MSU’s Park Cafe Open and Ready to Serve (and Caffeinate) Hungry Students

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

The Park Cafe at MSU had its formal opening Tuesday – Courtesy photo

The Park Cafe, located on Technology Boulevard in Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park at MSU, has had its soft opening and ribbon cutting, and they’re now open to the public for 3 hours a day on weekdays.

Their offerings will include catfish, sandwiches, salads and other lunches, and coffee. The cafe is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and closed on weekends.

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City resolves the Missing LINK

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

The City of Columbus has announced that they will be reestablishing their partnership with the GTR LINK, albeit under different conditions than their prior agreement. The two had parted ways about a year ago, when the city chose to give Tupelo’s The Retail Coach a try; TRC’s contract will end on October 15.

Photo: LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins with our own Colin Krieger and Lauren Buntin From the MS Industrial Development Association

“We are pleased to see the city and county working together on economic development,” said LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins in a statement. “We will not be replacing the retail services of their previous provider. We will continue (to) provide technical support for retail projects as well as workforce development, existing business expansion and retention, new business attraction and development, and research and planning services as outlined in our services contract with Lowndes County.”

However, this will leave the city without a company responsible for retail recruitment. The LINK had once covered that role, but “Now that we represent three counties and our staff is changing, we do not have the manpower to address retail that way,” LINK Chief Operations Officer Macaulay Whitaker said.

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Superior Catfish Begins Work on New Expansion Plant in Macon

MACON, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Groundbreaking has taken place at the Noxubee County site which will one day host a new catfish processing plant, bringing a number of new jobs to the county. The new, larger plant will replace the old one, which will become dry storage space. The estimated cost is $17 million, and it is expected to bring in 25 local jobs for the plant as well as 50-60 construction jobs. They expect to be ready for business in January 2021. The expectation is that it will bring with it a 20-25% production capacity increase for local farmers.

“I get a bigger satisfaction out of an announcement like this in rural Mississippi than I do with the bigger announcements,” said Mickey Milligan, chief economic development officer for the Mississippi Development Authority. “This is very meaningful to Macon and Noxubee County.”

rom left to right, District 3 Noxubee County Supervisor Sherman Patterson, Noxubee County Board of Supervisors President Eddie Coleman, Superior Catfish General Manager Fred Johnson, District 42 Rep. Carl Mickens, Merlinda Oliver, Chief Economic Developer Micky Milligan and District 1 Supervisor Larry Tate toss dirt in the air during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at Superior Catfish in Macon. The expansion of the plant will create an additional 25 jobs. Photo by: Jennifer Mosbrucker/Dispatch Staff 

“My heart is overwhelmed today because of this project,” Noxubee County District 1 Supervisor Larry Tat said. “Anytime you can sustain jobs and make an addition to what you’ve already got, that’s a plus. You don’t see that happening around the state of Mississippi, (but) it’s happening right here in Noxubee County today.”

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MS Supreme Court Paves the Way for Industrial Park

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

After more than two and a half years’ worth of legal challenges, The MS Supreme Court ruled to allow a section of land near the intersection of Hwy 389 & Hwy 82 to be rezoned as Manufacturing (originally Commercial) by upholding a lower court’s ruling on the matter.

Joe Max Higgins
and Lynn Spruill

LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins expressed his delight with the decision: “We are very pleased, although not surprised, by the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision today,” Higgins said. “Now, we can move quickly to complete the remaining park improvements and work to start seeing the rewards of the investment this community made two years ago.”

Mayor Lynn Spruill felt relief at the case finally being decided: “It is exactly the outcome that I expected, and I think the dilatory tactics employed by those who pursued it were just not in the city’s best interest,” Spruill said. “I’m delighted that it is over and done with, and we can aggressively market this industrial park in a way that we have not been able to heretofore.”

“It is sad that we have lost valued time and new industry opportunities,” Higgins said “Key parts of the necessary infrastructure improvements were also delayed while this zoning appeal dragged on.”

The city and Oktibbeha County issued a combined $14 million in bonds in July 2017 in order to fund construction of the business park.

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Siblings Found Success at Their Farmers’ Market Lemonade Stand

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Siblings Julia Dunand, 8, and Armando Dunand, 11, of Columbus started their LemonHeadz Lemonade stand during Golden Triangle Lemonade Day in June. They continued it for 10 weeks at the Hitching Lot Farmers Market, raising enough money to donate to Annunciation Catholic School and pocket a little profit for themselves. Photo by: Courtesy photo

Armando and Julia Dunand created their first lemonade stand back in June as part of Golden Triangle Lemonade Day, but they went a little bit overboard on the lemons themselves, starting out with a crate containing 75 lemons. Unfortunately, this proved to be a bit too much stock to sell through in one day, but they found a solution: Open the stand at the local Farmers’ Market and sell their fresh lemonade there instead. LemonHeadz Lemonade Stand proved popular with vendors and customers alike all season long; they even used all of those lemons, plus two bags more. In the end, they turned a net profit, and even donated most of it to Annunciation Catholic School, where the kids (Armando, 11, and Julia, 8) attend.

“We figured out how to work it out, and people loved it,” Julia said.

Her brother added, “We had a whole lot of fun.”

They succeeded not only because of this summer’s oppressive heat, but due to their own hard work and foresight. Once they had the stand going, they added blackberries, blueberries, pears, and even lemon tree saplings to their product lineup. They hope to add yet more items for next year: “Sometimes you just wanted to leave because it was so hot,” Armando said. “Sometimes you just didn’t want to go out there because you had to get up so early. But we kept doing it.”

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Leigh Mall in Columbus up for Bid

Leigh Mall on Highway 45 in Columbus is up for public auction
– File Photo from the Dispatch

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

We should expect several interested buyers to come forward, now that the mall is clear to sell in full.
“Make no mistake, this is the most valuable piece of real estate(available for sale) in the Golden Triangle” GTR Link President Joe Max Higgins

The The Commercial Dispatch has the scoop.
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ALDI Pondering a Potential New Location in Starkville

The wait for Aldi in the Golden Triangle may be over. It now seems to be in the hands of the Starkville Aldermen. Great scoop by The Commercial Dispatch:

By: Tess Vrbin

Starkville could get an ALDI grocery store and a TJ Maxx department store if Starkville’s board of aldermen approve a tax-increment financing plan this evening for the project.

Jimmy Gouras, an urban planning consultant representing developer Castle Properties, told Oktibbeha County supervisors Monday that both businesses have signed letters of intent to locate at a planned retail center at the intersection of Highway 12 and Industrial Park Road — the current Garan Manufacturing plant site. Garan is planning to relocate to the industrial park property at Highways 82 and 389….

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Starkville Aldermen Consider TIF for Possible New Retail Area on Hwy 12

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Developer Mark Castleberry (courtesy photo)

On Tuesday, the Starkville Board of Aldermen plan to hold a vote on a TIF (tax increment finance plan) for a new retail shopping center development project planned for the intersection of Highway 12 and Industrial Park Road. The site is currently being utilized by Garan Manufacturing.

If this plan is approved, the city would issue up to $3 million in bonds to reimburse the developer, Castle Properties, for the costs of certain infrastructure built there; Castle would repay the bonds with sales and property taxes generated at the center for up to 15 years.

Mark Castleberry, owner of Castle Properties, says that the location is planned to include a few restaurants as well as other stores, and should create 150 to 200 new jobs. The hope is that businesses which have shown interest in the Starkville area will take the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of this project.

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C*Spire Expanding Fiber Internet Infrastructure in Lowndes County on a Large Scale

LOWNDES COUNTY, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

In a recent unanimous vote, the Lowndes County BoS approved a 25-year franchise agreement allowing C*Spire to spread its high-speed fiber internet infrastructure throughout the county. The aim is to start from their existing fiber lines (which are mostly in or near cities) and expand into as many rural areas as practical, in order to give as many residents as possible access to fast fiber internet, TV, and phone-via-VOIP access where their options may have been few or even non-existent in the past.

C Spire will construct the infrastructure needed, and they will also be 100% be responsible for maintaining and restoring the areas where this has been done.

The County will receve a 5% share of customer revenue from the TV service, similar to the extant deal with Sparklight.

District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks spoke of an encounter in the past with a constituent whose lack of access to these services was jeopardizing her job: “I think to be able to expand internet systems is a major plus,” Brooks said. “It’s going to help facilitate economic development and growth.”

C Spire spokesman Dave Miller explained the difference between the gigabit ethernet speed which their company offers and those of its competitors; he said that this service is about 10x the current average speed. According to each of their own websites, AT&T offers speeds up to 18 MB/second, and SParklight, up to 300MB/second; C*Spire’s Gigabit service offers 1,000MB/sec speed.

“We basically go into areas and we do the research and we figure out if there’s interest there and we make the ultimate decision if we decide to build directly,” Miller went on to say. “We are determining areas we believe, based on research, statistics and information, there’s a need for broadband. We talk to homeowners association, talk to the chambers (of commerce), we talk to the elected officials, we talk to local organizations (and) we put all the information into the decision making and that’s how we make a determination.”

Miller added that those interested in receiving higher speed internet can register their address online at “Even though a response will come back saying we are not building in that area, we take that data and that residence becomes a pin on the map,” Miller said. “If we get enough pins within a geographical area, that triggers our potential interest in building there.”

C*Spire is no stranger to the area, having brought gigabit internet speed to Starkville starting in 2013.

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EMCC Earns its Place Among Top Ten Community Colleges in the Nation

SCOOBA, MS –Courtesy of EMCC


AMONG THE BEST: EMCC has been named among the Top 10 community colleges in the nation for the fourth year in a row by SmartAsset. For the rankings, SmartAsset analyzed 796 two-year educational institutions nationwide and compared the schools’ graduation and transfer rates, student-to-faculty ratios and cost of tuition and fees. Read more here:

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