January 11, 2016 Rotogram: 23

Rotary Classic Rodeo

The annual Rotary Classic Rodeo on February 12 and 13 is our major fund raiser, providing the money for our community service. Today, Rodeo Committee members explain how the event works and how Rotarians can serve.

For the Record—January 4

Invocation and Pledge:            Giles Lindley

Attendance:                                         74.8%

Present — 120 (39 exempt)

Absent — 60 (18 exempt, 12 honorary)

Guests: Member guests were Giles Jones of Briar Jones, Gene Jones of Don Trotter, Caitlin Rackley of Gathian Wells and Sally Whiteside of Bob Whiteside. Guests of the club were Jamie Bachman, Benedetta Trentarossi, RYE student, and Alex Onken, Starkville Daily News.

New Moms Supply Drive

Community Service Chair Carrie-Beth Randall has challenged members to bring supplies to support Emerson Family School’s New Moms Program.

Items may be brought to our January 25 Rotary meeting. Other drop-off locations include the GSDP, Volunteer Starkville, MSU Maroon Volunteer Center and the Emerson Family Resource Center.

The community-wide drive kicks off with the MLK Day of Service which seeks to “empower individuals, strengthen communities, create solutions to social problems and move closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community.”

Volunteer Starkville

Jamie Bachman, executive director of Volunteer Starkville, accepted our donation of $350. She said the funds would be used for tools, such as rakes and hedge trimmers, for volunteer days of service. The mission is to “serve as a clearing house for volunteerism striving to increase volunteer engagement.”

Paul Harris Recognitions Continue

Bob and Sally Whiteside were recognized as he presented her with a Paul Harris Fellowship on the occasion of their 17th anniversary.

Members are reminded that they may honor others with fellowships by using PHF points accrued along with their regular contributions.

Plan to Attend the District Conference

Rotary at the Renaissance will be at the Embassy Suites in Ridgeland on April 21-23. District Governor Barbara Travis said the Thursday afternoon through Saturday afternoon district conference is streamlined to encourage more rank-and-file member participation.

Economic Development in Mississippi’s College Town

January 4 — Community branding and regional economic development are the hallmarks of the 15-year-old Greater Starkville Development Partnership.

Rotarian Jennifer Gregory explained that, although the organization has changed greatly since its inception, it remains committed to its basic mission. The GSDP aims to “promote a healthy and sustainable Starkville and Oktibbeha County by enhancing the quality of life for all citizens through business growth and job creation, tourism and retirement opportunities, and progressive educational and community initiatives.”

Over the years, it has combined the Starkville Area Chamber of Commerce, Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority, Starkville Visitors and Convention Council, and Starkville Main Street Association.

A five member staff works with five boards of directors for the Partnership, OCEDA, the CVB, Starkville Main Street and the Starkville Community Market.

Private investments account for 46 percent of GSDP funding. The VCC contract provides 30 percent. And, the OCEDA contract yields 21 percent.

Key to tourism promotion and development is the two percent food and beverage tax that is divided among Parks and Recreation, MSU Student Affairs, OCEDA, the VCC and the city.

Gregory illustrated the economic impact of tourism saying it grew from $59,800,000 in 2009 to $80,860,000 in 2012. Over the same span, city sales tax collections grew from $5,129,757 to $5,641,598.

Starkville is becoming a culinary destination with more restaurants per capita than any other Mississippi city. It has been named to the top five best cities in America to open a restaurant.

The Fall’s Pumpkinpalooza brings crowds of more than 9,000 providing downtown retailers with record sales during late-night shopping.

Voted “Best in Mississippi” by Mississippi Magazine in 2014 and 2015,             the Starkville Community Market averages 1,000 shoppers per week. A Certified Farmer’s Market, it provides local food for residents and restaurants.

Rotarian Steve Langston, immediate past chair of the GSDP, said the biggest economic development change had come when Starkville and Oktibbeha County adopted a regional approach by joining the Golden Triangle Development LINK. The Partnership invests $100,000 in the effort annually. The county and OCEDA make like contributions. And, the city provides $50,000.

He explained the importance of industrial development saying the top benefit is jobs. Development enhances tax revenue for the city and county, and for the school system. When industries contribute more to the tax base, pressure on citizens to pay for services is reduced.

“For every dollar the city collects in residential tax, it spends four dollars,” said Langston. “For every four dollars it collects from industry, it spends one dollar.”

Noting the aborted attempt to start a new industrial park, he said that the next effort will include a before-the-fact cultural survey. The recent attempt was thwarted by the discovery of significant archaeological artifacts.

Prospects for the Cornerstone Industrial Park west of Starkville are looking up.

The 500 member Starkville Area Chamber of Commerce serves small businesses, industries, educational institutions and non-profit organizations. Chamber activities include Project CLASS: Community Leaders Assisting Schools for Success, Get Swept Up!, and Business After Hours.

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