Councilmen to Hear from Retail Coach Soon About Leigh Mall’s Future and More

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Columbus councilmen will be in session this evening, where they will hear a progress report from the firm “The Retail Coach” (TRC) on their efforts to recruit new businesses to the city (in Leigh Mall, in particular). The city contracted out to the firm on a temporary basis a year ago to take over the role previously performed by the Golden Triangle LINK.

“The first phase of any retail recruitment project that we do is to come in and analyze the market and pull some figures,” Caroline Hearnsberger of TRC said.

Retail spaces inside Leigh Mall are some of the vacancies The Retail Coach
was hired by Columbus late last year to recruit tenants to fill
— Photo by Amanda Lien – Dispatch Staff —

The firm is also looking to fill spaces previously (or currently) occupied by nationwide chains: “Even as late as Friday evening, I was on the phone with a retailer that is, and remains, very interested in the Office Depot space,” she said. “There is so much interest in that space, and in the Kmart and JCPenney spaces as well.”

“I know it’s frustrating when you hear about businesses closing but … I think this is an exciting time for retail in Columbus,” she went on to say. “

Columbus COO David Armstrong commented: “We’re looking forward to hearing from (Hearnsberger) at the meeting,” he said. “We have high hopes that the work (The Retail Coach) is doing will have a significant impact.”

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New Houses in Classic Style and Lofts Where Lee Used to Be

GOLDEN TRIANGLE AREA, MS – Courtesy of Progress/The Dispatch

Developer Saunders Ramsey is bringing a touch of the good ol’ days to Starkville with Creole, Acadian, and French Colonial houses in the new Adelaide subdivision. The houses are designed to encourage folks to sit on the generous front porches – perhaps with a glass of iced tea or a Mint Julep in hand – and wile away the hot summer hours chatting with their neighbors: “It’s where new meets the old,” Ramsey said. “We are going way back to before conventional subdivisions. We’re using the ability to influence behavior through design.”  

Guy Mackey – Courtesy photo

Meanwhile, in Columbus, Guy Mackey has renovated two existing apartment complexes (College Manor on College St and Park Manor in Lee Park), giving them new life: “Nothing had been done to them in 30 or 40 years,” he said. “We didn’t anticipate going to the extent that we did, but it made sense to focus on getting it done right. And that’s a great thing for the community.”

It just really dated back to the 70s,” Mackey said. “We gave it a nice facelift though.”

Developer Scott Berry is moving forward on his project to turn the old abandoned Lee school building into loft apartments, though he is keeping some of the school’s old touches, such as an intercom in one corner, the original school doors, and rows of lockers that were once used by students of all stripes: “If you’re familiar with the school, once you get into the old apartments, there’s no doubt you’ll know where you are,” Berry said. 

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Developer Mark Castleberry is far from Done with Work in Golden Triangle

GOLDEN TRIANGLE – Courtesy of Progress/The Commercial Dispatch

The 18th Avenue Columbus development – Photo by Peter Imes

Developer Mark Castleberry has had a twenty-year history as one of the GTR’s most prolific developers, and who’s vision and ambition have made a huge impact in the Golden Triangle. He moved to West Point from Long Beach, California in 199, and he completed his first project in 1998 – The Tower Center in West Point. Since then, he has spent that time well, bringing eighteen projects to life (so far!), including hotels, restaurants, and many other venues, such as The Mill at MSU in Starkville and the hotels-and-more section of 18th Avenue in Columbus.

Castleberry remains humble about his works, seeing them as simply something that could help improve the area: “People think I’m some kind of financial genius, but I’m alarmingly ignorant about those things,” he said. “More than anything, [The Mill] was a gut feeling. I saw it and said, ‘Now, there’s an very interesting project. I don’t know what it is yet, but yeah, we can do it.’ It wasn’t a lot more sophisticated than that.”

Mark Castleberry stands inside The Mill during construction
Photo by Luisa Porte

He also makes it a point to stat apprised of how the areas he does work in are perceived, how his projects may have changed those perceptions: “We have over $100 million invested in the Golden Triangle, so I wouldn’t be very smart if I didn’t want to be knowledgeable about its health,” he said. “I don’t see that as a negative. I’m proud of the work the CVB has done in portraying Columbus in a positive light. Being on the CRA board, meant I couldn’t participate directly in any of the development, but I’m proud of the CRA’s role in getting the Lee High property back on the tax rolls.”

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Columbus Comes Together as a Community to Aid Tornado’s Targets

By Colin Krieger

Over 100 homes with major damage or destroyed- in our little city. Can’t forget them.

I got invited to be a small part of a big project that was announced yesterday. The Community Based Recovery Committee will be working to coordinate the long-term rebuilding of Columbus after the tornado and recent flooding.

Post-tornado community volunteer group meetup
photo credit: Colin Krieger

As the weeks pass, the committee’s job is to keep the community informed on the progress, and to make sure the victims of both disasters aren’t forgotten.

I’m honored to be invited, and I was very impressed that there were no political-type appointees or other opportunists in the room. Nice to see

Together is better, Columbus.

For more information about Recovery Community efforts, please click here for the Dispatch’s article.

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Baptist’s Business Over Breakfast Brings in the Best

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce

courtesy photo

Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle sponsored Business Over Breakfast this morning, and it was a resounding success! BOB is an extension of their existing Business After Hours program, which has proven to be quite popular. Now, business professionals and curious citizens alike have more opportunities to check out local businesses, network with one another, and have some good chow while they’re at it. All are welcome to these events — Please see the CLCC FaceBook page for a schedule of these and other events.

Baptist CEO Paul Cade presented an informative overview and update on BMHGT for the assembled crowd.

The next BOB is scheduled for 7:30 AM at CSpire on Hwy 45, where one of the first BOB events took place.

courtesy photo
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Teaching Kids About Business . . . Like a BOSS!

Courtesy of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership

Does your youngster long to learn more about running or even starting their own business? Do they have some time to spare and the drive to make a pitch for the perfect shop? Then swing on by the GSDP’s page and see about singing them up for this year’s Innovation Challenge.

The competition is open to all Oktibbeha students from 6th thru 12th grades; a parental permission form is required (see the link below). Over $2,000 worth of prizes will be available to the winners. It involves a teacher-led program to help develop ideas that might some day see the light of day. The kickoff was last night (March 5th), so give them a call ASAP if you’re interested!

Who knows, maybe your teenager has some fantastic ideas that could make for a good business model? There’s one way to find out…Here’s what the GDSP has to say about the competition:

Explore entrepreneurship like a boss and turn your idea into a reality with the International Paper Innovation Challenge: Ideas 2 Enterprise. And with $2000 of prize money on the line, it’s time to prepare to make your pitch.

The Partnership and MSU eCenter have teamed up with International Paper for the second annual Innovation Challenge, a hands-on opportunity for innovative Oktibbeha County middle & high school students to experience a real-world entrepreneurial process.

During the 4-week, teacher-led program, participating individuals and teams will:

Develop and pitch their own business ideas
Spend a day at the MSU eCenter learning and exploring business development
Work one-on-one with MSU student and staff mentors
Learn how to develop a business plan
Pitch ideas at the eCenter roundtable
Compete for a $500 grand prize and scholarships to the MSU ICreate Entrepreneurship Summer Camp

For further information regarding the challenge, contact Jeffrey Rupp at (662)-364-7021 or by email at

For more information, please click here.

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Proffitts Porch is Back and Ready to Feed Y’all!

There’s nothing quite as American as bald eagles and homemade chocolate chess pie!!
My good friends over at Proffitt’s Porch are back in business after the flood waters receded this week. With all the issues with the tornado, we can’t forget all the good people that got hit by the near-record floods.
Legend has it Mr. Campbell waded through nearly a mile of flood waters to do his payroll this week- that’s a man that loves his team and deserves our support!
I got a snap of Campbell and Teresa Proffitt with their amazing crew today…then I got myself a legendary roast beef po-boy. Best in the business! Teresa is also making fresh pies all week! And, with all of the fish sitting in puddles from the floods, there are bald eagles hanging out nearby.
So, get up, grab a friend, and get yourself over to The Porch!

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United Deli Still Going Strong Despite Tornado Damage

“I’m so blessed, now we need to take care of our friends here who lost so much”

Mr.John over at United Deli is all class- and he’s open for business.


United Deli suffered roof damage, had a fence down, and a piece of wood went through the kitchen wall. Not enough to shut them down.

United Deli is located at 212 Tuscaloosa Rd in Columbus, in the gas station on the western side at the corner of Garner Blvd & Tuscaloosa Rd.

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Entrepreneurship Making its Mark in the GTR

GOLDEN TRIANGLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch


A new restaurant and bakery are on their way to downtown. Bakery and southern-style restaurant Georgia Blue plans to open two locations in Starkville. Mayor Spruill stated that the plan is for one of them to be on S. Jackson St, in the front section of the old Mississippi Motors building.

327 Hwy. 12 W. is the new location for the newly-reopened Midtown Outfitters. They offer Mississippi State apparel and customizable shirts, shoes, coolers, hats and more. The new location will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 


JB’s House of Blues, located at 20 22nd St. S., seeks to serve customers in two ways: during the day (10 – 5 daily) as a traditional restaurant, and as a night club with live DJs and concerts from Thursday through Sunday evenings, 8pm – 1am

VM Squared and the Chamber of Commerce are collaborating on a business seminar this Tuesday at Lion Hills Center focused on offering cyber security tips. The event will run from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. If interested, you must register at the Chamber’s website; tickets will cost $15. 

A newly remodeled Wendy’s has re-opened its doors at 312 Hwy. 45 Alternate N.

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