Welcome to the debut of a new pop-up Best of Jackson winners' list: Business Services. This inaugural spread spotlights a number of local businesses in the area that specialize in helping other businesses run more smoothly, as well as assisting individuals with similar needs. We applaud these very necessary community leaders in a tough time for businesses.
Best Accountant/CPA; Best CPA or Accounting Firm; Best Payroll Service: Natasha McLaurin; Midstate Financial Group
(400 Highway 51 N., Suite F, Ridgeland; 601-552-8800; midstatefinancials.com)
Founded in 2014, the Midstate Financial Group in Ridgeland handles everything from back-office functions like payroll management and bookkeeping to full-service business accounting, all while aiming to help clients solve their problems through personalized service.
Natasha McLaurin, the company's current president, has been with the company since it was founded, having also served as an insurance broker and a licensed tax professional in her six-year tenure. McLaurin graduated with a degree in business administration from Jackson State University in 2005 and combines that education with almost nine years' experience in health-compliance and insurance-claims roles.
"I love learning and growing my business," McLaurin says of her position. "I take time and work with my clients, I don't just do their taxes I try to explain every step I take and work with them so that they're on the same page as me. I think they really appreciate that effort, and it's something I love to do."
As explained on the business' website, Midstate strives to help solve financial problems both today and down the road, handling the issue at hand and implementing measures to keep those problems in check. For instance, tax specialists not only prepare business tax returns; they also provide long-term plans that manage tax burdens. Midstate not only diagnoses and remedies payroll issues, but also represents clients and helps them restructure systems to better suit them and their employees in the future.
McLaurin asserts that her favorite aspects of her job include "getting to meet new people, learning new things about the tax profession and learning how to apply them to everyday situations," she says.
A self-described "people person," she also attributes a portion of her appreciation for her work to Midstate operating in the Jackson metro. "I love the location and community we have here," McLaurin says. "Word-of-mouth is great, and of course, I love the people." —Sarah Kate Pollard, Kyle Hamrick
Finalists: Carolyn Wakefield (6045 Ridgewood Road, Suite F, 601-957-0073) / Conrad Ebner (TEC Partners LLP, 217 Draperton Drive, Ridgeland, 601-605-4842) / Kevin Lightheart (Lightheart, Sanders and Associates; 116 One Madison Plaza, Suite 1200, Madison; 601-898-2727; lsacpafirm.com) / Phillip Parker (Parker & Associates CPAs PLLC, 355 Edgewood Terrace Drive, 601-982-5341, parkcpa.com)
Best CPA or Accounting Firm
Finalists: Lightheart Sanders (116 One Madison Plaza, Suite 1200, Madison; 601-898-2727; lsacpafirm.com) / Parker & Associates (355 Edgewood Terrace Drive, 601-982-5341, parkcpa.com) / TEC Partners (217 Draperton Drive, Ridgeland, 601-605-4842) / Windham & Lacey (2708 Old Brandon Road, Pearl; 601-939-8676; 219 N. Jackson St.; 601-892-4001; windhamandlacey.com)
Best Payroll Service
Finalists: Pay Pros of Mississippi (210 Industrial Drive, Suite 2, Ridgeland, 601-607-7801, payprosms.com) / People Lease (Account Services Group) (689 Towne Center Blvd., Suite B, Ridgeland; 800-723-3025; peoplelease.com) / Personnel Plus (404 Legacy Park, Ridgeland, 601-206-1620, personnelplusms.com) / Watkins & Company (436 Katherine Drive, Suite 100, Flowood; 601-935-9288; watkinsandco.com)
Best Recruiter/Employment Agency: TempStaff
(962 North St., 601-353-4200; 164 Watford Parkway Drive, Canton; 601-859-8860; 608 Delaware Avenue, McComb; 601-250-080; tempstaff.net)
Since 1981, TempStaff has placed approximately 4,000 people per year in jobs across central Mississippi, relying on a reputation of diligence and excellence honed by decades working in the Jackson metro area.
Carolyn Boteler, CSP, who has served as president and CEO since 1991, says her staff's longevity and focus on relationships gives TempStaff its edge. "Our staff really get to know our customers," she said, adding that company's goal is to create partnerships. Those partnerships are maintained by recruiters with more than five years' experience at the company, which, Boteler says, "makes a big difference for our customers because they aren't having to adjust to a new person."
Motivated by a belief that every person is made to fill a particular job, Boteler and her staff work with employers and job-seekers to fill vacancies in administrative, professional and industrial positions with the candidates they find that best match the jobs' qualifications.
She says she is proud of her team's work and hopes to expand TempStaff's reputation as central Mississippi's premier staffing agency as the company enters its 40th year.
The business' philosophy, "A Personal Touch to Employment Staffing," resonates with the customer service it aims to uphold day after day, with both employers and those seeking jobs alike.
A member of the American Staffing Association and a regular winner of ClearlyRated's Best of Staffing Client Satisfaction Diamond Award, TempStaff has offices in Jackson, Canton and McComb.
Since 2014, TempStaff has donated more $20,000 to area organizations, and staff members hold leadership roles in several local civic and business organizations. —Kyle Hamrick
Finalists: Capitol Staffing (661 Sunnybrook Road, Suite 110, Ridgeland; 601-957-1755; capitolstaffing.com) / Express Employment Professionals (4220 Lakeland Drive, Suite D, Flowood; 601-355-7000; expresspros.com) / Kinetic Staffing (4266 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, Suite 102, 601-362-4545, kineticstaffing.com) / Professional Staffing Group (2475 Lakeland Drive, Suite C, Flowood; 601-981-1658; prostaffgroup.com)
Best HR/Benefits Provider:
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi
(3545 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-664-4590, bcbsms.com)
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, in addition to providing health insurance to individuals, partners with businesses to provide comprehensive health-care plans to employees and their families.
When it comes to health care, Blue Cross & Blue Shield adopts a holistic approach, encouraging individuals and employers to personal wellness and healthy living, the business' website explains.
This philosophy of prevention aims to inspire employees and employers to lead lives that are more active and to better manage any preexisting health conditions.
The Flowood-based location offers coverage plans for individuals and businesses alike. The Blue Care plan covers individuals between the ages of 21 and 65, whereas the Blue Care for Kids plan covers individuals under the 21 years of age. Employers can choose plans for either small groups (between two and 50 employees) or large groups (more than 50 employees).
Through the Blue Primary Care Home network, employees experience medical care that supports them in managing conditions and preventing disease. Benefits designed to maintain health, like wellness coaches, are available at no extra cost to plan members. The Utilization Review Accreditation Commission, a nonprofit body focused on quality health-care management, accredits the benefits programs offered by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, ensuring coverage meets members' needs. —Kyle Hamrick
Finalists: EBS (PO Box 13749, 601-353-0002, ebsincms.com) / Midstate Financial (400 Highway 51 N., Suite F, Ridgeland; 601-552-8800; midstatefinancials.com) / People Lease (Account Services Group) (689 Towne Center Blvd., Suite B, Ridgeland; 800-723-3025; peoplelease.com) / Ross & Yerger (100 Vision Drive, Suite 100, 601-948-2900, rossandyerger.com)
Best Business Insurance Firm: Porter's Insurance Agency
(1020 University Blvd., 601-355-8471, portersinsurance.com)
In 1983, Richard J. Porter founded Porter's Insurance Agency, and throughout the 37 years since then the company has continually served the insurance-related needs of numerous individuals, families and businesses within Hinds County and neighboring areas.
Expressing gratitude toward her late father for starting the business, Lotoya Porter credits the Jackson metro for cultivating the passion she holds for the work she does as the company's vice president, a position she has held since 2006.
"Jackson is my hometown, so it's always great to give to the community that raised me," she says. "I love to help my community and always find new things they need help with and help. Just the solidarity of Jackson means a lot to me. It's a great place to live and raise a family."
Insurance services offered include personal and business coverage, as well as financial planning. Something that sets Porter's Insurance Agency apart, Porter explains, is that it is a small, minority- and women-owned and operated business.
"We're able to have a closeness with our clients that bigger firms can't and don't offer," she claims. "Most of our clients are like our family." —Sarah Kate Pollard
Finalists: Account Services Group (689 Towne Center Drive, Suite A, Ridgeland; 601-981-3663; accountservicesgroup.com) / Midstate Financial Group (400 Highway 51 N., Suite F, Ridgeland; 601-552-8800; midstatefinancials.com) / Profound Agency (407 Briarwood Drive, Suite 220B, 601-566-1572, profoundagencyllc.com) / Ross & Yerger (100 Vision Drive, Suite 100, 601-948-2900, rossandyerger.com) / SouthGroup (795 Woodlands Parkway, Suite 101, Ridgeland; 601-914-3220; southgroup.net)
Best IT/Tech Services: Fuse Cloud
(175 E. Capitol St., Suite 500, 601-926-6000, fuse.cloud)
Whatever your nonprofit's or company's field of business, Fuse Cloud—a local technology provider based in downtown Jackson that Gary Watts opened in 2006—aspires to resolve a number of common tech-related concerns.
Through voiceover IP technology, Fuse Cloud's phone services allow businesses to answer work calls on a cell phone or laptop, connect multiple campuses or a distributed workforce, or set up an auto attendant with a variety of smart features.
Fuse Cloud tackles bandwidth challenges with fiber internet, which can accommodate a high number of devices, among other perks. Because Fuse Cloud maintains relationships with over a dozen leading fiber carriers, the company asserts that it can find a connection that best fits each client's location and needs, the provider's website says.
What's more, if any of your company devices act awry, Fuse Cloud's IT specialists are on standby to help. In addition, the provider's Managed IT department can also inventory a business' PCs and network devices; install new software for remote management and cybersecurity; gather email hosting, data backup and network monitoring under one umbrella; and more. —Nate Schumann
Finalists: BeCloud LLC (653 N. State St., 769-218-8318, becloudit.com) / Extraordinary Business Solutions (501 W. County Line Road, Tougaloo; 601-543-9600, extraordinarysolutions.biz) / Home Theatre Solutions, LLC (125 Fairmont Plaza, Pearl, 601-622-9208, hts601.com) / InCare 360 (193 Business Park Drive, Suite C, Ridgeland; 601-956-8909, incaretechnologies.com) / US Next (6360 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, Suite 210, 601-956-4770, usnx.com)