On Oct. 3, Mississippi Top50 announced that Suresh Chawla was selected as one of the 50 most influential Mississippians in the state.
Chawla, who is President of Chawla Hotels, was chosen as one of 12 winners in the “Business, Culture and Media” category. Mississippi Top50 is an annual recognition of people judged to be the most influential leaders in Mississippi.
“Suresh is one of the most well-known business owners through the Mississippi Delta,” Alan Lange, Director, Mississippi Top50 said in a release. “His family and their businesses are fixtures in Delta communities.”
Chawla, whose company has gained national attention in recent months, has been a fixture in Mississippi Delta business for years.
“To see the others that have been selected this year makes being selected for this award a great honor,” Chawla said. "My late father convinced me to stay in the Mississippi Delta and work hard. He would be very proud."
The hospitality industry has only grown in importance over the past decade in Mississippi, as the state has ramped up efforts to increase tourism, particularly along the Blues Trail, which has multiple sites and museums in the Delta, including Indianola’s B.B. King Museum & Delta Cultural Center.
“It wasn’t a surprise to see him (Chawla) nominated and he certainly deserves this distinction as one of the top fifty Mississippians who can impact the direction of our state,” said Lange.
Lange called the Millsaps College alumnus a ceaseless force of energy. Chawla owns and operates 17 hotels in the Mississippi Delta and has been involved in leadership positions with economic development and chamber of commerce groups throughout the Delta and other advisory board positions.
Mississippi Top50 is a second-year bipartisan group and its selection of leaders consists of elected and appointed officials, economic development professionals, business, media and government affairs.
In addition to the Business, Culture and Media category, other categories include “Lobbying/Government Relations” and “Elected/Appointed Officials.” Last year Senator Thad Cochran and former Governor William Winter were named to the Top50 Hall of Fame. This year’s designees to the Hall of Fame are former Governor Haley Barbour and state Representative Steve Holland. They will be honored at an event on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Old Capitol Inn in Jackson.
The awards are sponsored by Y’all Politics and SuperTalk Mississippi and awardees were nominated through an open process.