BATESVILLE, MS (January 11, 2017) – On Monday, January 9, 2017, the executive board of the Panola Partnership unanimously voted to offer the Director of Economic Development position to current executive board member Joe Azar.
Azar has served on the Panola Partnership executive board for the past 6 years, and was scheduled to roll off this March. His first day in the office will be Tuesday, January 17th, due to the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Joe Azar was born and raised in Greenville, MS. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. He returned to the Delta to own and operate uniquely successful convenience stores called The Barn. At the same time, he also owned and operated one of the state’s largest music production companies.
Joe later moved to Nashville where he worked in the music industry as a personal artist manager for 16 years, of which during this time, met his wife to be, Katie, who co-managed their clients.
Azar attended post-graduate instruction from Belmont University’s School of Music Business. He co-founded Azar Entertainment and Dang Records. He managed recording artist Steve Azar, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, the original Crickets, The Outfield, Hank Williams III, Brady Seals of Little Texas, Jessica Andrews and several others.
Joe negotiated recording agreements with major record labels; publishing deals; tours with agents, promoters, CMT and GAC, and multi-million dollar tour sponsorships with companies such as Jim Beam and ExxonMobil for his artists. Joe and his wife and children moved to Panola County in 2007 to work as the operations and general manager of Mississippi Distributors, Inc. in Batesville. After 2 years of an extensive business curriculum with Anheuser-Busch University, Azar became a successor manager to the local Anheuser-Busch wholesalership.
In 2012, he negotiated the sale of Mississippi Distributors to Southern Beverage Company of Jackson, MS, securing that 50 jobs would remain in Panola County. He became the Branch Manager and Equity Agreement Manager of Southern Beverage Company. During his time, he successfully recruited RedBull and many other strong suppliers for his company, leaving Batesville’s operation in 2016 with the leading portfolio in the state. For the past nine years, Joe also represented his company’s beverage delegation by visiting elected officials at our federal and state capitols.
The Azars have made Panola County their home. Katie immediately joined Junior Auxiliary and later became chapter president. Joe’s list of community involvement includes the following:
Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, Executive Board
2013-Present, currently Vice Chairman, past Secretary, serving on finance and chairing the governance committee
2012 recipient of The President’s Volunteer Service Award for Panola County, MS
St. Mary’s / St. John’s Catholic Community Parish Council
2011 – Present; President 2012 – Present
Panola Partnership, Executive Board
2011 – Present; President 2014-2015, finance committee 2012–2016
North Delta Academy School Board
2011 – Present, Fundraising committee 2012-2016, Technology committee 2016
2010 – Present
Main Street, Executive Board
2009 – Present; Economic Development Chair 2010-2012, President 2012-2013,
Founding member of the Batesville Mississippi Farmers Market
Panola County Community Foundation, Executive Board
Member 2009 – Present; Fundraiser Committee Chair 2010-2012, Currently President
Mississippi Malt Beverage Association
2007 – 2015; Finance Committee 2008-2013
St. Cecilia Foundation, Executive Board
2003 – Present
4th Degree Knights of Columbus
1983 – Present, currently Trustee
Country Music Association
1991 – 2007