www.sos.ms.gov. Online processing costs $25 and is immediate.

Businesses can report deceptive or misleading solicitations to the Secretary of State’s Office or the Attorney General’s Office. The Mississippi Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline is 1-800-281-4418.

For more information, call the Secretary of State’s Business Services Division at (601) 359-1633 or 1-800-256-3494 or visit https://www.sos.ms.gov/BusinessServices/Pages/default.aspx.

An example of a scam mailer sent to Mississippi businesses. Click to expand. (image from MSOS)

Business

Shandell Lewis opens an online home accessory store

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Shandell Lewis (photo courtesy S. Lewis)

Vicksburg native Shandell Lewis has started an online company where she sells various home and kitchen accessories, including luxury candles, room sprays and wax melts.

Lewis started organizing A Touch of Magnolia six months ago ad is excited about selling products that have helped her along the way. In college, she was diagnosed with severe anxiety but the aroma of certain scented candles helped bring her peace during difficult times. Now, Lewis sees A Touch of Magnolia becoming a great success as she spreads her love of aromatherapy to others.

“I want to go as far as God wants me to, and I want to put Mississippi on the map,” Lewis said.

A Touch of Magnolias is in the beginning stages of the business, and the store will have a soft opening online Nov 30.

Lewis is a 2011 graduate of Warren Central High School and graduated from Tougaloo College in 2016 with a degree in psychology. She received her master’s in school counseling from the University of Mississippi in 2018 and currently works as a high school counselor.

Lewis is grateful to her family for her success over the years.

“I come from a family of carpenters, business and home owners,” she said, “and we are all used to using our hands.”

To find out more about A Touch of Magnolia, visit the store on Facebook, Instragram or on its website.

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MS Lottery tech partner to contribute $10,000 annually to HBCUs

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The Mississippi Lottery Corporation, along with its gaming and instant ticket printing vendor, International Game Technology PLC, announced Wednesday that IGT will contribute $10,000 annually in scholarship funds to benefit students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Mississippi. Five individual HBCU schools will receive $2,000 per year for the duration of IGT’s contract to fund scholarships for deserving students.

The five HBCUs include Rust College in Holly Springs, Alcorn State University in Alcorn, Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, and Tougaloo College and Jackson State University, both located in Jackson.

“Since the first day of sales Nov. 25, 2019, the Mississippi Lottery Corporation has exceeded all sales expectations and revenue return to the State of Mississippi,” said MLC President Tom Shaheen. “This could not have happened without the knowledge, expertise and experience of IGT. We are very proud to have a partner also willing to give back to Mississippi in the form of contributions to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”

“When IGT began its partnership with the Mississippi Lottery, we made a commitment to not only introduce growth-driving solutions for the Lottery, but to also give back to the local communities and residents of Mississippi,” said Jay Gendron, IGT chief operating officer, lottery. “IGT is extremely proud to collaborate with the lottery and Mississippi’s HBCUs to provide opportunities for students with diverse backgrounds to further their studies and move on to lead promising careers.”

IGT is the lottery technology partner to the Mississippi Lottery and supplies the lottery with its draw-based central system, lottery terminals, instant tickets, warehousing and distribution of instant tickets, marketing support, field services, call center operations, retailer training, and primary and back up data centers. IGT has had a presence in Mississippi since 1992 through its gaming operations and helped open the first casino in the state. In 2019, IGT opened a local office and a warehouse in the greater Jackson area near the Mississippi Lottery Corporation headquarters to ensure collaboration, maximize efficiency and address opportunities.

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Cars line up on Starbucks’ opening day

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Cars lined up down the block on Starbucks' opening day Tuesday. (photo by Thomas Parker)

Cars lined up Tuesday at the new Vicksburg Starbucks drive-thru window to get a first taste of the chain’s coffee beverages and food offerings.

Starbucks, based in Seattle, Washington, announced last year that it was adding a location in Vicksburg at 3405 Halls Ferry Road, and many in the community were eagerly awaiting the chance to visit the well-known coffee shop. Before, if a Vicksburg resident wanted Starbucks, they would have to drive about 30 minutes to Clinton for the nearest location.

It remains to be seen how business will hold up after the initial rush subsides. Some are curious how the opening will impact Vicksburg’s coffee shop Cafe Paradiso, a local favorite, which is just a stone’s throw away in an adjacent strip center.

The opening and public opinion on Starbuck’s corporate policies have been hot topics on social media in recent weeks. Tuesday, many locals posted photos of their purchased Starbucks items.

The Vicksburg location will be open six days a week from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is closed Sundays.

Thomas Parker contributed to this story.

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