TMI Celebrates 10 Years of “Doing Things Sonny’s Way”

“Like its namesake, The Montgomery Institute has opted to stay the course and do things ‘Sonny’s way’ by building relationships, attracting resources, and doing innovative things that make a difference for this region,” 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. “Sonny” Montgomery.


“It’s almost been five years since Sonny left us,” said Dr. Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University and host of the event at the MSU Riley Center. “But 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.”


“’Sonny’s way’ would be one filled with love and passion, energy, determination, and respect for all,” said former U.S. Senator Trent Lott, master of ceremonies for the event.


“Whatever it took, however long it took until he got the job done, that was Sonny’s way,” 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, “It’s about building partnerships and that was what Sonny Montgomery was about.”


Portera, who framed the Institute’s 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. “That’s no small achievement in my opinion,” he said.  Portera also noted the return on investment achieved by the Institute. “For every dollar invested in this Institute, it generates $12.40 of additional leverage for this region.”


“We pledge to continue to adhere to Sonny’s legacy and persist in serving this region, Sonny’s region,” said C.D. Smith, chairman of the Institute’s board of directors.