The Cotton District
Developer Dan Camp will outline new projects underway or planned for Starkville’s Cotton District. He will be introduced by George Sherman.
Next Week: Economic Development
Brent Christensen, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, will discuss his agency. He will be introduced by Stuart Vance.
For the Record—July 8
Invocation and Pledge: Jim Ormon
Present — 98 (32 exempt, 1 honorary)
Absent — 79 (12 exempt, 10 honorary)
Makeup reported:Gary Jackson in Winona.
Guests:Visiting Rotarian Prentiss Gordon, Jr. joined his father. Member guests were Eddie Lewis of Dora Herring, Jan Zeppelin of Michelle Amos, Joel Downey of Peggy Buckley and Ted Roman of Dennis Bock. Outbound RYE student Kristina Berch and her mother Lynn were guests of the Club.
President Brent gave a kudos to Thomas Pounds for his mentoring with Project AIM that was covered in the Starkville Daily News.
Youth Exchange Needs Hosts
We need host families for our new RYE student, who arrives around August 1 for her year with us. The 16-year-old girl is sponsored by the Emmerich-Rees Rotary Club (D 1870).
Please suggest potential host families to Keith or Debra so they can make contacts.
Gute Reise, Kristina — Rotary Youth Exchange student Kristina Berch leaves for Germany on July 23. Our inbound student Philippa Romen-Naegel arrives on August 1.
Trish Cunetto, MSU College of Education development officer, has been proposed for membership by Sandra Harpole. The former Starkville public schools teacher’s classification is Education.
Meet a New Member
Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development Partnership chief executive officer, noted that three of her bosses were seated at the head table.
The Birmingham native has worked with the Partnership for four years since graduating from MSU in marketing. A graduate of Northwest Rankin High School, she and her husband Bart have three children.
The board has accepted with regret the resignation of Marcus Grant who has taken a coaching job at Troy State University.
Austin Shafer has been reclassified to Banking: Business Development.
Debra Hicks has been reclassified to Research Security.
Club Web Site
The correct address for our Web site is starkvillerotary.org. We have had some confusion because of problems with the .com site.
Annual Planning Meeting
Board officers and committee chairs meet this evening to review the year’s plans. Past President Larry Mullins hosts the group at his home at 6:30.
Economic Development is about Industry and Community
July 8 — Starkville and Oktibbeha County’s joining the Golden Triangle Development LINK has allowed the community to compete for more projects in six months than in all of the last 30 years according to Steve Langston, chair of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership.
Introducing Joey Deason, chief operating officer of the LINK and vice president of Economic Development for Starkville and Oktibbeha County, Langston explained how the current development efforts have evolved.
The Partnership formed in 2001 by combining the Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority. Langston said that just as cost savings and management came from that move, joining the LINK with Clay and Lowndes Counties has vastly increased industry recruitment competiveness.
“Economic development takes both industry and community development. In Starkville, the community side is more important than in most cities due to the university’s presence. It’s the state’s largest industry outside of Ingalls on the coast,” said Langston. “It’s absolutely critical for the town to present itself in a light that helps recruit students, faculty and high tech industry.”
He explained that the city has set sales tax income records even in the economic downturn. That accomplishment came even with the loss of new car dealers which account for the largest sales tax in any community.
One-third of the city budget derives from sales tax. One percent out of the state’s seven percent tax charges returns to municipalities. However, counties do not get any of the sales tax
“What can you talk about when you talk about economic development?” said Deason. “Nine times out of ten, you can’t talk about the projects that you’re working on.”
However, he can talk about the process. In his four years at the Mississippi Development Authority he was very involved in recruiting American Eurocopter, Severstal and Paccar to the area.
“In the old days, you had a lot of jobs and a little bit of capital. Now, it’s the other way around,” he said.
To illustrate the power of regional cooperation, Deason explained that Project Triathlon that was to become the Yokohama Tire Plant originally had focused on Oktibbeha County. When it became evident that the county did not have the company’s specialized water and sewer needs, development officials got the proposal switched to Clay County.
The $1.2 billion four phase project that will bring 2,000 jobs was attracted to the three million gallons capacity water and sewer infrastructure that had developed for Bryan Foods. The plant’s 570 acre site is northeast of West Point. At about five million square feet, its footprint equals Toyota, Paccar, Severstal and American Eurocopter area combined on one site.
He announced that Yokohama has just signed a two-year lease in the Thad Cochran Park Industry Partners building. Fifty to 70 company professionals will be there. Beyond that time, it wants to keep a connection with the MSU Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems.
Illustrating the importance of community in recruiting, he noted that the lead Japanese onsite executive stayed behind check out the area after the chairman’s visit.
“Starkville presented itself extremely well, he said. “One small but telling example is the Asian food store owner came in on her day off and spent 45 minutes with the official.”
The other project that he mentioned is The Mill on Russell Street. It now has an estimated $100 million investment in a convention center, hotel and parking. It is expected to account for about 130 jobs.
“It’s been around a long time and was much larger before the recession,” said Deason. “After a few more hurdles, we hope to see some construction this fall.”
“In the past two weeks, we have had inquiries about projects totaling $100 million and 700 jobs,” he said. “We’re also working with big box retailers that would bring 68,000 to 100,000 square feet of space. And there are health care projects for independent living, assisted living and full time care. “