Category Archives: Columbus

To Buffet or Not To Buffet

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

While the Ryan’s Buffet building went up for sale a week ago,  their Director of Marketing, Mike Griffith, has announced the restaurant will be able to remain in operation until a final sale is made; it will be up to the buyer to decide whether or not to keep it open beyond that point. “It is not a certainty that the restaurant will close, as we are currently in negotiations with the landlord for a new lease agreement,” Griffith said. “A final decision to close the restaurant cannot be made until those negotiations are exhausted.”

Buyers have reportedly expressed interest in the site, and the current lease lasts until the end of June; Griffith denied a report claiming that the restaurant’s employees had been notified of the restaurant’s closure.

 

The landowner is currently asking approximately $900,000 for the site.

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Graham Roofing Gets New Owner; Books & Boards Closing Its Doors

Graham Roofing Gets New Owner; Books & Boards Closing Its Doors

Golden Triangle – Courtesy of The Dispatch

 

Christee Holbrook – courtesy photo

West Point’s own Graham Roofing has recently seen Christee Holbrook promoted to president and CEO, following her buyout of the company last month.  The business has been serving the needs of locals for fifty years, and one of its founding members has finally retired after all those years. Holbrook originally  joined the company in 1997 as an accountant.

Two others were also chosen as managing partners in order to help run the business: “I chose Christee Holbrook, Suzanne Richardson, and Johnathan Poland to lead Graham Roofing into the future because I knew GRI would have a leadership team with vision, integrity and professionalism,” Hooks said in a company press release. “There was no doubt they would use our company history as their foundation, along with their fresh vision for direction and their faith to take GRI into its next generation of success.”

The primary office will remain at 680 Tibbee Road in West Point, with Tupelo’s location as a satellite branch.

Books & Boards/Three Sisters Pie Company (Photo By Jeremy Hammack)

The people of Columbus are getting ready to say goodby to a much newer shop that has been bringing joy to the community since it first opened fewer than two years ago: Books & Boards, a combination of a small, cozy bookstore and a board gaming cafe. They have shared the space on Main Street with the Three Sisters Pie Company almost since the beginning, and the pie shop will remain open at that location. They will continue to host several of Books and Boards’ most popular events, including poetry open mic nights, bingo nights and trivia nights.

“We are so incredibly proud of the community that Books and Boards has cultivated,” Owner Ashley Gressett said. “I’m sad to see it go, but I’m excited to know that the community we built will still have a place at Three Sisters Pie.” Books and Boards will host a farewell party on April 28. Gressett said the event will be open to the public and include pizza, games and “lots of laughter to go around.”

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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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Neighborhood Popup Soup Kitchen Helps Local Children

Neighborhood Popup Soup Kitchen Helps Local Children

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

A group of generous locals have recently begun handing out food to those in need at 14th Ave & 20th St, not far from the Boys & Girls’ Club. They set up shop on Monday afternoons at around the time school lets out; they try to have about 50 meals made each week, and it’s all paid for out of their own pockets, plus the occasional donation.

Shannon Scott gives Leon Brewer a sandwich on 14th Avenue Monday afternoon. A different member of the group supplies the food each week.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

“It’s free, baby,” Willie “Sweet” Scott assured a young girl and her two siblings as he and his friend Charles Clemmons saw to it they each had evertything they needed.

“It was set up kind of for the kids, but we don’t turn away (any)body,” Clemmons said. “I wouldn’t want to miss somebody, tell somebody, ‘No you’re too old.’ That may be his only meal. People (are) hungry sometimes coming through the neighborhood.”

The group sets up their stand on Mondays from 3-5 p.m. where they give away whatever they’ve prepared that week.

“I’m just happy to be out here doing what I can and kind of helping,” fellow volunteer Shannon Scott said. “Of course, you run into all sorts of characters. You got your ones who want something for nothing and then you’ve got people who come and you know they really need it. They make it all worth it.”

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La Quinta Planning to Open On Hwy 45 by May

La Quinta Planning to Open On Hwy 45 by May

Columbus, MS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Construction continues on the La Quinta Inn in Columbus Monday. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

The construction of the new La Quinta hotel on the site formerly occupied by the Ramada Inn will soon be completed, with the opening of the hotel quickly to follow.

John Tampa, owner of the La Quinta hotel which is currently under construction at the site of the former Ramada Inn at 1200 Hey 45 N, recently announced, “We’re looking at opening in mid-May . . . Like any projects, there have been some delays, but we’re back on schedule.”

Contractor Larry Holden reports that “The interior units are about 90-percent complete.” He noted that one of the aforementioned inevitable delays was a result of code issues leftover from the prior tenants: “It’s something that happens with older buildings,” he said. “A lot of times you don’t know about them until you get into the demolition. That was what happened here.”

Kenneth Wiegel, the city’s building inspector, stated that “Once they got into demolition, there was an electrical code issue that had to be corrected . . .Then there was some post-tension concrete issues that they had to bring in an expert to deal with. Both of those issues have been addressed.”

The construction is anticipated to be complete by late April, in time for the 105-room facility to open in mid-May.

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Manufacturing Business Has Blossomed in Golden Triangle in Last Decade

Manufacturing Business Has Blossomed in Golden Triangle in Last Decade

 

 

Golden Triangle – Courtesy of Harvard Business School

Over a dozen Harvard Business School faculty, led by Dean Nitin Nohria and Senior Associate Dean for Research Jan Rivkin, came to the Golden Triangle last fall to take an in-depth look into just why our area’s manufacturing business has blossomed to impressively over the past decade. Our area has a labor pool of approximately 500,000 people within a 60-mile radius, a bustling regional airport, several sizeable colleges and universities nearby, and plenty of usable land. The GTR region has brought in nearly six billion dollars in investments and industry in that time, and outsiders have been paying more and more attention: “There are so many good things happening in this area of the country,” said Rivkin. “It’s a story of leadership, cross-sector collaboration, and local competitiveness. This corner of Mississippi is competing for global firms, and often it’s winning.”

Prof Mitch Weiss, Dean Nitin Nohria, Joe Max Higgins, and Prof Jan Rivkin – courtesy photo

Rivkin’s attention was first brought to the region due to a 2016 article in the Atlantic, which prompted him to write to the fine folks at our own GTR LINK. He and others had been studying similar successes abroad, and were excited for the opportunity to learn more about something more home-grown: “We realized that we had a much better understanding of other parts of the world than we had of certain parts of America,” Rivkin recalled. “HBS faculty members used to spend a lot of time visiting those parts of the country, but we had lost touch. There was a stark need for us to reconnect with these areas and learn about them, and from them, in a changing social and political context.”

They found the people of GTR area welcoming and eager to share their knowledge: “Not only were they enormously gracious and hospitable,” Rivkin said. “They were eager for us to come and learn more.” They worked closely with the LINK to arrange times for their sixteen members to visit on October 30 and 31 of last year.

“Many of the faculty, including Dean Nohria and Professor Rivkin, intentionally selected the Golden Triangle because of the significant economic development there in the last few years,” said Alain Bonacossa, Senior Director for Research Administration and Behavioral Research Services at HBS. “They wanted to understand how that came about so they could bring those lessons to bear in the classroom and for other communities in their research.”

They began by attending a series of meetings in Columbus hosted by LINK’s charismatic CEO, Joe Max Higgins: “In the economic development business,” he explained, “coming in second equals coming in last.” They then proceeded to visit EMCC and MSU to learn about their own advancements in student training and close work with manufacturers; they also went to visit some local plants to see their work up close and personal.

Rivkin summed up his takeaways from his time well-spent in the GTR as such: “Leaders in the Golden Triangle have developed trust and hope, and it shows in the novel ways they work together . . . The Golden Triangle folks helped me see that if you’re going to be in a game like this, you’d better be very well organized and very talented. And they are .”

The HBS contingent – courtesy photo

He also said that, having read and heard many good things about our area and its focus on attracting business, these things were proven true: “You always wonder when you go to a place that’s received such glowing reviews if it will live up to its billing. The Golden Triangle did and then some.”

Joe Max Higgins has even returned the favor, going up to Harvard to spread a little of his wisdom around: “Students were deeply impressed by the collaboration shown in GTR’s revitalization, and they learned a lot about leadership from their time with Joe Max and Macaulay,” Professor Kerr said. “Their southern charm and humor also made for a riotously fun day.”

Rivkin finished by saying that “Many of the ideas from trips like these percolate in the backs of our minds and, eventually, find their way into research or teaching,” he said. “There are short-term and long-term benefits, and it’s a win-win for everyone involved. Getting out into the world is vitally important for our work here on campus.”

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Columbus Airbus Receives Major Helicopter Program Contract

Columbus Airbus Receives Major Helicopter Program Contract

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Courtesy of WCBI

Courtesy of WCBI

The Columbus Airbus Plant announced that they are to receive a $200+ million grant to help them launch a second helicopter line; they will be producing 35 UH-72A helicopters for the U.S. Army. The Army will also be contributing, to the tune of about $136 million for the production of the new aircraft. The aircraft are expected to be completed by 2021.

Talented workforce in Columbus MS will produce new UH-72A helicopters for the @USArmy. @SenatorWicker @RepTrentKelly & I announced $273.2 million contract: https://t.co/xlpqFbsteT

— Senator Thad Cochran (@SenThadCochran) March 9, 2018

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BREAKING NEWS! Budweiser Clydesdales to Trot on Down to Columbus

Budweiser Clydesdales to Trot on Down to Columbus

Columbus – Courtesy of Budweiser.com

The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales. Photo courtesy of the TCPalm/by Jamie Jackson

The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales will be coming to the Columbus area from April 17th to the 22nd. Sources indicate that they will most likely be touring in both Columbus and Starkville at various times during the week. Come on out and see these legends in person, and bring your camera!

Please note that both Super Bulldog Weekend in Starkville, and the Air Show at Columbus Air Force Base are also happening that weekend

Please click here for their official site

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VIDEO: Manufacturing Renaissance Fully Under Way in Golden Triangle

Manufacturing Renaissance Fully Under Way in Golden Triangle[VIDEO]

Courtesy of The Atlantic

GTR LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins (courtesy photo)

The Columbus area, a long-time center of manufacturing in the region, lost many of the core businesses that kept driving it forward in the early 2000’s, as many of the manufacturing jobs fled overseas. However, the people of this area have worked hard to do something about that. The results began to show in earnest in the early 2010’s, as more and more factories have been coming to town, and the end is nowhere in sight!

Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the GTR LINK, noted that that sort of economic turnaround is “something just doesn’t typically happen in places this small and this rural in the South.” Here in Columbus, we’re proud to be bucking that trend.

Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows and contributing writer Deborah Fallows have spent three years exploring small town America by air, “taking seriously places that don’t usually get registered seriously.”

Please click here for the video.

Please click here for the full article.

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WAUKAWAY SPRINGS BUILDING TO BE RENOVATED

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The Waukaway Springs Bottling Company is in the process of restoring its College Street warehouse building to as close to its original look as possible.

Jataune James sorts and cleans bricks at Waukaway Springs in Columbus Tuesday afternoon. Waukaway Springs is being restored to its former look. The building formerly housed Brown Buick Company. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Stephen Imes, Waukaway Springs president and owner, said, “Right now, we have the mindset of taking it back to what it looked like in the 40s. We really just want to bring it back to its former glory.” He stated that the interior wil lbe renovated and repaired, and some remodeling will be done to the exterior; in addition, extensive repairs will be done to the roof, which was beginning to cave in. Among the fixes will be structural reinforcements, such as replacing old wooden beams with steel ones.

He went on to say that they have been reclaiming as much of the original building materials as possible, and that they plan to re-use them as part of this project: “Several different types of brick have come out of this process,” Imes said. “We have seen a variety of manufacturers’ work, and we plan to use as much of it as we can.” He said that his  employees are sorting and cleaning every brick by hand in the warehouse for reuse.

“We did have a picture of the Brown Buick Company to base our renovations off of,” Jim Buck Vaughan, the project contractor said. “But it’s mainly making sure we update the building, without making it entirely too modern to where it does not match the other buildings in the area.”

The building is expected to reopen in about three months, or early summer.

Please click here to view the full article.

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