Local firm TGV Properties, owned by Tom Velek and his wife Cynthia Buob, recently acquired the structure adjoining the old Fred’s location (which we wrote about recently) at 322 Fifth St. S. This will be the largest project thus far for this veteran development group. Veleks says that the plans are to renovate the space and make available 1,400 sq ft of commercial space on the first floor, a pair of 1-bedropm apartments above it, and to turn the rear section of the building into the business district’s first 2-story apartment. He went on to say that, “We have found that there is a real need for small commercial space . . . There are a lot of small businesses that need an affordable, small office space still in downtown. … We really like the mixed-use model and we feel that our record proves that there is a need for small business in downtown.”
TGV will be working with a Jacquelin Lee, a 3rd year university student, in order to properly examine and document the structure for historical purposes, including the possibility of obtaining a historic tax credit from MDAH in exchange for maintaining construction standards in accordance with their historical and architectural requirements.
“I think it helps us remember where we’ve been as a community and understand that journey that we’ve taken as a community,” MSU architecture professor John Poros said. “By doing this kind of historic renovation, it helps us to keep landmarks that are important to people’s memories of Columbus. So we’re helping to make sure that sort of the character of downtown Columbus, that we have a representation from this period of time in downtown Columbus.”
“For me, it’s because it’s my neighborhood,” Velek commented. “It’s where I live. I live around the corner. My company’s largest investment is around the corner. . . Ultimately, renovation and developments of downtown properties in a city like Columbus is going to come by local people. The city, city council, everybody has to support those local people who do it because there’s no big box retailer coming in to fix one of these properties. . . Local people will have to step up and do this kind of thing or it’s not going to get done.”
Local entrepreneur Jim Mauldin recently purchased the old Fred’s location on 5th St South in Columbus. He plans to create a climate-controlled self-storage facility there in order to serve residents and businesses in the area: “There are lots of people who have downtown apartments, who have small houses on North- and Southside,” he said. “… We’re looking for everybody, but that’s the market we’re intending to be able to serve. So having the downtown community was a factor in us deciding to move to service this area, and we want to be part of that community also.”
Renovations to the site have already begun, including knocking out interior walls and removing the old drop ceiling, revealing the original barrel-vaulted one that is original to the structure. Mauldin has also explained that, once he can get the hard-to-find materials, he plans to redo the facade with “a black … 1920s vintage-style glass that goes around the outside of the window frames,” he said. His plan is to do work on the site that will conform to the standards set forth by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The building itself will be renamed the “Freeheart Building,” in honor of its original name, the Freeheart Bakery, founded in 1948. “We’re going to restore (the building) back to a really good look that will be a good anchor for this corner and style, and still be able to (run) it as a commercial building,” Mauldin said. “It’ll be nicely lit, it’ll be clean, it’ll be fresh,” he said. “It will have a tilt of the hat, as a commercial building today, to the way it looked when it was really in use back then.”
Husband and wife team George (an engineer) and Judy East (accountant) founded East Systems, Inc., a local electronic components company just over a quarter-century ago, quickly moving from their own garage to a facility out on Hwy 69. Now, thanks to the LINK and The Mississippi Development Authority, they have been expanding their facilities in order to accommodate bigger and better projects in order to keep up with the demand for their goods. The LINK was instrumental in helping them to obtain an $89,800 grant which allowed them to start construction. The company produces items such as control panels and wiring for large mining operations, and the expansion will make it possible for them to handle larger jobs, and more of them, for bigger clients.
As with many entrepreneurs, the couple has had to work hard in order to get this far: “I’m an accountant and I’m very conservative,” Judy said. “(George) has been saying for the past two or three years that we really need to add on and I’ve been putting it off. Every time, I talked him out of it because it hasn’t always been a glorious ride. We’ve had to use up a lot of our savings just to keep our doors open and our employees paid over the years…He kept telling me, ‘If we are going to move forward and get this other work, we’re going to have to add on.'”
The company currently has ten employees, but they are looking to hire more as the expansion progresses. The grant has already begun paying off, as they have now landed a contract with a client company that they would not have been able to properly accommodate as little as a year ago: George remarked that, “You grow as the jobs grow. But this really gives us a chance to get those jobs…We’re looking for workers right now.” Their workers typically earn from about $39~$62 thousand a year.
“These are local people with good-paying jobs,” Joe Max Higgins of the LINK said. “That’s something we want to promote. It’s not always about these big industries. Folks like the Easts are very important, too.”
GOLDEN TRIANGLE REGION – Courtesy of the Dispatch Local boutiques Little Magnolia Co. and Cobalt’s Boutique recently moved to their new digs in adjoining suites located at 124 Fifth St. S. in Columbus. Magnolia deals in children’s clothing, while Cobalt’s sells women’s attire. Both shops open up at 11am Tuesday through Saturday.
Financial service company Benjamin F. Edwards has officially opened their new office at 2400 Military Road in Columbus. “We take enormous pride in welcoming these new advisors to our ever-growing Edwards family,” CEO Tad Edwards said in a press release. “We are equally as thrilled in adding yet another branch to the state of Mississippi in the wonderful community of Columbus.”
In other news, the Belk corporation is preparing to undergo a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization process. They have stated that they have no plans to close any stores nor to lay off any employees. The process is anticipated to take until the end of this February: “As the ongoing effects of the pandemic have continued, we’ve been assessing potential options to protect our future,” CEO Lisa Harper said. “We’re confident that this agreement puts us on the right long-term path toward significantly reducing our debt and providing us with greater financial flexibility to meet our obligations and to continue investing in our business, including further enhancements and additions to Belk’s omnichannel capabilities.” The plan is for the Columbus location to remain in business as usual.
In Starkville, Humble Taco has opened their doors at the former City Bagel location, 511 University Drive. For now, they will be open for dinner at 5PM Tuesdays through Saturdays. “This is not your average Mexican restaurant; we are a blend of modern Mexican and the American South,” Chef Ty Thames stated. “We can’t wait for you to try our signature sweet potato flour tortillas, Mexican cornbread, smoked meats, sauces and more.”
In a recent address to the Columbus Rotary Club, LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins Talked about a number of companies that are prepared to invest a combined total of $2.3 billion into Lowndes County: “With the exception of one, maybe two, they’re deep, deep into the process,” Higgins told The Dispatch. “In other words, if they pick us, they’re going to start building this year.” Five of the prospective investors are looking at the Industrial Park near GTRA, while the sixth is looking at the Lowndes County Port. The two largest investments would make up the bulk of the proposed $2.3 billion investment.
The BOS has indicated that they are in favor of these projects: “My standard mode of operations when (Higgins) comes to us with projects and explains them to us is that I tend to be very supportive,” District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks said.
“We’re open for business, and it’s nice to see that people are interested in looking at what we have to offer,” Board President Trip Hairston added. “We have a lot to offer, really good infrastructure, and we’re poised to really grow.”
Most of the projects are currently at the “due diligence” stage; while none of them are 100% confirmed, the chances of these working out seems to be high: “It’s not like they’re looking at 500 towns and we might get picked,” Higgins said. “They hand-selected a few towns and we’re one of them.”
New major investment in the county means more jobs and greater prosperity for our region, and THAT’S Good for Business!
Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins recently spoke to the Columbus Rotary Club about bringing more big business to the Golden Triangle area. He noted that the TVA and MDA’s roles in this process have been waning in recent years, with the LINK picking up much of their slack: “In the last several years, if we weren’t making (a deal), it wasn’t getting made,” he said. However, things are looking up, as the TVA has shown renewed interest in the area.
Everything from power to heavy industry to food to distribution – something which has become more and more important due to the pandemic – are things that the LINJK has been working hard to try and bring to our area. Distribution (e.g. coordination of packages sent by Amazon and the like), in particular, is an industry which does not really have much of a presence in the area at all” “Everybody’s ordering everything on Amazon right now, more than they did before,” Higgins said.
On the edible side of things, Peco Foods recently announced that it will be pulling up stakes at its Brooksville plant and incorporating those operations into their West Point facility. The plan is to expand it and to move as many as 400 jobs to the WP location. “We’ve kind of got a reputation and people know who we are,” Higgins went on to say. “On any given deal, we work it ourselves. These two distribution centers I’m talking about — TVA didn’t bring them and MDA didn’t bring them. They came to see us.”
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GOLDEN TRIANGLE REGION, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch
Kyle McConnell, owner of local transit company McConnell Brothers Transfer and Storage, has retired and sold his business to his daughter, Suzy McConnell Robertson, and son-in-law, Chad Thomas. The Mayflower agency will continue its services uninterrupted, offering moving services and storage for residents, future residents, and businesses of all sizes. Thomas remarked that they “look forward to continuing to provide excellent service in North Mississippi, West Alabama, our local communities and our military members worldwide.” They’re currently looking into expanding their warehousing and freight capacities.
New Hope’s Double S Diesel Service opened for business in October. They offer on-site services for diesel semis, farm equipment, forklifts, and the like. They are available 247, and the shop is owned by Owners Spence Wallingford and Blake Moore.
Lee’s Creative Studio is planning to open up shop at a physical location in February; Owner Lee Allen reports that he is doing business remotely for clients in need of quality commercials. While the business is just getting off the ground, he’s already started working on a job for the local Mom & Pop food truck.
Cyber-security provider HORNE Cyber has taken over the former GLO building on East Lampkin St. Office Partner Mike Skinner says that they’re been around for five years and moved to the new digs in order to accommodate their growing business. Their office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
GOLDEN TRIANGLE REGION, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch
Recently-retired teacher Stephanie Studdard will soon be opening a women’s boutique, Bella Blu, at 427 Wilkins Wise Road: “I decided teachers never retire,” Studdard said. “I decided that I wanted to do something that I enjoyed–that just came to mind.” The shop will carry items such as clothing, jewelry, and so on for high school girls and women. Bella Blu will be open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Brandy Granderson, who has worked in physical therapy and as an in-home healthcare professional, recently opened Essential Safety Consultants in Columbus. Her service’s goal is to help seniors to help improve their homes in order to minimize the risk of potentially dangerous falls: “Our target is to prevent falls with seniors,” Granderson said. “What we do is go out and perform a 125-point safety check. It’s a survey where we go into great detail of things they can do to eliminate risk factors in the home. We go out and consult with them about modifications they can make to try and prevent falls.” She can be reached at 662-346-1253; please call for a quote.
AJ’s Get it & Go BBQ at 28 Box End Road W. opened up to feed plenty of hungry people earlier this year. The family-owned restaurant offers carry-out and delivery service as well as outdoor dining. Mondays through Thursdays 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Fridays from 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
GOLDEN TRIANGLE REGION, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch
Boardtown Pizza and Pints has officially opened its doors at 705 University Drive, Suite C this past Monday. They serve a variety of items such as pizza, hummus, falafel, pita moz, dog bowl nachos (yes, in a dog bowl), and over thirty beers on tap. “It feels great,” owner Tyler Klaas said. “The nerves are still up there because we don’t know what’s going to happen. … We’re really hoping that the people that live here will come out and support us.” They will be holding a Grand Opening on Friday, Nov 13. The venue is open from 11AM ~ 11PM daily.
Two restaurants are in the planning stages. Captain D’s on Hwy 12, which burned down a few months ago, will be moving to the old Payless Shoes building at 812 Hwy 12. Sonic, which is next door to the old D’s, plans to use their combined lots to build a new facility.
Cobalt’s Boutique and Little Magnolia Co. will be moving into the former Steel Forest Furniture location on 5th Street S.
Meanwhile, Prestige Event Rentals moved from Second Street to 530 Hwy. 45 S. around a month ago or so. The new location is over triple the size of their prior store, and was made possible due to an uptick in business.
GOLDEN TRIANGLE REGION, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch
Local family-owned company Union Climate Control Storage, 106 Yorkville Road E., has announced that they will soon be expanding their storage options, with units being made available for RVs, boats, and trailers. They plan to have them ready in about a month or so. “All of this was in the plan,” owner Andrew Benton said. “We have plans to purchase more properties but have nothing official yet. We have other residential rental places, but this is a pretty solid business. We like it a lot.”
Southern Kneads, 1920 Hwy. 45 N., Suite 5, has opened their doors. Licensed massage therapist Markey Wright-Dillard runs the operation, and is currently taking appointments (no walk-ins for now) for 30- and 90- minute therapeutic massages. The company also offers ear candling and exfoliating body scrubs. “As a licensed massage therapist I always wanted to eventually own my own little place and offer products and services to my clients,” Wright-Dillard said. “My clients’ well-being is my No. 1 priority and I look forward to seeing what’s in store for Southern Kneads LLC.”
Malco on 45 is offering private screenings of both classic and contemporary movies. For $100, you can bring a reasonable crowd to see “Star Wars: ESB”, Raiders of the Lost Ark”, and others. $150 gets you the same deal for a group to see more recent flicks such as “Tenet” or “The Kid Detective.” Please check their Malco website to view the full list of films available via this program.
Kimberly Chase and Kathy Williams are taking over the Just for Ladies consignment shop over the next few weeks following the original owner’s retirement: “Of course we jumped at the chance to move from customers to owners,” Chase said. “Kathy and I have been best friends for over 30 years and have always dreamed of opening a consignment store. Raising families, we both understand the need a consignment store can fill in our community. Anita passing the torch to us is Heaven sent. We get to fulfill our dream while continuing hers.”
They plan to keep the place mostly as-is, including the embroidery services the shop offers. One notable change will be the name: Point City Consignment will be at 5761 Hwy. 45 Alt. S starting in early November. Their grand opening will be on Nov. 6 from 4-7 p.m. Their regular store hours will be Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.