Author Archives: Colin Krieger

Navistar Defense Adding 500 Jobs, Investing in West Point Facility

WEST POINT, MS – Courtesy of the GTR LINK

Military vehicle manufacturer Navistar Defense, LLC has announced that they will be expanding their facilities and their business operations in West Point, where they have had a local presence since 2005. As part of this project, they will be adding five hundred local, full-time jobs by 2024. Navistar is headquartered in Illinois.

“Job creation is critical to building strong economies throughout Mississippi. The addition of 500 new jobs at Navistar Defense’s facility in West Point is reflective of Mississippi’s outstanding capacity and workforce talent within the defense industry,” said MDA Interim Executive Director John Rounsaville. “We appreciate the collaboration between MDA, the Golden Triangle Development LINK, Clay County, the city of West Point and TVA, which has proven invaluable as we’ve worked to bring this project to fruition.”

They are currently accepting applications for these positions. Please click the link below for more information, as well as how to apply:

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Get Your Hair Done and Grab a Snack

GOLDEN TRIANGLE REGION, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch


Magnolia Hair Studio at 102 S. Lafayette St., recently opened its doors. Owner Sarah Dempsey, a veteran stylist, recently moved back to Starkville from Laurel: “We missed the Starkville atmosphere and moved back to raise our two kids,” Dempsey said. “I came full circle opening my own salon back off Main Street.” Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. -5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Popcorn shop The Pop Porium, 119 E. Main St., is reopening next Wednesday, having been temporarily shuttered due to the Coronavirus.


Matt Bogue of Dutch Oil in front of Leigh Mall reports that they are working on repairing the structure in order to try and get it back into shape: “It had giant holes and leaking roof, so we pulled the rotting roof out and stripped the inside,” Bogue said. “We also dug up the big fuel tanks that have out-serviced for years. That’s really all we’ve done. It’s not part of any major, master plan. It’s simply trying to get it back into decent shape because it has fallen into such disrepair.”

Everything old is new again, which means progress for our local entrepreneurs — and THAT’S Good for Business!

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Bookworms, Rejoice!

The Book Mart & Cafe (and Bully shop, an MSU merch store) on Main Street in Starkville has partnered with the recently-created Thrive Strategy and Consulting, one of whose founders is a Starkville native. While in-person business has been down, the collaborators have been working on ways to expand Book Mart’s online presence, so as to allow people to browse their wares from anywhere they please. Book Mart owner Carolyn Abadie remarked that “People are coming in and buying things…It’s just a lot different.”

The Book Mart & Cafe (and Bully shop, an MSU merch store) on Main Street in Starkville has partnered with the recently-created Thrive Strategy and Consulting, one of whose founders is a Starkville native. While in-person business has been down, the collaborators have been working on ways to expand Book Mart’s online presence, so as to allow people to browse their wares from anywhere they please. Book Mart owner Carolyn Abadie remarked that “People are coming in and buying things. .It’s just a lot different.”

Photo: From left, Carolyn Abadie, the owner of Book Mart & Cafe, and Hannah Jian discuss the details of creating an online platform for Book Mart & Cafe to sell books on Friday in Starkville.
Claire Hassler, Dispatch Staff

“We have resources,” Hannah Jian of Thrive said. “We have expertise that we think can actually translate to real help for small businesses in our communities.” The two ladies met up in June to discuss ways to move forward, and they had a solid plan in place in a short time. “Starkville’s close to [Hannah’s] heart,” Abadie said. “She’s wanting to help the town where she lives. It means more when it comes from somebody who grew up here.” They are currently working on setting up an online storefront for the stores.

Currently an on-hiatus Emory University student, Jian had already been working with groups in Atlanta to help local companies shift their focus from their normal products to ones which are needed now — e.g. a clothing company wanted to transition to mostly making facemasks, and a robotics startup wants to help companies looking to implement warehouse automation. Jian and four Emory classmates, all from different cities, are working as a unit to benefit business owners in their respective hometowns. She has also worked with Starkville’s own Glo, which is now a multi-national concern. Jian is working on spreading the word about Thrive so that the pro-bono company can help as many local businesses as they can.
“Having people such as Hannah pitch in and offer that assistance is vital for the local economy,” Partnership CEO Mike Tagert said. “The fact that she is from Starkville, certainly that helps small business owners understand that she has a feel for the community and the town…Any additional ways that our small business owners have to interact with their customer base is more important than ever,” he went on to say. “They have to be diverse. They have to have secondary and tertiary ways of selling their products.”

As Emory will be going full-digital/remote learning for the Fall semester, Jian will be staying in Starkville for now, working directly with local entrepreneurs: “We aren’t going to be able to return to normal for a long time,” Jian said. “Businesses are still going to be feeling the impacts of the pandemic on the economy for a long time after now.”

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Columbus Developers Launch New Outdoors App – Seys Bar Up for Sale

GTR AREA, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch


There’s a new app in town — and it was made by locals! Global Outdoors is a free new app that helps people who are looking to get away from it all find outdoor activities to do. Mark Alexander, Mark Alexander Jr., and Wade Leonard developed the app.: “I travel all over the world, and I noticed that it’s easy to find information about hotels or restaurants or just about anything, but it’s extremely difficult to find information on the internet about places to hunt or fish,” Alexander said in a press release. “A handful of people have websites, but many do not, and many outfitters and business owners rely entirely upon word of mouth. I thought it would be great if I could find all outdoor experiences on one platform, similarly to the way I can find information about hotels or airlines.”

Please visit for more information.

Sey’s Sports Bar, 2118 Hwy. 45 Suite 5, in Columbus is up for sale. Company rep Josh Hogan says that “It’s been building here and we’re just looking to sell it to someone who can continue on with this business.” The owners are ready to retire, and they’re looking for someone to pick up where they’re leaving off. Interested parties can contact Hogan at 662-251-4887.

Mudd Dobbers Vintage Shop, in Holly Hills Plaza at 3189 Hwy. 45 N. Suite D, will soon open for business. Owner Lisa Halverson said, “This is like a dream come true for me. . .I love to take old vintage pieces and bring them back to life. … God has surely blessed me beyond measure. . .I have tried to add a little bit of everything to this shop so that everyone can find something special,” Halverson said. “I’m so excited to meet new customers and help create their space.” They plan to open officially this August, and will be open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Having just finished up a stint in Columbus, Fair Treats to Geaux’s set of food trucks has now opened in Starkville. From now until July 26, you can get your fair food fix on Louisville St near Skate Odyssey.

Finally, Pita Pit has re-opened. The downtown eatery is open daily 11 a.m.-11 p.m. for pick up, curbside and delivery.

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The Children Are Our Future — So Let’s Help Them Succeed

GTR AREA, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Eric Hill, director for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach at MSU, recently spoke to the Columbus Rotary Club: “I’ve always been interested in business since I was a kid,” Hill said. “My parents encouraged it when I was very young.” He spoke about revitalizing our local and state economy by nurturing youth talent and bringing in capital to help them to develop their own business ideas. His center currently provides anywhere from $500~7,500 each to over a hundred teams of students to help make their ideas into reality. School alumni are the primary source of funding for these projects.

Over time, the idea has grown and flourished. In the past three years alone, it has helped to form a handful of successful companies that are now valued at over $15 million in total. One such company is Starkville’s own Glo, valued at over $5 million. Glo sells glowing plastic cubes which it now sells worldwide, shipping to about three dozen countries.

Photo credit: Eric Hill, the director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach at MSU, speaks about successful student businesses during the Rotary Club of Columbus meeting on Tuesday at Lion Hills Center in Columbus
Claire Hassler, the Dispatch

Hill fells that one major hurdle that many young would-be entrepreneurs face — beyond a lack of funds — is simply the support they need to put these things in motion: “When we started that business in high school and sold it, I sort of never doubted that it was possible,” he told The Dispatch. “It struck me that not everybody felt that way, not everybody had been propped up that they were capable.”

“Mississippi is in a perfect position to be a leader in technology,” Hill said Tuesday. “We have so many right ingredients today ready to go, it’s almost silly it hasn’t happened yet…When you are coaching an entrepreneur, it’s about building judgment, mindset that someone in their early 20s doesn’t have yet,” Hill told Rotarians. “Each of you have some sort of skill set and some expertise that’s valuable to an entrepreneur.”

Former Columbus mayor Jeffrey Rupp also spoke on the topic of helping our young minds become tomorrow’s business leaders: “[We need to know:] What’s going to keep the next generation’s entrepreneurs here? Because they are going to be the ones sitting down at this table 10 years from now,” Rupp said.

Rupp was among those who helped launch the GTR area’s “Lemonade Day,” where kids are encouraged to “…do three things with the money: Save some, spend some and share some.”

“Imagine being 25 years old, you got a company that’s worth $1 million. You are going to stay in Starkville?” Rupp said. “But we have had companies stay because they felt the support was there.”

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45 on 45, and Many More Businesses Movin’ and Shakin’ in the GTR



Columbus has a new restaurant: Patio 45 (3255 Hwy 45). They are set up for outdoor dining so diners can soak in the sun in comfort; they are currently working on a Plexiglas roof for the outside seating area so that people can enjoy the fresh outside air, rain or shine. They offer a rotating menu including seafood, burgers, steak, and more! Please see their FaceBook page for details. Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for lunch, 4:30-10 p.m. for dinner, Friday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for lunch and 4:30 p.m. — 1 a.m., Saturday 11 a.m. — 1 a.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Steak, lobster, and shrimp – Patio 45

America’s Car-Mart has completed their shift to their new digs at 3933 Hwy. 45 N. “We needed a bigger facility to better serve our customers with more quality, used vehicles,” their post read. “It’s awesome, and we’re excited!”

Meanwhile, Action Auto has now taken the spot next to Car-Mart’s old location at 2325 Hwy. 45, having moved there from their original spot on Gardner.


Dogwood Equine Connection, an outpatient equine therapy center, has now opened its doors at 344 St. Matthews Road. Owner Katie Holtcamp says that she has eight horses and 78 acres currently. “Equine therapy allows individuals to work on any type of wellness goal,” Holtcamp said. “Horses are unbiased and accept people for who they are and where they are. Whether someone wants to work on mental, emotional or physical health, horses can accommodate when partnered with a credible instructor.”

If you’d like to book a session or simply want to learn more about the benefits of equine therapy, please give Holtcamp a call at 662-312-3473 or check out


McAlister’s Deli, 5576 Hwy 45 Alt. S., is scheduled to open their doors this coming Monday. The first 100 guests on July 13 that purchases an entree will receive the ever-famous tea for free for an entire year.

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Quick Hits: Good Grub and a Way to Stay Cool

GOLDEN TRIANGLE AREA – Courtesy of the Dispatch Pearl’s Southern Cooking at 7066 Hwy. 45 N. in West Point has formally opened their doors. They offer up tasty soul food and classic Southern favorites, such as biscuits with sausage gravy, ribs, and catfish platters, and more! Tues~Thurs 11-8, Fri 11-9, Sat 7a-9p.

Photo: Fair Treats to Geaux (promo pic from their FB page)

Fair Treats to Geaux, a mobile vendor, is offering up funnel cakes, fried Oreos, and all sorts of other fair fare in Columbus near Gary’s Pawn & Gun on Hwy 45 from Noon to 8pm daily through Sunday July 5th.

Local water park Slip-N-Dip, 312 Lake Lowndes Road in Columbus, is officially open for the season. As with other businesses, they will be enforcing rules for public safety in these unusual times: 100-patron limit, 6-foot distancing, etc. Mon~Sat 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

Please check their respective FaceBook pages for updates, menus, directions, and more!

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Hope for the Future at the TTWD Authority

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Hope Oakes has been the office manager of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority since August 2019
Photo by Claire Hassler, Dispatch Staff

Veteran reporter and shutterbug Hope Oakes took over as the office manager at the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority (TTWDA) last August, replacing the late Agnes Zaiontz, who had run the place for more than three decades. “Agnes was a definite force of nature and she was one of the grande dames of the industry,” Oakes told the Dispatch. “So I knew I had some awfully, impossibly large shoes to fill. I made the comment that if I could just fill up her toe space I’d be doing alright.” Oakes had previously been the community editor for the Columbus Packet for many years, where you could find her extensive work and gorgeous photos on the front of Section B every week.

The Authority has been around since 1958, since it was set up by the Federal government in order to to help ensure the construction of the waterway. It is a multi-state concern, and these days, it has come into the role of promoting trade more via the waterway.

Zaiontz’ daughter has expressed her support for Oakes: “Mom made a point to introduce me to her and at the museum dedication,” Cindy DeFelice told The Dispatch. “And I know that Mom would be so happy that Hope is filling her shoes…I know that she always spoke so highly of Hope and I know that she’d be very happy.” She went on to say that “[j]ust from the phone conversations and things that we’ve had since my mom passed, I understand now why my mom liked Hope so much and why she thought so highly of her,” DeFelice said. “Because she is such a kind person and she’s very very intelligent.”

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You Win Some, You Lose Some — Businesses in the Area

GOLDEN TRIANGLE REGION, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch


The former Catfish and Chords building at 2222 Military Road has now completed its transition into a piano bar called “The Burning Piano.” The owners, Ben Sala and Lisa & Stephen Sims, say that the newly-renovated space has been in the works for a long time now, and they’re happy to say that it’s ready for prime time – they offer food, nightly music, and good times. Open daily from 4pm~til (M-Th until 11pm, F-Sat til 1am, Sundays until 10pm). they will also have Happy Hour on weekdays from 4 to 6 pm.

The Competitive Edge, 2322 Hwy. 45 N., is officially open. They offer primarily physical training, but they also offer forms of training that can benefit most anyone. They are offering 20% off of training packages until June 22nd, and facility tours will be available through Saturday from noon to 7pm. Their regular hours will be Mon-Thurs Noon to 6pm for the summer, and by appointment only after that.

On the flip side of the coin, local mainstay Rae’s Jewelry at 110 5th St is closing its doors after 50+ years in business. Owner Pete Creekmore says that the time has simply come for him to retire, something which has been in the works for six months or more: “I’ll miss the people I talk to every day,” Creekmore said in a press release. “We have multiple generations of customers shopping. We know our customers, their children and their grandchildren. …We hold fond memories. This has been a happy business, and we’ve enjoyed being a part of celebrating all those happy occasions.”
They will be holding a clearance sale beginning on June 23, with discounts of up to 70% off until it’s all gone. Tues-Fri 9:30 – 5 and Saturdays until 5:30.

Skate Odyssey in Starkville and Columbus have re-opened, but with precautions in place: 50% of capacity, no groups larger than ten people at a time, and arcade machines will be shut down. They will also be aggressively sanitizing frequented areas. Tues 1-5pm/7-9:30pm, Fri 7-11pm, Sat 2-10pm, Sun 2-5pm


Gordman’s on Hey 12 (the former Goody’s) will be shutting down, as the company has gone into bankruptcy due to COVID-19. A liquidation sale has begun, applicable while stock lasts.
On the upside, MSU’s famous MAFES cheese store has reopened, having been shuttered since March. Go get you some fresh local goodies and support MSU!

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The Hard-Working Folks at Baptist Give Helping Hands a Helping Hand

Courtesy of the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce


Employees of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle recently donated 1,295 non-perishable food items plus $170 to the Helping Hands Food Pantry in Columbus.

The food drive kicked off during National Hospital Week on May 10 and ended May 31 and was one way for employees to repay the community for all of the support the hospital has received during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The generous donations.
Courtesy Photo

Errolyn Gray, director of the Golden Triangle Regional Hub for Volunteers & Nonprofits along with volunteers Cory Adams and Daniel Kure picked up the items on June 3. Helping load were Leon Jackson and Robert Thomaswith Baptist Golden Triangle’s EVS department and Alden McGee, community relations coordinator. The hospital’s donations will help restock shelves at the United Way agency food pantry which has been used extensively by residents affected by the pandemic. Shown on pick-up day with the food items are, left to right, Jackson, Adams, Gray, Kure, Thomas and McGee.
We are so thankful for our amazing hospital employees during this time!


Image: Courtesy photo

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