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VOL. 123 | NO. 195 | Monday, October 6, 2008

Growth Continues for Resource Entertainment Group

By Rosalind Guy

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BUSINESS IS GOOD: Resource Entertainment Group has experienced growth recently, thanks in part to the casino industry. The agency’s leadership includes principals Mike Brocato, top left, Howard Stovall, top right, Rollin Riggs, bottom left, and Paul Chandler, bottom right. -- PHOTO BY ROSALIND GUY
“This year, oddly enough, in a down market, I think we’re up 70 to 80 percent and that’s been a variety of things sort of catching at the same time.”
– Howard Stovall
Principal, Resource Entertainment Group

Howard Stovall and Mike Brocato, managing partners at Resource Entertainment Group, said they never imagined they would need to become legal specialists to work in the entertainment industry.

But they have spent the past couple of weeks doing just that. The entertainment services company, which just moved into its new office at 153 Monroe Ave. next to the Cadre building Downtown, recently signed a new client that required the company’s executives to learn about tort law and sovereign immunity among other things.

The client, Pearl River Resort in Philadelphia, Miss., a casino, golf and spa property, wanted to put together a blues festival that would be held this month.

“The client came to us and said, ‘We’d like to do a blues festival in six weeks,’” Stovall recalled. “And we went from nothing. … We needed to do stage, lights, sound, tent, VIP, restrooms, catering, the whole deal; in the space of two weeks we developed an entire plan. … We booked two days of headline entertainment for the stage, so we were able to move pretty quickly on that.”

The final product of all their efforts is the free Blues at the Moon Music Festival that will take place Oct. 17-18 at the Golden Moon Hotel and Casino.

Wide range of services

The festival could be considered an example of the agency’s versatility. What made putting the event together more unique than other projects, Stovall said, was the ownership of Pearl River. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians operates the property.

“It’s their reservation, so a lot of their legal issues are unique and (Stovall) has become an expert on insurance law and tort and all kinds of stuff with regards to dealing with another nation,” said Rollin Riggs, REG senior partner.

Stovall said one of the things he had to inform all the entertainers about was that they would have to accept the Choctaw Tribal Courts as the jurisdiction of record for the contracts they signed.

“We got a lot of questions about exactly why they have to do it and the reason extends well beyond entertainment,” Stovall said. “It’s just a broader issue of sovereign immunity and the preservation of the Choctaw nation’s sovereign immunity. And then we also have to spend a lot of time explaining, from the tort law standpoint, how the Choctaw nation’s law essentially mirrors that of Mississippi, but it remains a separate court system.”

Casinos bring growth

Pearl River Resort is just one of many new clients for the agency, which is experiencing a growth spurt of sorts. It’s that growth in clients that led the agency to outgrow its former space in the basement of the Cadre building.

The agency still is getting settled into the new space off Monroe Avenue, which it moved into a couple of weeks ago.

The partners said they have experienced steady growth in their client base since forming the firm five years ago.

“We had a big jump in growth the first couple of years,” Stovall said. “Because the way our business works, we may

book a deal today for July of next year, so it actually hits the books today. And when we all merged, we all had stuff in the pipeline that we had to work through. Now, we have dates booked out to the summer of 2009.

“For a while it was just sort of digesting that increased pipeline, but we were looking at growth those first couple of years of at least 20 to 30 percent a year. And then this year, oddly enough, in a down market, I think we’re up 70 to 80 percent and that’s been a variety of things sort of catching at the same time.”

The biggest factor contributing to the growth may well be the casinos, which make up a large portion of the company’s business.

“What we’ve realized is that with this turmoil that has hit the market, that the casino business is a lot safer in many ways than the corporate market,” Riggs said. “We’ve seen entire companies vanish in the last two weeks. We certainly are going to see a lot of companies scale back on the big types of events, but the casinos have a tendency to keep chugging along.”

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