McBride grows small company to serve national clients

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; A business that began in his father’s garage has grown into a company that has clients nationwide, a proud Jim McBride told state officials and well wishers who gathered Wednesday to celebrate his success.

McBride could not have envisioned in 1987 that the humble origins of his automobile audio shop would grow to such heights. Now, however, he sees only the sky as the limit for JM Digital Printing, already bulging at the seams of its D’Evereux Drive building.

Nick Walters, state director of the Mississippi office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, was proud as a papa. &uot;This is very much what we’re about,&uot; Walters said, as he described the agency’s role in assisting McBride with his company.

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The state USDA office provided a 75 percent loan guarantee to United Mississippi Bank of Natchez in order for McBride in recent months to borrow the money to buy the most up-to-date digital printing equipment available, with a price tag of about $600,000.

Walters said McBride’s project fit exactly the kind of economic and community development project the Rural Development office seeks to assist.

With that equipment, McBride was able to get contracts for big industrial jobs he otherwise could not have managed.

The big break began with the Isle of Capri Casino and Hotel, he said. &uot;When the Isle of Capri was coming into town, we knew they would need a lot of signage,&uot; McBride said. &uot;We met with their marketing department, and they were excited about giving a local vendor a shot at this service.&uot;

Then the corporate office of the company asked McBride to bid on nationwide jobs. &uot;I began to research machines to give us the capability to do the job,&uot; he said. &uot;We placed the bid. We were the low bidder. But we didn’t have the machine. We worked day and night to be able to satisfy our customer. But we needed the new machine.&uot;

That is when he began to seek some advice. Natchez businessman Dan Bland guided McBride to find the right mix of assistance, beginning with the Natchez Adams County Economic Development Authority.

&uot;Jim had a dream but didn’t have the money,&uot; Bland said. &uot;I called Mike Ferdinand, who said we needed help from Rural Development.&uot;

From there, everything fell into place. Walters said the state agency was particularly pleased to help a small business in the Natchez area.

&uot;Since I’ve been at the USDA, this is the first time we’ve done this kind of loan in Southwest Mississippi,&uot; Walters said. &uot;We particularly want to help Southwest Mississippi to retain jobs and to grow new jobs.&uot;

Charlie Joiner, program director for rural business and cooperative service at the state agency, handled the project directly. &uot;We reviewed the business plan and made sure it was going to be a sustainable business,&uot; she said. &uot;We looked at the history of the business and at the future and felt it had great potential.&uot;

A key to the decision to grant the loan guarantee was the character of the businessman, she said. &uot;We looked closely at that, and it was definitely a strong point.&uot;

Banker Chris Hutchins agreed. He handled the loan at United Mississippi. &uot;I’m the lender,&uot; Hutchins said. &uot;I already had served Jim’s banking needs before this project. His work ethic and his desire to grow the business and create new jobs and find new avenues were what we looked at.&uot;