Joe Max Higgins Helps Golden Triangle to Make a Great Impression

Joe Max Higgins Helps Golden Triangle to Make a Great Impression

“Business Facilities” magazine did a great article following up on CBS’ coverage of our own Joe Max Higgins not too long ago, highlighting his zeal and efforts in bringing manufacturing plants and jobs to our area. Higgins has been working tirelessly for many years to help revitalize our area — and that’s Good for Business!


Thanks to an interview on last Sunday’s 60 Minutes broadcast on CBS, the economic development community has a new mega-star, and his name is Joe Max Higgins. Higgins is Economic Development director for Mississippi’s Golden Triangle.

As revealed during his star turn on 60 Minutes, Higgins is a project-building dynamo. Since he arrived in the Golden Triangle in 2003, Joe Max has turned a rural stretch of the Magnolia State into one of the hottest high-growth locations you can find anywhere. If you didn’t watch Sunday’s show, we encourage you to check it out.

Here are some highlights:

Under Joe Max Higgin’s leadership, the area has attracted $6 billion in new investments. Unemployment in the Golden Triangle is now 6 percent and falling fast.

Beginning in the 1990s, the Golden Triangle began suffering an exodus of manufacturing jobs in its primary industries of textiles, toys and tubing, with a majority of the estimated 12,000 jobs it lost leaving for overseas locations. Since Higgins arrived, more than half of these jobs have been replaced. According to Joe Max, the influx of 6,000 new manufacturing jobs to the tri-county region was driven by companies who had offshored production coming to the realization that they could produce their goods and get them to market from plants in Mississippi cheaper than by shipping them to the U.S. from overseas plants.

Joe Max’s in-your-face approach has landed some killer deals for the Golden Triangle, including a Steel Dynamics plant that is one of the most advanced steel mills in the nation.

Higgins’ bulldog tenacity is applied to state and county officials as well as corporate site selectors. He’s succeeded in convincing them to pony up more than half a billion in incentives and tax breaks to grease the wheels of dealmaking in the Golden Triangle.

Higgins told 60 Minutes that when he arrived in the Golden Triangle the area was “paralyzed” by poverty. But he saw some golden assets that could form a foundation for solid growth, including an airport, railways and waterways that connect the area to the Gulf Coast in the south and the Great Lakes in the north.

Higgins told the locals to shake off what he called “a losing attitude” and realize they had the assets to make the Triangle “big and strong and fast.”

Bulldog indeed. You’ve got our full attention Joe Max, and we look forward to keeping everyone up to date on the great progress being made in Mississippi’s Golden Triangle.


Click this link to view the full article

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Amazon to Begin Charging Sales Tax to MS Customers

Info courtesy of the Clarion-Ledger via WCBI:

JACKSON, Miss. (WCBI-TV) – There’s impactful news Tuesday about Mississippi’s budget that could affect your online shopping.

The Department of Revenue says Amazon has agreed to start collecting a 7 percent tax on sales in the state. It’ll start Feb. 1.

Commissioner Herb Frierson says it could make more than $15 million for the state. Consumer prices will likely rise.

The announcement came Tuesday on the Mississippi Department of Revenue’s Facebook page. Amazon, the online sales giant, had the option of facing an audit for the last three years or agree to a new tax, according to the Clarion-Ledger.

Amazon To Start Collecting Mississippi Sales Tax

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Business and Higher Education in MS Working Hand in Hand

Business and Higher Education in MS Working Hand in Hand

January 19, 2017

Press Release, MS State (link below)

More than 95 percent of jobs created during the recovery have gone to workers with at least some college education, while those with a high school diploma or less are being left behind, according to America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots, a recent report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Understanding the crucial link between higher education and economic development, the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Development Authority have worked together for decades to leverage higher education assets to attract business and industry to Mississippi. The two entities formalized this partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Glenn McCullough Jr., Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority, Dr. Douglas W. Rouse, President of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and Dr. Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education, at a Board of Trustees meeting held Thursday [Jan. 19] in Jackson.

In collaboration with Mississippi’s eight public universities, the Board of Trustees and MDA will showcase Mississippi to companies that will create jobs and invest capital.

“Mississippi’s public universities are a strategic advantage in community and economic development so MDA is pleased to formally recognize our partnership with the Institutions of Higher Learning to provide new career opportunities for Mississippians,” McCullough said. “Working together, MDA and the IHL will aggressively leverage the assets we share to accelerate economic opportunity for Mississippians throughout the state.”

Dr. Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education; Dr. Douglas W. Rouse, President, Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning; and Glenn McCullough, Jr., Executive Director, Mississippi Development Authority. Photo: MS State

As outlined in the MOU, the expected outcomes include:

— Increased pipeline of companies to consider Mississippi for expansion and growth.

— Increased number of corporate contacts and project leads for MDA.

— Increased opportunities for corporate entities and Mississippi’s public universities to support one another.

— Defined and mapped catalog of the respective economic development strengths of Mississippi’s public universities.

— Increased business growth across the state.

— Stabilization and growth of jobs in defined sectors.

“Working together, our university system and the state’s economic development engine can build on our collective strengths for the benefit of the state,” Boyce said. “This Memorandum of Understanding better defines our roles and efforts, enabling the partnership to become a force multiplier for the state’s economy.”

Some of the planned efforts include shared marketing messages, joint outreach to strategic clients and business leaders and identifying and supporting shared legislative priorities. Each organization will designate a representative to serve as a point of contact and liaison for the effort who will support the goals of the MOU.

In addition to the MOU signing, another initiative was announced at the ceremony. This initiative is an online tool designed to help recent and soon-to-be graduates find jobs in the state, Set to complete the pilot phase and begin statewide implementation soon, the site allows students to receive email alerts when jobs in their desired career tracks become available.

The online tool was conceived by Mark Henry, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Services. Spearheaded by MDES, the site was developed by the National Strategic Planning & Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) at Mississippi State University and is managed by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. The career centers at the universities assist MDES in informing students about how to create a profile and use the site.

“This website is an important tool to help our students transition into the workforce and keep our graduates in the state,” Boyce said. “I’m not sure there has ever been a better communicative tool for keeping students up-to-date on job openings.”

MDA, IHL and the universities also plan to hold a semi-annual strategic conversation to align strategies and goals and produce a joint annual summary report of the outcomes and results of their collaborative work.


Click here to see original article: MS State Press Release


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MSU and Ole Miss Rank Highly in National Online MBA Poll

MSU and Ole Miss Rank Highly in National Online MBA Poll

WTVA brings us great news –  both Ole Miss and Mississippi State University got excellent scores in a nationwide study of online Master of Business Administration degree programs conducted by US News & World Report. The state is looking better and better for prospective businessmen and women! And THAT’s Good for Business!

Here is their press release:

(WTVA) – Two Mississippi universities have been ranked high when it comes to earning an MBA online.

U.S. News & World Report tied Ole Miss at number 21 nationally when it comes to earning a Master of Business Administration online and Mississippi State University tied at number 18.

According to the report, earning a Master’s degree in business adminstration is one of the most popular and growing graduate programs a person can take.

The report ranked schools using five criteria: student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology.

To see the full list, click this link.

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Ground Broken on EMCC’s $42mil Communiversity Facility

By Golden Triangle Development LINK

GOLDEN TRIANGLE – On Friday morning, December 9, local, state and federal agencies gathered to break ground on the Golden Triangle’s newest workforce development project, The Communiversity.

EMCC Communiversity Groundbreaking. Courtesy The GTR LINK

EMCC Communiversity Groundbreaking. Courtesy The GTR LINK

A $42+ million dollar project, the facility will be East Mississippi Community College’s state-of-the-art workforce technical training facility at the Golden Triangle Campus. Community groups began working on the project in December 2013. Funding for the project is sourced from state bonds ($18M), the Appalachian Regional Commission ($10.7M), local community funds from Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha Counties ($13.5) and EMCC ($400K).

The new facility includes an interactive, museum style lobby and 21 high bay learning areas, a manufacturing display venue, classrooms and laboratories, and incubator bays for new start-ups. The 16 classroom spaces will be equipped with the latest in A/V technology. The facility will also include office, conference, and food service collaboration spaces for EMCC and other entities. The project consists of 145,638 square feet.

“Federal, state, and local agencies have come together to invest in the workforce here in east Mississippi and we could not be more pleased,” said Dr. Thomas Huebner, East Mississippi Community College President. “This project is a game changer in workforce education and development and we are excited about the opportunities it represents for the communities we serve.”

Both non-credit workforce classes and career technical programs leading to the Associate of Applied Science Degree will be offered.  Construction is under way and is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

“This facility will put the Golden Triangle on the cutting edge of workforce training,” said Joe Max Higgins, Jr., CEO of the Golden Triangle Development LINK. “Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties should be commended for investing in their citizens. The Communiversity will be a massive asset to industrial recruitment and our existing industries.”

Read the full press release here:

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Black Friday Shopping Guide

cvb-logo-from-websiteBlack Friday Shopping Guide


A number of stores will be open today with special hours in order to accommodate anxious shoppers. Please be careful out there! Here are some things to look out for:


  • Heavy vehicle traffic. Be ready for long lines at stoplights and other drivers who may be a bit too anxious. Just be patient, and do your best to use alternate routes. Need to go clear across town? Try the I-82 instead of Main/182, or 7th St instead of Military or 45.
  • Parking. Our malls usually have plenty of room, but be prepared to wait, and watch out for aggressive drivers trying to find juuuust the right spot– especially at busier stores such as Wal-Mart. Be willing to park closer to the street and walk the extra 20 seconds from there – after all, you’ll be spending much more time than that inside! Keep an eagle eye out for the increased pedestrian traffic, too, and remember to ALWAYS yield to pedestrians!
  • Other people, both inside and outside of the stores. It’ll be busy! Be patient, be kind, and please understand that the other shoppers AND the store workers are just as anxious as you are to get out of there. Be nice to the workers, especially; they’re gonna be even more stressed out than you are!
  • Be ready for restaurants of all kinds to be packed full of weary shoppers. If a venue’s parking lot is full, chances are they have a line out the door, and that there will be a looooong wait to be seated. This goes double from around 11AM~1PM at many “sit-down” restaurants. Consider another places to grab a bite. Better yet, eat at home before you go, and have one less long line to deal with!
  • While some places have doorbuster sales, most of those sales – along with almost all of those items – are long gone now. Many of the specials you find today will reappear on Cyber Monday in a couple of days, especially for electronics.
  • No matter what you do, stay safe!
  • Consider avoiding all of this hassle altogether and simply shopping online at a store’s site, or a place such as
  • The Dispatch has been kind enough to research a list of local vendors  open for extended hours on Black Friday. Most will have sales going on:

 Ashley Homestore: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday

PetSmart: 7a.m.-9 p.m. Friday

GameStop: 5 a.m.- 9 p.m. Friday

It’s Fashion Metro: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday

Burke’s Outlet: 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday

RadioShack: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday

Hobby Lobby: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday

Cato: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday

Cowboy Maloney’s: 7 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday

Office Depot: 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday

T.J.Maxx: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday

Mattress Firm: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday

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Developer has Plans to Restore Historic Turn of the Century Hotels to their Original Look

Developer has Plans to Restore Historic Turn of the Century Hotels to their Original Look

On the corner of 5th Street South and 3rd Avenue South in Columbus lie a couple of hotels which once served the area well back in the early 1900’s. They have become other businesses over the past century, and have been owned by the Mackay family during most of that time. Recently, the Mackays, proprietors of Party and Paper, sold the properties to developers Tommy Howard and Chris Chain. The new owners have announced their plans to restore the former hotels to their turn-of-the-century glory. They’ve got their work cut out for them, but it is their hope that they will be able to pull it off, bringing back a long-forgotten piece of Columbus’ history to downtown. With luck, this will help to beautify the area even further, and bring in more tourists and fans of historical buildings to the area. And that’s Good for Business!

Courtesy of The Dispatch – COLUMBUS

At the end of the strip of downtown buildings on the west side of the 200 block of Fifth Street South are two buildings more than 100 years old. The buildings used to be the New Stone Hotel and the Arcade Hotel in the early 1900s, and also played host to retail spaces and apartments. The new owners, developers Tommy Howard and Chris Chain, would like to bring all of that back.

Susan Mackay of Party and Paper (photo courtesy The Dispatch)

Susan Mackay of Party and Paper (photo courtesy The Dispatch)

Susan Mackay said she and her brother Wayne Price sold the buildings because they felt the two developers would restore the buildings to their more original, early twentieth-century look. “I’m so pleased to have some people that are going to come in that have a beautiful vision to renovate the buildings and just make it a real showplace for Columbus and the state of Mississippi,” Susan said. “I’m just really excited for all the possibilities.”

Preparation for the renovations is already under way, which means cleanup on a large, but cautious, scale. Bathrooms in the buildings that haven’t been used since the ’60s still have claw-foot tubs, and crews found a torn, yellowed Commercial Dispatch newspaper featuring President Harry Truman on the front page in one of the old apartments. An old New Stone Hotel sign was found in the upstairs wall. It now leans against the wall of the old hotel lobby where you can still see railings around where the grand staircase once stood.

The developers plan to make a boutique hotel from a good portion of the usable space, once all is said and done; they also plan to use some of the space for apartments, and possibly some for retail space, such as a new restaurant, as well. “You’ve got to have vision,” Howard said. “If you saw this building, you’d have been like, ‘Really?’ … But you’ve got to see their potential.”

The renovations are expected to take many months to a year; Party and Paper will stay there for the time being, renting out space from the new owners.

Chain is the owner of Renovations of Mississippi Inc., which he started in 1996. A Columbus native, he said his interest in historical buildings was piqued in the ’70s when he worked as a tour guide in Columbus’s old homes. Now he owns eight downtown buildings in addition to the ones Mackay and Price sold him and has renovated buildings all over the state.

“This is a passion,” he said. “…Rebuilding Mississippi’s heritage.”


For more info and the full article, click here:

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Starkville Mayor Wiseman Declines to Seek Re-Election

Starkville Mayor Wiseman Declines to Seek Re-Election
STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Parker Wiseman, Starkville’s 28-year-old current Mayor, has announced that he has decided to step down from office after his current term expires on June 30, 2017; he will have served in the position for eight years as of that time. He told The Dispatch that he has  accomplished a large amount of the agenda he set when entering public service seven years ago. Also, he and his wife, Lindsey, are expecting their third child this spring.

Starkvile Mayor Parker Wiseman (courtesy of the Dispatch)

Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman (courtesy of The Dispatch)

“It hasn’t been an easy decision at all, because I really, really love the job. This is something that Lindsey and I have talked about a lot, because this is a job that requires tremendous sacrifices from the whole family,” he said. “The only way I know to do this is with a full heart in pursuit of an agenda I feel passionate about. I just have very mixed feelings right now about the future, because I think it’s time for me to make sure I can give my family all the time I can.

“We set an agenda … and I’m proud of those accomplishments, including having a thriving downtown, developing a high quality of life in the community, strengthening local and regional partnerships and upgrading our city facilities,” Wiseman added. “By in large, we’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to do.”

He has not yet decided for certain whether he plans to seek office in the future. However, for the time being, he wants to devote all of his energies to his growing family.

For more info and the full article, please click here:

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Toy Drives Are Ramping Up to Help Community Children

Toy Drives Are Ramping Up to Help Community Children

The CPD, the Salvation Army, and other organizations are all working hard to get their respective toy drives in gear to provide a little something special for an unprecedented number of children this Christmas. Read on to see how you can help out!

Courtesy of The Dispatch —

CPD Toy Drive

The Columbus Police Department has been taking applications for the annual Toy Drive recently, and will soon be putting out donation boxes in which donors can place new, unwrapped toys. Those who wish to apply to be recipients have until Noon Thursday to come to the Municipal Complex to do so. Applicants for CPD’s drive must present picture identification, proof they live within the city limits (such as a utility bill), their child’s Social Security card or birth certificate and an official document proving custody, such as a school insurance card.

“We protect and serve, so this is the part (of our job) that we like to give back,” Community-Oriented Policing officer Rhonda Sanders said. She reports that they were able to give out toys to roughly 375 kids last year, thanks in large part to the CMSD’s becoming involved with the project two years ago: “Since the school system has gotten involved, the toy drive has really grown,” she said.

Beginning in late November, schools, banks, and the Municipal Complex will all have donation boxes in place.  Those who want to get involved in the CPD’s toy drive can also opt to pay $50 to help pay for a child’s brand new bicycle from Huffy Bikes, Sanders said.

Angel Tree

Rhonda Sanders, left, and Cheryl Phillips. Courtesy of The Dispatch

Rhonda Sanders, left, and Cheryl Phillips. Courtesy of The Dispatch

More than 300 children are already signed up to receive gifts from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, which will be set up in Leigh Mall on Friday, said Salvation Army Major Cheryl Phillips.  Tags with the specific items requested will be on the tree, so that shoppers can go and purchase those gifts. “People love when they know what the child likes,” Phillips said. “That makes it really special. People enjoy it because it’s such a personal way to help a child.”

The SA has also been conducting its “adopt a family” program, as usual, where businesses help to provide a Christmas for needy families, and community members can stop by the SA office at 2219 Main Street to drop off new gifts and pick up stockings to fill.

The Salvation Army and CPD will coordinate to ensure there is no duplication of names on the toy lists of each organization, Sanders said.

“We want to be able to give kids something, give them ownership of something — something nice, something to have pride in, something their own,” Sanders said.

For full article and more information, click here:

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Good Eats in Starkville to Help You Face the Day

wcbi-logo-wblack-box-smallCommodore Bob’s in Starkville does a thriving business dishing up fantastic grub at lunch and dinner, as well as a Sunday brunch for all comers. They serve plenty of locals, students, and tourists, so you’d better get there early or you might not find a seat! They and other restaurants help to keep Starkville fed and happy, and that’s Good for Business!

Today, their head chef demonstrates how to make an indulgent “grown-up’s ham & cheese sandwich” – the classic Croque Monsieur.

Commodore Bob’s Yacht Club is located at 102 Rue du Grand Fromage, Suites C & D, Starkville, MS 39759   –   (662) 268-8326

Courtesy of WCBI – Click the link below to view video:

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