WCU and the ADP established the Small Business Leadership Award in 1990 to recognize the important contributions small businesses make to the economic, social, and cultural life of the community and the particular achievements of one individual or family. The award is given in memory of Dr. Joe Roberts, former professor of communication at William Carey University. Dr. Roberts was also a successful businessman and one of the founders of Aycock-Roberts Furniture.
The award recipients are jointly chosen by WCU and the ADP. The individual or family must own or manage a business that meets the criteria established by the two organizations and must participate at the highest level of community service. The winner must also reflect Judeo-Christian values.
CR Properties, founded by brothers Rob and Craig Tatum, is a Hattiesburg real estate development company with a diverse portfolio and extensive expertise in acquisition, redevelopment and construction of modern multi-family apartment homes, luxury condominiums, eclectic upscale properties for mixed-use development and resort-style senior living and assisted care communities. Being good stewards of their Hattiesburg community is their passion – and they take every opportunity to put their expertise to work for the city they cherish.
Robert O. Tatum Jr. is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Mississippi where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with an emphasis in managerial finance and investment analysis. After graduating from Ole Miss, he worked for two years at Trustmark National Bank as a senior credit analyst. From there, he attended the AB Freeman School of Business at Tulane University where he received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis in finance and management, graduating as a Beta Gamma Sigma member. Since graduating from Tulane, he has been a principal in the development and ownership of more than 1,400 apartment rental units and more than 850 senior living units, in addition to several mixed use developments over the last 12 years. In addition to his work in real estate development, Tatum sits on the board of directors of his family businesses, which include The Merchants Company and Mississippi Tank Company. He also sits on the advisory board of Trustmark National Bank in Hattiesburg. Tatum has served as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church; he also serves on the executive board of the Area Development Partnership (ADP) and sat on the board of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association. He recently joined the board of the Midtown Merchants Association. Tatum and his wife, Shay, have three daughters, Addison, Rhodes, and Ann Frances, and one son, Luke, and reside in Hattiesburg.
Craig Tatum attended Mississippi State University on a baseball scholarship and majored in banking and finance. In 2004 he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the Major League Baseball Draft. He played three years in the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles. During these times he worked with Rob Tatum in the offseason, and when he retired in 2012 he came to work beside his brother and start a new career in real estate. His first venture as a partner was with the Hub City Lofts – two historic buildings that were converted into 52 lofts and nine retail spots in downtown Hattiesburg. Tatum is active in the day-to-day operations of all assets owned by CR Properties. He and his wife, Daniele, have three children, Lanier, Bo, and Reeves and they live in Hattiesburg.
WCU student Misty Trosclair of Hattiesburg received the Richard “Pepper” Jones Endowed Scholarship. She is business administration major from Hattiesburg. Sarah Clark, a cross cultural business management major from Hattiesburg, and Kevin Craft, a business administration major from Hattiesburg, also received scholarships.