Category Archives: Government-related

Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Robert Smith and Harry Sanders – Courtesy photo

The fate of the joint Lowndes/Columbus 2% restaurant tax is currently being hotly debated, as it is due to expire at the end of June. It normally brings in about $2 million per year in tax revenue from restaurants that make over $325,000 per year in prepared food and beverage sales. One of the primary issues that caused the tax’s renewal to die in committee a few weeks ago was the debate over whether the $325K floor should be in there at all; without it, all restaurants would be assessed the tax; another is whether the city of Columbus should simply go ahead and assess its own version of the tax, should the State fail to reinstate it sometime soon. The tax revenue goes primarily to fund tourism, parks and economic development.

“My thing is that if our legislators aren’t going to take out the ($325,000) floor, we’d be crazy to send anything down there that says otherwise,” Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said. “Two-million dollars is at stake here. That’s what we have to remember. So if the only way to get this tax back in place is to have the floor, that’s what we would have to do. If that means the county isn’t a part of it, that’s their decision.”

Should the city move forward with its own tax, it may mean changing how the existing Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau’s is funded; the new tax, in this case, would provide said funding in lieu of the old one. Mayor Smith remarked that “[W]ith [CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter’s] contacts and experience, we’d be foolish not to use that. . . We’d have to do something about the board because if it were to be city only, we’d need a board with [only] city people on it. But as far as running tourism, I still think the CVB is the best way to do it.”

The county, in contrast, wants to remove the “floor” on the tax, but keep it the way it was – a joint county/city tax. Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said, “The county has as much interest in tourism as anybody. . . We want to keep it exactly as it is, with the tax in place like it’s always been. … The only difference is taking away the floor because having that floor doesn’t make any sense. That’s been our position all along and I don’t see any reason why it would change.”

As it stands, if the tax is allowed to die later this year, any reinstatements or changes will have to wait until the Legislature reconvenes next January; this would mean losing out on a year or more of tax revenue. While it is theoretically possible to get a short-term, one-year version of the tax added to an upcoming State special session, it seems that it is unlikely that a local tax would be able to get onto the agenda at such a meeting.

Please click here for the full article.

Please click here for a Dispatch editorial on this topic.

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Dept of Commerce Invests $1.8 Million in Golden Triangle’s Future

Dept of Commerce Invests $1.8 Million in Golden Triangle’s Future

WASHINGTON, D.C. – From a Press Release Courtesy of the US Economic Development Association

Thad Cochran Research Park in Starkville – courtesy photo

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced yesterday that the Department’s Economic Development Administration is awarding a $1.8 million grant to the MSU Research & Technology Corporation of Starkville to help build the new Analytical Center for Advanced Microscopy and Microanalysis will be located at the Thad Cochran Research, Technology, and Economic Development Park.

“This project is the product of local leaders’ efforts to generate greater economic opportunities in Mississippi,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The new Analytical Center for Advanced Microscopy and Microanalysis will boost the state’s competitiveness by providing regional businesses with the support they need to grow while simultaneously delivering the critical workforce training necessary to help them thrive.”

The new facility will serve as an industrial resource by providing the instruments, equipment, and expertise businesses need to verify product integrity, support manufacturing, ensure quality control, and contribute to product development.

Please click here for the full press release.

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LCSD Officials Tour Nearly-Completed Tech Center

LCSD Officials Tour Nearly-Completed Tech Center

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

From left, LCSD Superintendent Robin Ballard, assistant Superintendent Tina Younger, Superintendent Lynn Wright and Maintenance Director Greg Wheat tour the LCSD Technology Center on Lehmberg. Photo by Luisa Porter – Dispatch Staff

Several years after a narrow defeat on an (ultimately successful) bond issue, Lowndes County School District Superintendent Lynn Wright is now touring the fruits of that bond, a massive facility off of Lehmberg Road which will soon be accepting studentsfor its tech center and job training programs aimed at supplying a well-educated and well-prepared workforce for local industry. The Lowndes County Career and Technical Center is estimated to be about 55 thousand square feet in size, and it cost about $11 million to construct: The Lowndes County Career and Technical Center.

“I’d say it’s about 95 percent finished,” maintenance supervisor Greg Wheat said, as finishing touches were being applied by the workers. The facility is expected to open formally next August, and it is estimated that it will be able to comfrotably hold about 500 students. They are also in the process of acquiring the gear needed to fill the huge workrooms, and to hire faculty and staff. Nine separate fields of study — automotive service technician, construction core, teacher academy, health sciences, industrial maintenance, welding, polymer science, culinary arts and engineering/robotics — have their own dedicated spaces, and each has the room they will need to expand in the future.

Maintenance Director Greg Wheat checks out the kitchen of the new LCSD Career Technology Center – Photo by Louisa Porter – Dispatch Staff

“Right now, we have a little less than 100 students in our vocational programs at the three high schools,” Wright said. “Next fall, we expect to have 450 students enrolled in programs here. . .We’ve been working closely with Mississippi State on developing the polymer science program since it’s new for us,” he went on to say. “They are helping us find an instructor in addition to helping us put together the program. . .”We really see this as something the whole community can use. Programs like the (Greater Columbus) Learning Center are already showing interest. . .We’re not just talking about [interest from] the PACCARs and Steel Dynamics, but smaller industries, too,” he said. “We’ve really had interest from all over the county, from big and small.”

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Starkville Looks to the Future with Plans for Expansion

Starkville Looks to the Future with Plans for Expansion

STARKVILLE  – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill, who took office a short six months back, recently addressed the local Rotary Club to speak about her intentions for the city’s future: “I’d like to say that everything we have going on is from my administration,” Spruill said, “but every administration builds on the administrations that come before. There were a lot of code changes that had to be made, especially in Parker’s first administration, that made a difference, no matter how you slice it.”

Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill talks with Stuart Vance after speaking to Starkville Rotarians at the Starkville Country Club Monday afternoon – Photo by Deanna Robinson -Dispatch Staff

She spoke of some significant achievements the city has made since her arrival on the scene this summer, such as the approval of $7 million in bonds to support the new industrial park, chnages to the billboard ordinances, and changes to the alcohol ordinance that expanded hours businesses can serve alcohol and reduced the minimum distance such businesses can be from a church, school or funeral home: “I realized it was controversial,” Spruill said. “I ran on this, it was part of my platform, because I thought that this was critical to allow the area of our downtown to bring in more restaurants.”

Spruill went on to speak, among other things, about an annexation study that could potentially increase the city’s population by as much as 25%:”This is purely a study,” Spruill said. “We are looking to see if it would be feasible with being exorbitantly expensive for residents or the city. We’re looking at people who are enjoying the benefits of living in an urban area without sharing the expenses that go along with it. My hope is that we find it feasible.”

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MSU and EMCC Working Together to Take Advantage of $3.11 Million Grant for Cybersecurity Scholarship

MSU and EMCC Working Together to Take Advantage of $3.11 Million Grant for Cybersecurity Scholarship

STARKVILLE, Miss.— Courtesy of EMCC

MSU and EMCC are joining forces to help educate highly-qualified students about cybersecurity, thanks to a $3.11 million grant from the National Science Foundation. MSU will be awarding two dozen of these highly-competitive scholarships to both their own students, and to a select few EMCC students who will be continuing their study in the field at MSU after graduating from EMCC. The end goal is to prepare these students with a thorough grounding in their chosen field, so that they may work as cybersecurity government experts as soon as possible after graduation.

“Mississippi State is a national leader in training top cybersecurity professionals, many of whom are on the front lines today fighting wide-ranging cyber threats in the private and public sectors, including very significant challenges to our national security,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “This grant will enable MSU, in partnership with EMCC, to further strengthen these important efforts.” “Mississippi State is a national leader in training top cybersecurity professionals, many of whom are on the front lines today fighting wide-ranging cyber threats in the private and public sectors, including very significant challenges to our national security,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “This grant will enable MSU, in partnership with EMCC, to further strengthen these important efforts.”

“These dollars will open doors for many outstanding students to seek education and employment in the expanding and vitally important field of cybersecurity,” EMCC President Thomas M. Huebner said. “We could not be more pleased than to partner with MSU and believe it will pay dividends for our students, the industries we serve, and the state of Mississippi.”

MSU is among the nation’s most prolific in terms of CyberCorps students, and the school has also been the source of over 70 peer-reviewed publications on the subject.

Please click here for the full article.

For more on the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Program, visit http://web.cse.msstate.edu/~hamilton/SFS/.

MSU : www.msstate.edu.

 

 

 

 

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