t may be a case of not seeing the forest for the trees.

We are so used to Sugaree’s Bakery being a part of downtown New Albany that it may be difficult to think of it as a $1.5-million nationwide business.

That’s what it is, though, and partly why the Mississippi Small Business Administration honored owner Mary Jennifer Russell as Small Business Person of the Year for 2017.

Starting out with $200 and working at home, she has seen her company grow to 30 employees supporting retail, wholesale and mail-order sales. She reportedly has plans to expand even more with a new building now in the design phase beside the Tallahatchie River Bridge.

She should be credited for creating a good product, then adding savvy marketing and management, and throwing in a good mix of community involvement.

It may be a small point, but Russell is also quick to credit her employees and family with her success.

New Albany is blessed with other well-known businesses that draw customers from a large regions, but perhaps none has the range of recognition Sugaree’s sees.

New Albany is probably better known as the home of Sugaree’s than for having a Toyota production facility right down the road.

We may note, with some selfishness, that in addition to bringing success to Sugaree’s Russell has had a marked effect on tourism and retail sales for the community as a whole. People come from considerable distances to buy Sugaree’s confections and they nearly always spend additional money with local restaurants and retailers. They also help spread the word to friends about the welcome they received and the warmth of the community’s atmosphere.

So we join in congratulations to Sugaree’s and Mary Jennifer Russell and are proud to have them as a part of the community.

We wish for them continued success and look forward eagerly to see what form and direction they take next.

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