‚ÄúLike its namesake, The Montgomery Institute has opted to stay the course and do things ‚ÄėSonny‚Äôs way‚Äô by building relationships, attracting resources, and doing innovative things that make a difference for this region,‚ÄĚ said Dr. Mack Portera, chancellor of the University of Alabama System.
He was one of several dignitaries helping the Meridian-based regional organization celebrate its 10th anniversary, while also saluting the legacy of its namesake, the late Congressman G. V. ‚ÄúSonny‚ÄĚ Montgomery.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs almost been five years since Sonny left us,‚ÄĚ said Dr. Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University and host of the event at the MSU Riley Center. ‚ÄúBut I guarantee you he would be very pleased to see how far the institute to which his name belongs has come. Sonny always supported the mission of this institution to uplift and serve East Mississippi and West Alabama.‚ÄĚ
‚Äú‚ÄôSonny‚Äôs way‚Äô would be one filled with love and passion, energy, determination, and respect for all,‚ÄĚ¬†said former U.S. Senator Trent Lott, master of ceremonies for the event.
‚ÄúWhatever it took, however long it took until he got the job done, that was Sonny‚Äôs way,‚ÄĚ said Major General Bill Freeman, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard and a former Institute board member.
Speaking of the regional mayors meeting sponsored quarterly by the Institute, Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry said, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs about building partnerships and that was what Sonny Montgomery was about.‚ÄĚ
Portera, who framed the Institute‚Äôs program of work when it was created by The Riley Foundation in 2001, highlighted the two Innovator Awards given the Institute in 2003 and 2010 by the Southern Growth Policies Board. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs no small achievement in my opinion,‚ÄĚ he said.¬† Portera also noted the return on investment achieved by the Institute. ‚ÄúFor every dollar invested in this Institute, it generates $12.40 of additional leverage for this region.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWe pledge to continue to adhere to Sonny‚Äôs legacy and persist in serving this region, Sonny‚Äôs region,‚ÄĚ said C.D. Smith, chairman of the Institute‚Äôs board of directors.