More Industry Moving to the GTR Area


Columbia Industries is relocating operations to Starkville – Stephen Pimpo, WCBI

The MS Dev Authority has announced that Oregon oilfield & solid waste equipment manufacturer Columbia Industries is preparing to move from their original home to Starkville, and that they have dedicated over $9.5 million to the effort. They hope to create more than sixty local and regional jobs in the process, including both internal and external ones that will be needed to support the company. The plan is to have them all filed by next year: “Columbia Industries contacted us in a sense because they really wanted to locate in the southeast,” says GT LINK COO Meryl Fisackerly. “Given just the proximity to some of their customers, quality of life. They also were having a really hard time where they (were) with taxes.” She went on to say that “This project is located in Oktibbeha County but it’s going to provide jobs for people in numerous counties throughout the region and then even beyond the counties that we work.”

Mayor Lynn Spruill stated that “Obviously, we want to be a place where people want to be (and travel) from all over the country,” she says. “If they can do business here and feel as though they’re going to be successful, then that’s exactly what we want.”

The local construction and rehabilitation process is expected to start sometime around August of this year.

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Renovations Galore and Food and More!

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Scaffolding at the old masonic temple at Catfish Alley and Main – Deanna Robinson, Dispatch Staff

The old Masonic Temple on Main Street at the corner of Catfish Alley has been getting some refurbishment and renovation work done due to damage caused by a 2021 winter storm. Owner David Gooch says that he hopes to have a tenant in there once work is complete; the original plan was to have a neighborhood market/grocery move in, but then the storm hit. The plan is to have it ready for occupancy by this Fall.

Just around the corner from there, Josh Read and his team at Edward Jones Financial have moved into the former Fashion Barn building. They plan to renovate the unused space and lease it out to other area businesses. “I’d love to have your startup or small business existing that wants more room,” Read said.

International Paper’s Columbus mill was the featured business on an episode of Mike Rowe’s “How America Works,” which airs on Fox Business and showcases infrastructure businesses.

Rapid Auto Service, at 1121 Gardner Blvd. in Columbus has seen a huge jump in business over the past couple of months: “Probably from the first month to the second month we’ve at least doubled if not tripled,” said Terry McCool, co-owner.

AT&T is working with telecom company Intrado, to improve 9-1-1 service in our area. Under the prior system, calls could be roughly located within a range of about ten miles of the nearest cell phone tower; now, the improved tech has made it possible to narrow down calls to within 50 meters (~54.6 yards) of their location. This should help speed up response times, particularly on calls where the person who needs help isn’t 100% certain of their exact location.


Arepas, a Venezuelan eatery, is moving from East Main St. to its new location at 102 Rue Du Grande Fromage, the old Commodore Bob’s location. The hope is to be open for business again by early August.

The Pita Pit on 104 W. Main St. is closed temporarily, as it is under new ownership. They are going to re-open in a few weeks, and are looking to hire new workers.

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Red Tape Can’t Keep a Good Restaurant Down

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

The former Woody’s on the Water stands next to Columbus Lake at Columbus Marina – Brian Jones – Dispatch Staff

The process of selling the former Woody’s on the Water building to an entrepreneur who means to open a seafood restaurant there has met with myriad delays, but light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. The City voted to sell the property for $300K back in January to developer Thomas Genin, but red tape, due diligence, and other factors have bogged down the actual closing of the sale; it looks like it could be finalized as soon as June 15th. The site is next to the Columbus Marina.

Genin has stated that he plans to renovate the restaurant itself and the boat docks, as well as adding a seafood market to the building and a beach to the property nearby.

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Downtown Development Brings New Business, Apartments to Revitalize Area

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Main Street Columbus Director Barabara Bigelow recently spoke to the Columbus Rotary Club about the rapidly-filling vacancies – both residential and commercial – in downtown. Among the properties discussed were:
– The former Stone Hotel has been converted into 18 new apartments (almost all filled as of Wednesday) and an open space for use by local businesses and individual workers. Local entrepreneur Chris Chain has been the man behind this project.
– The 322 building on 5th St has been fully-renovated by TGV Properties, LLC, bringing in 3 new apartments and even more space for business to be conducted.
– The Princess Theater has been leased out; once it’s ready, it will serve as a cafe and venue space.
– The Hive, a beauty shop, has a July opening planned. It is located at 422 Main Street.
– Zachary’s Tavern on Fifth Street is under renovation, with the intention to convert it into a fine-dining destination.

Main Street Columbus Director Barbara Bigelow, left, speaks with Lauren Barker after the Columbus Rotary Club meeting – Caroline Beach – Dispatch Staff

“Apartments downtown draw traffic,” Bigelow said. She went on to say that past development has proven that “if people are living on the second floors, it will draw traffic and business downtown and there will be foot traffic and car traffic.”

She went on to say that Market Street has seen renewed interest and success this past year, and that they plan to continue supporting the festival, making it bigger and better: “We had more visitors, arts and crafts vendors and food vendors than we’ve had in the past,” Bigelow said. “It is a great festival. It is enjoyed by many people and we are just so fortunate to have the support of everyone in Lowndes County,” Bigelow said.

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LINK Plans to Bring Garan New Neighbors

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins has announced that plans and funding are in place to start laying out new structures at the North Star Industrial Park in Starkville. “We’ve got $3.4 million in a grant from the state of Mississippi to do further enhancements to the park,” Higgins said. Materials are already in place to start construction.

Garan Manufacturing is the first occupant of North Star Industrial Park off Highway 389 in Starkville – Jessica Lindsey, Dispatch Staff

Garan, makers of Garanimals children’s clothing, has been resident in the Park since 2021, and in Starkville since the 1960s: “At this building, we are support for all of our manufacturing entities throughout the world,” Garan manufacturing manager Greg Fuller said of the North Star plant.

Howard Linzy, VP for corporate human resources, noted that “Our workforce here is very glad to be in a new building, a very fresh, modern environment. . . [The old building] was very dated. We now have a much more pleasant working environment.”

Higgins went on to say that deals are in the works at various stages to bring in manufacturing businesses of all kinds for the foreseeable future.

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Columbus, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

The LC BoS recently approved a contract for financial incentives to improve and rehabilitate Leigh Mall to the tune of about $3 million in tax rebates. The Hull Group, its current owner, is to do the work. The agreement must still go through the Columbus City Council, MDA, and Dept of Revenue before it is actually put into place.

GT LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins has indicated that the intent is to “turn the mall inside-out,” with major storefronts having parking-lot-level entrances as their main entry points. He also stated that “It’s performance-based . . . If they make progress, it rewards them, and it gives them a cap. In a perfect world, they’d do this in five years and be done, but they wanted the 15 years. . . If they don’t make progress and don’t succeed, then they don’t get the reward.”

Mockup of the mall’s new external look; courtesy of the Hull Group

Hull’s VP for gov’t relations, John Mulherin, elaborated on the program — saying that the renovation simply would not be feasible without such incentives — and went on to explain their plans for the mall going forward. Phase one will involve “a lot of tenants there now [going] to the outside. Phase three will be putting on a new roof, which we’ll really be doing simultaneously with the first phase. We just separated it out because we didn’t want the city and county paying for that because we’re going to have to put a roof on it anyway.” they are also looking into outparcels for new businesses to occupy, based on demand for their products/services; the old Sears building will be torn down.

They hope to have made visible progress on this project by this Fall, pending approval.

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2022 Business Woman of the Year


Columbus, MS – Courtesy of MPB Online

Angela Crossley Ferraez (courtesy photo)

Columbus’ own Angela Crossley Ferraez is an area entrepreneur with several successful businesses under her belt. She has been named “2022 Business Woman of the Year” by the Mississippi Business Journal. She has been working hard all her life to help the local community, and she now serves as the Executive Director of the MPB Foundation. And THAT’S Good for Business!

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Coffee and Cheesecakes and Breads, Oh My!

WEST POINT, MS – Courtesy of the Daily Journal

Jubilations Cheesecake Coffee House in West Point — originally founded in Columbus — has a long history of making amazing food and treating both its workers and customers well. They have expanded their offerings in recent years, adding items such as sandwiches, a wide variety of pastries, and sausage cheese balls to the menu. “Everything has got to be as good in its category as our cheesecake is in its category, or we’re not going to sell it,” Owner George Purnell said.

They also work with various groups nationwide, sending out food to help with fundraising efforts: “We have groups from all over the U.S. selling our cheesecakes,” Luann Purnell added. “Everything from cheerleaders, schools, and church youth groups to junior auxiliaries.”

“The people are the most important part of our business, not the cheesecakes,” he said. “We are here to serve each other and our customers.”

They are located on Hwy 45-Alt South in West Point; M~F 6 to 6, Sat 7 to 2.

The good folks at Jubilations work hard and treat you right. Check out their website at this link:

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Mmmm…Coffee…Er, Caffe’

GTR Region, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch


J5 founder Jabari Edwards started the J5 Caffe’ not long ago, and he has now expanded into the business of selling fine coffee beans online. “I started J5 Caffe’ because I love coffee and I saw this as a way to help send kids from economically distressed areas to HBCUs in Mississippi,” Edwards said in a statement to The Dispatch. “This ties into my overall mission of building Black wealth.”
Find him online at

Luxury spa Real Premium Aesthetics will be holding a ribbon cutting this Saturday from 2 to 4, and will be taking clients beginning on Monday. 3504 Bluecutt Road; Mon~Thurs 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri~Sat 9 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sunday, 3-6 p.m.

Mignon Isaac recently opened the doors to “Chit Chat” at 2401 Hwy. 45. They offer a private place for people to talk with her: “I decided to open because lots of people would always reach out to me for my advice and my opinion on their life,” Isaac said. “…I am big on communication. I’m a talker and a thinker and I like to help people.” Mon~Fri 9 to 7 “with some flexibility” as needed. Call 662-364-1786 for info.


Katelyn Wolfe is offering nutritional counseling services as Wolfe Nutrition, LLC: “Food is not black and white; it’s not good or bad,” Wolfe said. “I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to help you, guide you. …I want to teach you skills, so you have the ability to make healthy choices for your lifetime.”

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J Broussard’s to Add Bakery to Downtown Landmark Restaurant



J. Broussard’s, 210 Fifth St. S., is in the final stages of opening up a bakery within their location. “Baked” will offer tasty good such as croissants, danishes, alfajores (dulce de leche sandwich cookies), cinnamon rolls, breads, cupcakes, tarts and more. Chef Beth Broussard Rogers said each delicacy will be made in-house and from scratch. Baked will also sell pimento cheese, chicken salad and take-and-bake entrees. The restaurant itself will continue to operate as normal.

“I think anyone who knows me even a little is not the least bit surprised we are finally bringing this dream into reality,” Rogers said. “I’ve always loved to bake. … I’m really passionate about good bread, and I spent a good portion of 2020 perfecting the crusty loaf that we now serve with our food each night at the restaurant. I want to be able to share that bread with more people, and opening the bakery is a good way to do that. I’ve always hoped to have a bakery one day, and I’m excited to share my dream with the people of Columbus who have wholeheartedly supported us through the pandemic.”

The restaurant is open Tues~Sat 5:30-9pm; the bakery is planned to be open Wed~Sat 10-6; they are shooting for this Spring.


Pop Porium owner Rosa Dalomba recently founded Elevate Mixology, a traveling mixology service. “It just makes sense,” Dalomba said. “Our popcorn is known for its service. After the compliments from customers (at sporting events), I realized I had a niche for customer service skills. . .I just loved it. Bartending is really fun and it fits my background in hospitality,” Dalomba said. “I’m excited to be a part of everyone’s special events and I’m ready to elevate everyone’s experience.” is the website; it should be ready to roll in just a few days.

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