When Big Business is Small Business

When Big Business is Small Business

The Superbowl has not always been my favorite time of year. You see, I spent a good bit of my formative years in the pizza business, and Superbowl Sunday is traditionally the busiest day of the year, sometimes painfully busy – as the linked story from WCBI will attest, below. The funny part about it then, and about it now, is hearing friend and coworkers laud, ” Papa John must be printing money today – and he ain’t doin’ nuttin!! ”

John Schnatter (AKA Papa John) does indeed make some money off of the local stores. He earned that right 30 years ago when he built the company. However, the lion’s share of the reward is earned by local owners who worked for their money and took a risk on a franchise. Like most towns in Mississippi, Starkville and Columbus have the majority of restaurant chains owned by local folks. A local businessman or manager took the chance to buy into a chain to see if he could defy the odds and make a living.

The Papa John's team celebrates the launch of its Quality Guarantee at Super Bowl 50. (Graphic courtesy of Business Wire)

Schnatter, far right, and his team enjoying the sweet taste of victory. (Graphic courtesy of Business Wire)

Most franchises fail within a few years, often leaving the proprietor in very poor shape for his gamble. There are hundreds of locals who have lost their life savings taking a shot on a cafe, sandwich shop, or fast food joint. Buffalo Wild Wings, The Grill, McDonald’s, Subway, Papa John’s, and others all have local franchisees as their roots. The tax money stays in the state. They participate in the community by sponsoring soccer teams and school functions. The owners, quite often, live in your neighborhood; they might even go to church with you. Many of the chains that we routinely view as giants are, in reality, just as local as our favorite watering hole or dry cleaner.

Ask around, and keep a sharp eye out for locally owned “big businesses.” When you find one, thanks them for investing in our community. Their big, small business is good for our tax base, good for our community and great for business.


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Hope Community Church Begins Construction on Main Street

Construction begins at the location of the former Varsity Inn

Construction begins at the location of the former Varsity Theater

Kudos to Hope Community Church for their investment in downtown Columbus! This should help a ton for all downtown business owners, especially on the North side of Main St.

Also, give some love to Main Street Columbus, Inc. for their support of all the small businesses – and churches – that make our downtown the best in Mississippi! Barbara Bigelow and Amber Murphree Brislin, thanks for all you do!!

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Smith’s Landscaping, Renasant Bank Ready To Roll

Smith Landscaping is open now at their new location

Smith’s Landscaping is now open for business at their new location. Please pardon the dust as they create a bigger and better store!

Two cornerstones of the Columbus economy, Renasant Bank & Smith’s Landscaping, have got new locations for their customers to visit. Smith’s moved from their longtime location on 18th Avenue North next to the Cracker Barrel to the former Barnhill’s restaurant site on the corner of 18th and 7th Street North. The family-owned garden shop sold their old lot to a group that plans to build a state-of-the-art Burger King later this year.

The Commercial Dispatch’s William Browning – the preeminent business writer in our region – has a nice piece on Renasant’s new branch attached below:

(It’s worth noting that I ran into Smith’s #1 crew at the nearby bank branch Thursday, they were hustling to get the finishing touches done for a upcoming Grand Opening event. Kudos to Renasant for using a local business for the job!!- CK)

Renasant Bank has opened a new Columbus location.

The branch is at 595 18th Avenue North — that’s beside Logan’s Roadhouse, across from Cracker Barrel.

Renasant Bank's newest location

Renasant Bank’s newest location

“We needed a location that was more convenient to the Highway 45 North corridor and could also serve the medical community,” Bill West, the bank’s president, told The Dispatch this week. “Having access to Sixth Street North, through the Creekside complex, was a big factor in our location decision, as well.” The bank purchased the last parcel available in the Creekside Development from Mark Castleberry, a local developer, to build the 4,900 square foot branch on.

Read more:

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LINK’s Whitaker Honored



The Golden Triangle LINK’s superstar VP, Macaulay Whitaker, was given an outstanding honor this week by the Mississippi Economic Development Council (Macaulay is constant force for good and an all-out advocate for local and regional business development. We are so lucky to have her- CK)

Please see the following article for more information, courtesy of WCBI:

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Starkville Mayor, Aldermen Vote Against Sonic’s Request

SoniccolorAs with many requested improvements, it often comes down to residents vs businesses. In this situation, the growing Hwy 12 corridor seems to be getting too close for comfort for some homeowners (It’s worth noting that the Zoning Commission had approved the variance-CK)

Issues like this will continue to come up as both Starkville and Mississippi State continue to grow. The question will be asked, “Will the BOA continue to favor protecting residential space at the risk of feeding the notion that Starkville is not pro-business?

The Starkville Daily News has more…

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Catfish Alley Magazine Anniversary Party Tonight !


Columbus' Own Mother Goose graces the cover of Catfish Alley Magazine

Columbus’ Own Mother Goose graces the cover of Catfish Alley Magazine

  Catfish Alley Magazine, the award-winning regional publication based in Columbus, will be honoring their 5th anniversary with a gallery showing of  notable photographs tonight at the Columbus Arts Council. The magazine burst on to the scene five short years ago with compelling feature pieces and photography of life in the deep south. Many of the photographers are expected to be in attendance to be honored and discuss their works. Published by The Commercial Dispatch in Columbus, the magazine has become the standard for social publications in the Southeast, earning numerous awards in recent years. 


The magazine is another product of the Imes family of Columbus, who at one time owned media outlets, including newspapers and television stations from New York to Mississippi. The father and son team of Birney and Peter Imes now run the paper and magazine. Among their other significant efforts are the rehabilitation of properties, support of the arts, and other major philanthropic endeavors. Birney is an accomplished artist in his own right, having received nationwide acclaim for his three published collections, as well as having his works on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, La Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and The Art Institute of Chicago.

The family is a major contributor to the local business climate, and to the vibrant downtown area of Columbus. I consider them to be eternally good for business throughout the entire Golden Triangle

I encourage anyone with a love of Mississippi culture to swing by the CAC tonight (Feb. 4th) from 5:30 – 7:00pm for the shindig. If you can’t make it tonight, the exhibit will continue through the end of February.



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President Jim Borsig of The W Speaks About His Plans For The Future

Jim Borsig, President of the W

Jim Borsig, President of the W

President Jim Borsig provides an update on university plans in his spring letter to The W community. ‪#‎TheW‬

He first spoke to the history of the W, and recent strides forward:

In 1966 The W was desegregated and the first steps taken by a handful of courageous students to open our doors of opportunity to all Mississippians. The university’s official observance begins this year at Homecoming, as the first event organized to celebrate The W’s African-American graduates will take place. The Black Alumni Reunion Gala is open to all attending Homecoming, and I hope you will join us for this fun event.

He also spoke of the need for all of us to step forth into the future as one united people:

It is a mistake to dwell on division when so much unites us. As Mississippians we know our state’s challenges and opportunities, and we know we cannot afford to deliberately impair our future by marginalizing any among us.

As a public university The W is responsible for educating all Mississippians, and to be successful in our mission we must be welcoming to all, while at the same time respectful of diversity of opinion. I encourage each of you to carefully consider this issue and to exercise civic engagement as our state leaders also consider these issues.

Please click here for more!

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2015 Crystal Pineapple Tourism Awarded to The Mill at MSU

Mark Castleberry got some well-deserved praise last week when the Starkville Development Partnership honored Castle Properties for the completion on the Mill Project. It was a Herculean effort by Castleberry and his team, as the concept of a reclamation project for the Mill had been tossed around for nearly 20 years. Castle Properties has been at the forefront of commercial development in Columbus and Starkville for the last 10 years, and their team is definitely good for business!

(via the Starkville Development Partnership)
“The Partnership was proud to present the 2015 Crystal Pineapple Tourism Award to The Mill at MSU! This stunning historic preservation project has recreated the Russell Street corridor and serves as a wonderful example of “partnership” between MSU and the community of Starkville. Congratulations, Castle Properties!”

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Good News is Good For Business

As I finally fell asleep after a long night of huddling with my family in case the big storm did hit, I went to bed grateful for the abundance of media coverage available in the Golden Trianlge that kept me in the loop.
Columbus and Starkville were on high alert all day yesterday, as thunderstorms and tornadoes ripped through our state. Most areas in Mississippi were spared any major damage or injury- the situation could have been much worse.

WCBI's Jpey Barnes

WCBI’s Joey Barnes

Throughout the day, local news outlets in print, television and social media prepared us for the worst. WCBI and WTVA interrupted local broadcasts when the storm got close, and supplemented their coverage on both social media and websites (WCBI, in particular, dominated coverage on Twitter. Kudos to Robby Donoho and Joey Barnes for giving up-to-the-second updates when the broadcast was going in and out-CK.)
For an area as relatively small and rural as we may seem, we are blessed to have so much media available. WCBI-TV is based in Columbus, and WTVA-TV has a full time crew for the GTR as well. We also have an abundance of print coverage, with The Commercial Dispatch, Starkville Daily News, Daily Times-Leader for daily and semi-daily papers and the both the Columbus Packet and Macon Beacon, both known state-wide for their presence in the weekly segment.

WCBI's Robby Donoho

WCBI’s Robby Donoho

I doubt there is any area with a population our size in the Deep South that is served so thoroughly. This kind of coverage – regardless of anyone’s interpretation of political leanings or quality – helps contribute to a better business climate. Those who want to be in the know, who want to be informed, can get information.
I encourage you all to do what you can to pay attention to the local news, to digest it, and to maybe reach out and participate in it. As a former newsman, I can tell you that the main reason events, good deeds, or nefarious activities go unnoticed in the news is because nobody reached out to the media. The more good news that is out there, the better it is for business.
If you see something- say something… good, bad, or otherwise. We’ve got enough news to go around, take advantage of it…or it could go away.

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Our team for economic development

Our team for economic development

The GTR LINK has brought over 5000 jobs and nearly 5 BILLION DOLLARS in economic development to the Golden Triangle area (Starkville, Columbus, West Point) in the last 12 years.
This powerhouse continues to push for our community, recently announcing the $100,000,00 expansion at Steel Dynamics. The LINK is always good for business.
Link director Joe Max Higgins often says, “Retail development is a byproduct of Industrial development.”

This quote rings true, especially in Starkville and Columbus, where we have seen millions in new retail development in recent years, including the openings of Chik-Fil-A, Buffalo Wild Wings, Lost Pizza, The Mill conference center, Hobby Lobby, Dick’s sports, Cracker Barrel, Michael’s, Ulta Beauty, Longhorn Steakhouse, as well as 7 major hotels just in the last 5 years.
National businesses are flocking to the GTR because of the hard work of the LINK, and local small business owners are the foundation the LINK was built on.

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