Category Archives: West Point

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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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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GT Regional Airport Doing Record Business

GT Regional Airport Doing Record Business

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Warren Housley, left, visits with Golden Triangle Regional Airport Director Mike Hainsey. The airport director spoke to Starkville Rotary Club on Monday. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Golden Triangle Regional Airport Director Mike Hainsey recently spoke to the Starkville Rotary Club, where he told them that the airport has been doing record business: “Last month, we put more people on airplanes than any other October in the history of the airport,” he said. “That was a big number — we were running 90 percent full. … This month, we’re doing the same, which means we’ll have another record month. We’ll have a record November, if it continues.”

The airport, has done about $3.5 million in improvements in the last 18 months. Hainsey said that the improvements include work on the commercial and general aviation ramps, as well as a taxiway renovation that should finish this week. GTRA is also replacing old ramp and terminal lightning with more modern, energy efficient lights.

A 4,000 sq ft expansion is also in the works:”Our plan for the future is, as the airport grows, we’ll have bigger airplanes and we’ll need jet bridges so we’ll move everything upstairs,” he said.

He did note, however, that a shortage of pilots for the major airlines is likely to cause business to suffer in the future – especially for GTR and other smaller, regional airports: “This is, for us in the business, the single biggest threat to air service at my airport,” Hainsey said.


While airports are able to offer incentives to get more flights coming through them, the issue isn’t that, so much as the fact that the pilot population is dwindling as more and more pilots reach the mandatory pilot retirement age of 65. “They told me they have no new markets out of Dallas this next year,” he said. “They don’t know if they can man their existing markets. They can’t grow if they can’t — until it’s sure what’s going to happen with the pilot shortage. It’s getting that bad.”

“The bottom line on all this–for us to get air service, we have to take it from someone else,” he said. ” … For us to get air service, we’ll have to convince the airlines they’ll make more money at GTR than they will at other places. So we’re working that. We have a good case.”

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Atmos Energy Moving, Consolidating GTR Offices Into One New Location

Atmos Energy Moving, Consolidating GTR Offices Into One New Location

GTR Area – Courtesy of the Dispatch –

Atmos Energy, its Columbus office shown here, is working on consolidating its three Golden Triangle offices into one central location by spring.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Michelle Whittle has stated that Atmos plans to consolidate three of their three existing “District 45” offices (The GTR plus Monroe & Tupelo Counties) into one new office, once funding has been finalized: “Our plans are for us to begin construction on our new office hopefully by spring,” Whittle said. “We most likely will sell the other three facilities.” The proposed new location is planned to be located next to Wade Construction on South Frontage Road, a few miles west of Columbus, and is expected to hold about fifty employees. The new location will serve Clay, Lowndes, and Oktibbeha counties.

The location is also a bit more centralized, and Whittle remarked that advancements in technology have made it easier to handle a spread-out service team more easily from a single dispatching area. The new office is intended to make much better use of space (for example, it will not serve as a showroom for selling heaters and similar products like the old office(s).

“All of us will move,” she went on to say. “Every one of us — we have about 28 employees. We all will begin reporting to the new office. We’re all excited about it. It’s going to be really nice.”

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Local Florist Picked to Help Brighten Up the White House

Local Florist Picked to Help Brighten Up the White House

Courtesy of The Dispatch – West Point, MS


West Point florist Scott Reed, owner of Petal Pushers recently received official word from The White House last week that he was accepted into the 2017 holiday volunteer program.

West Point florist Scott Reed has been selected to decorate the White House for Christmas. He owns Petal Pushers floral shop. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

“I’ve always worked with design,” Reed said. “And I just remember hearing about this program years ago and thinking ‘how neat would it be to be a part of something like this?'”

He will serve as part of a volunteer team that will go up to the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue for a four-day decorating spree, along with others who have successfully petitioned to do so. “It was really exciting to see something that I’ve wanted to do for so long come to be,” Reed said. “But I was automatically a little bit nervous because, well, I’m decorating the White House.” He has applied for the program multiple times since 2000, and was elated that he has finally be selected to help.

Reed went to MSU, where he earned a degree in ornamental horticulture. This eventually led to his opening Petal Pushers, a shop that specializes in making floral arrangements, as well as selling gifts, collectibles, and antiques to go along with them. His shop is located at 651 Commerce St.

“I’m just so honored to be chosen to do this, especially after trying unsuccessfully a few times,” Reed said. “I know my staff is just as excited as I am too.”

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New Industry May Be Coming to Clay County, Bringing 300 Jobs

New Industry May Be Coming to Clay County, Bringing 300 Jobs

WEST POINT, Miss. (Courtesy of WCBI)

WCBI reports that a potential industrial development project deal that is currently being negotiated might provide a significant economic boost to Clay County.

West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson (courtesy of WCBI)

West Point selectmen and Clay County supervisors met Tuesday morning to hash out the details of a deal that has the potential to bring 300 or so jobs to the Golden Triangle area. The proposed deal is being referred to as “Project Polar” (the name of the potential employer is being kept under wraps until everything is 100% finalized). The proposed site for this $50 million project is the former Americold Logistics building, which would be purchased and upgraded by the incoming business.

Wesley Taylor, long-time West Point resident, commented that he was pleased to hear about this potential economic opportunity for his hometown. “I was very excited and happy for the community because in today’s economy everybody needs to be working if they can,” Taylor expressed.

West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson stated that “We feel we’ve done our part. We’ve offered industrial ad valorem tax exemptions for this new industry that we’re pleased with, and think we’ll be able to bring them here to West Point and Clay County.”

The city and county are working with the GTR LINK to bring in the project. CEO Joe Max Higgins said the actions the city and county made on Tuesday were vital at this stage. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with community leaders in West Point and Clay County to make our region a better place to work and live,” he said.


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Infinity Megasite Could Be an Excellent Car Plant Location, Says GTR LINK

Infinity Megasite Could Be an Excellent Car Plant Location, Says GTR LINK

Courtesy of The Dispatch

Toyota and Mazda announced just a few weeks ago that they are  looking and a number of sites nationwide to build a joint auto production plant. Our own Joe Max Higgins says that the recently-set up Infinity Megasite (IMS) right here in the Golden Triangle is the best candidate within the State of Mississippi for such a project. The IMS now controls 1,444 acres of the Golden Triangle Industrial Aerospace Park on Hwy 82 west of Columbus: “We believe that if Mississippi’s putting its best foot forward, we’re probably the first pick,” Higgins said.

Joe Max Higgins, left, and Harry Sanders

While the proposed plant is still in its very earliest days of consideration, Bloomberg seems to agree saying that the IMS could very well be one of the top few candidates for the $1.6 billion project, which is expected to bring roughly 4,000 jobs to the general area.

“Understand this –Toyota’s not an unknown commodity,” Higgins said. “. . .If Toyota knocks on your door, you open it and you offer them some coffee, some Coke, some pastries if you got them and you say ‘What can I do for you?'”

Lowndes BoS  President Harry Sanders said that, “The thing about it is, think what it would do for Lowndes County and this portion of the Golden Triangle, with all the high-quality jobs. I think it would be great to get an automotive industry here.”

“In Mississippi, look at the battles that have been won,” Higgins said. “If we roll the clock back 20 years, most people would tell you there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell Mississippi could get a car plant. But in 15, 16 years we’ve gotten two (Nissan in Canton, Toyota in Blue Springs). I think that’s a good testament to the state of Mississippi. Could we support a third one? Yeah, I think we could.”

He also stated his confidence in the region’s ability to meet the potential plant’s needs, and that its proximity to MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, could also be a major factor in any decision to be made: “Everybody wants to sell that their workforce can be retrained to make steel, or retrained to make cars or retrained to make tires,” Higgins said. “I don’t think most communities are selling that 20-, 30- and 40-year sustainable workforce. See, I’m not worried about where I’m getting my initial tranche of people to run my plant. These plants are worried about who’s gonna be running that son of a gun in 10, 15, or 20 or 40 years.”


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West Point’s Hwy 45 Corridor Thriving

West Point’s Hwy 45 Corridor Thriving

WEST POINT, Miss. (Courtesy of WTVA)

Ever since Yokohama opened for business on the North side of town in 2015, the area’s South side along Hwy 45 has been booming, reports Lisa Klutts, the director of The Community Development Growth Alliance. She says that more business openings are on the way: “Burger King opened just under a year ago, Express Lube opened just recently and Love’s truck stop with Arby’s will be opening in May.”

The Growth Alliance said  that Burger King on Highway 45 surmounted national record sales on its opening day. “It seems like a pretty good business move to me, if they’re in it to make money,” said driver David Nelson.

The Growth Alliance said they watch trends to see if businesses are expanding in the state. “We would like to see more shoe stores or clothing stores,” said Klutts. There are currently no public plans to bring such stores to the area (yet), but, at the city grows and the Golden Triangle becomes more and more attractive to big business, who knows what the future may hold…?

All we know is, that’s good for the Golden Triangle, and that’s Good for Business!

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Southern Cross Seeks to Bring Eco-Friendly Wind Power to the Golden Triangle

Southern Cross Seeks to Bring Eco-Friendly Wind Power to the Golden Triangle

Courtesy of the Dispatch

From left, Denton Gibbes, Cecil Brown and Brandon Presley. Courtesy Photos

Southern Cross Transmission (SCT) filed a petition with the Mississippi Public Service Commission on Tuesday formally proposing a route for the company’s 400-mile, 500-kilovolt wind energy line. The project would still need to be approved by the Public Service Commission to OK the project; there is currently no timeline for when such a vote might take place.

SCT has been in talks with landowners along a proposed route that runs from Texas, through Louisiana and Mississippi, terminating near Caladonia. The project is anticipated to have a total cost of about one billion dollars, according to an independent economic analysis Southern Cross commissioned back in December.

“It’s taken a little extra time because we’ve done a lot of interaction with landowners and we have worked to find an acceptable route,” Southern Cross spokesperson Denton Gibbes said. “It always takes a little time when you’re trying to do things right.”

The proposed route enters the Golden Triangle in the western Oktibbeha County, then moves northeast into Clay County, and then north of West Point into Monroe County near Hamilton. Then it enters Lowndes County and ends at a converter station to be built near Caledonia.

The Eastern portion of the currently-proposed route, terminating near Caledonia

Gibbes went on to say that landowners along the potential route will soon receive letters from the company to let them know about the proposal, in order to give them time to sumbit any questions or objections they may have, and, eventually, to allow them to consider easements that would allow the project to take place.

Commissioner Cecil Brown said, “I think it’s an exciting project in general terms. . . It sounds like it will be good for the people in the state of Mississippi, but again I’ve got to look at the filings. We’ll probably have hearings on it. There may be some objectors. It can take a while to get through something like this.”

Until the project is approved, citizens can object by mailing letters with their reasons for intervening to PSC Executive Secretary Katherine Collier at P.O. Box 1174 in Jackson.

Public Service Commissioner for Mississippi’s Northern District Brandon Presley was unavailable for comment, but he has previously said that he would only support the project if the company built the converter station in Mississippi, if Mississippians have access to the power running through the transmission lines, and if Mississippi contractors are included in labor contracts.

“To me the trade-off is if you want to come in and do this, we’ll look at it, but you’ve got to meet a public interest burden,” Presley said in November. “The burden for that is what does the state of Mississippi — what do you get out of it? Are you just coming through our area or are we going to see development and real job growth?”

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Owner of Waverly Mansion Has Passed On

courtesy photo


Robert Snow, the owner of the historic Waverley Mansion in Clay County passed away Sunday evening.

He and his family have spent decades restoring the the Antebellum home since purchasing it in 1962.

The home and the Snow Family have been awarded a number of honors for historic restoration and preservation.

Waverley is open for tours and is often a venue for weddings and other events.

Services for Snow are being handled by Calvert Funeral Home in West Point.

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