Toni Cooley was born in Chicopee, Mass., but was raised as an Air Force brat in Massachusetts, North Dakota, New Jersey, Mississippi and New Jersey again.
"When asked, however, I always say I am a Mississippian," Cooley says. "I have lived in some great places—Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Minn., Atlanta, St. Louis—but I have the greatest ties to Mississippi. It's the nation's best-kept secret."
The "40-something" Cooley is president of Systems Electro Coating, a Madison-based company that helps automotive and industrial companies preserve metal parts with a rust-proof coating. They also re-use their paint and chemicals by putting them through a treatment system. "Our plant's (waste-water treatment) system protects the environment, extracting the paint and chemicals from the electro coating system waste and reintroducing those items back into the e-coat system process," Cooley says. The company works extensively with the Nissan plant in Canton.
Cooley's expertise is not limited to the industrial field. After graduating from St. Joseph High School ("it was in Jackson then," she says), Cooley earned her undergraduate degree in business administration from Stephens College and her law degree from the University of Minnesota. She then moved to Atlanta to work in the international contracts division of Turner International. Cooley sensed that no advancement opportunities would be coming up soon, so when her dad asked her to come back to Jackson to go into business with him, she was ready. Cooley's mother joined the pair in business a few years later.
In addition to Systems Electro Coating, Cooley is also president of New Horizons Computer Learning Center in Jackson, which gives employees information technology skills, and of Systems Consultants in West Jackson, which "helps communities move their unemployed, non-college bound youth population into productive, employable young adults through various job-training opportunities," as Cooley explains it.
"I live in Northwest Jackson," Cooley says. "I am a staunch advocate for Jackson. However, I am also very supportive of the metro area," which is why Cooley and her family's businesses are located in both Madison and Jackson proper.
"I want to see more brick and mortar owned by diverse Jackson constituents who reside in all quadrants of the city," Cooley says, "from neighborhoods in West Jackson and Lake Hico to Northeast Jackson near Old Canton Road to South Jackson's Terry Road and beyond. ... I want an improved quality of life (and) thriving economies in all our neighborhoods."
One of the most intelligent and nicest woman you will meet. Glad you profiled Toni. Her parents are winners, too!