Category Archives: MSU

One Door Closes, but Many More Open – For Business!

GOLDEN TRIANGLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch


Former employees Debbie Putt and Janis Kertsetter are now the new owners of The Purple Elephant on Wilkins Wise Road in Columbus. The shop had been closed briefly after the prior owner, Marca Glenn, retired.

“We hated to see another store close in Columbus,” Putt said. “We just felt like jumping in and doing it. Everything comes full circle.”

Putt went on to say that the shop will be the same as always, though they are open to carrying new and interesting items for their clientele to buy; also, they have retained the crew that worked under Ms. Glenn. The gift shop is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, next to CJ’s in Columbus, has announced that they are closing their doors after being in business for six years.


Construction work has officially begun at Grand Junction condos, 509 University Drive. They are hoping to open Phase I for new homeowners in late August of this year. Tabor Development’s VP of development, Kay Regimbal, says that about one third of the condos have already been purchased.

The units vary in size from 1~3 bedrooms & 750~1,500 square feet, and in price from about $200,000 to $445,000.

MSU’s Colvard Student Union had a couple of changes quite recently:

State Fountain Bakery, which is now across the union, has penlty of goodies on offer just in time for Valentine’s Day. Mediterranean restaurant Olilo is now open in the student union.

Popular downtown yoga studio Firefly on S Lafayette St has shut its doors, and appears to be on the market.

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GTR Coding Academy in Columbus Producing New Programmers

Columbus, MS — Courtesy of the Dispatch

“I never would have imagined I would end up here,” said Kingdom McGee, a graduate of the Columbus school’s first-ever graduate class. “It’s sort of surreal going from things looking pretty bleak and ending up with a job that’s really a start to my career.” He went from being stuck at home with devastating health issues to a job with the Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, and all at a tuition-free vocational school.

Golden Triangle Coding Academy coders Broderick Cattladge, Kayla Woodard, Leigh Jones, Angela Pugh and Kingdom McGee celebrate graduating on Saturday at the Waverly Country Club
Courtesy photo by Chauncey Magnum

The GTR Coding Academy in Columbus, an affiliate of MSU, is one of two in Mississippi (the other is in Jackson). The schools’ aim is to provide training and coding instruction for serious students and also to help them find jobs in the industry. Director Sarah Lee, MSU engineering professor, stated that their ultimate desire to expand students’ opportunity for success in technical fields.

“It’s to create more computing pathways for people in Mississippi,” Lee said. “Not everyone is the same so not everyone is on a pathway to college. We don’t all fit into the same mold. In order to increase the pool of technical talent in the state, we have to think outside the box.”

“They said, ‘we like what we see,'” McGee went on to say. “I was floored. Before, I thought that my opportunity was gone. That moment was life changing for me.” McGee said that wouldn’t have happened had it not been for his education at the coding academy, which taught him to never stop learning and to grow with technology as it progresses.

“There’s no telling where my job might lead me,” McGee said. “I’m pretty easy-going and I’m eager to see what else is out there for me. My past two years have been truly blessed. You can’t write or make this stuff up. I have a creative background and coding is another one of those outlets for me and people want to pay me to do this.”

“It’s life changing for those students who complete the program and are able to go into employment,” Lee said. “It’s also a positive thing for the state in that we are increasing the tax base and increasing the pool for qualified persons for technical jobs, which hopefully will result in more companies coming to Mississippi and providing those jobs.”

Lee said that the academy will be accepting applications for the next class which will start in July. Each applicant undergoes an interview & board review process. Those interested can apply online at

“When you’re working in a technical field, you have to be a lifelong learner because the technology is changing so rapidly,” Lee said. “The learning doesn’t stop after you graduate. It’s taken them from either unemployment or hourly wage employment to professional positions and working in a professional environment with a competitive salary in the state.”

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MSU Earns State and National Accolades

STARKVILLE — Courtesy of News Mississippi

The recent NSF Higher Education Research and Development Survey for Fiscal Year 2017 has awarded MSU 94th place overall nationwide among both private and public institutions. The schools also ranked highly among non-medical school institutions (58th), and among public institutions (64th).

The survey ranks school primarily based on their research efforts, personnel, and funding; MSU ranked first in terms of research personnel nationwide. It also drew top marks in the fields of computer science, agricultural science, life science, mathematical sciences, psychology, social science, and education for the state.

“We are very pleased to see our research portfolio growing and diversifying. It’s a true testament to the extraordinary people—the faculty, staff, and students—we have here at MSU,” said David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development. “Research is also a very significant economic development success story for our entire state with Mississippi Research Consortium institutions seeing more than $475 million in R&D expenditures,” He went on to say.

Moreover, MSU is the only Mississippi university to have earned the Innovation and Economic Prosperity University distinction from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and its Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity. The designation recognizes Mississippi State for working to advance engagement and economic well-being in the state, region, and nation.

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Local Businesses Stand Out During Holiday Season

The Purple Elephant employees Dixie Belue and Sherri Dyer decorate a Christmas tree with handmade ornaments Monday afternoon- Photo by Mary Politz, Dispatch Staff

COLUMBUS & STARKVILLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Many local stores have been doing gangbusters as the holiday season roars into full swing, thanks to the special services they provide and the superior customer service they offer – And THAT’S Good for Business!

Sarah Barefield, manager at The Purple Elephant on Wilkins Wise Road in COlumbus, reports that their customers come for the great pottery items from Mississippi crafters, and leave delighted by the staff’s impressive skill at gift-wrapping.

“We do a great job gift wrapping,” Barefield said. “A lot of people come and shop just for our gift-wrapping. We also just try to be as nice as possible. . .  It was just better this year. We were very happy with the customers that came in, and if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.” 

Gloria Herriott, owner of Hollyhocks in Downtown Columbus, credits the strong economy:  “Small businesses know when it’s real. We’re off to a really good Christmas season. People have more money to spend and they feel comfortable spending it.” 

Main Street Director Barbara Bigelow  had this to say: “I’ve had great responses from our merchants from both days — Black Friday and Shop Small Saturday . . . We certainly appreciate people supporting them. It’s so good for our economy. Everything we spend with our local merchants, of course, stays in our community and it feeds our economy. That’s always good for the community. It’s just important to keep your money local.”  

In Starkville, George Sherman’s clothing store on Russell Street did well, despite the Egg Bowl being in Oxford this year. His Black Friday sales were such a success that he will be extending them through the end of the month of Novermber.

“We specialize in service. We really talk to our customers and find out what their needs are and meet those needs,” Sherman said. “We were pleasantly surprised. . . Shop local, because those dollars turn back to the community.”

The Lodge, an apparel store, fell a bit short of expectations, but they still did quite well for themselves. Owner John Hendricks said, “You just can’t beat that football traffic.” he went on to say that customers still poured in to purchase Egg Bowl victory t-shirts and cowbells for the holiday season.  

“We’re very excited about the holiday season,” Hendricks said. “We always hope (people) shop locally because it affects local people.”

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Starkville Habitat for Humanity and MSU Collaborate on Tenth Maroon Edition Home

Starkville Habitat for Humanity and MSU Collaborate on Tenth Maroon Edition Home

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Courtesy of MSU

Habitat for Humanity groundbreaking in Starkville (photo courtesy of MSU)

Mississippi State University and Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity recently broke ground on their tenth Maroon Edition home. The project, which has been going on for about a decade, provides homes to Habitat-eligible families in the area who need the help, with emphasis on those who are students and/or otherwise associated with MSU. Construction on the home will take place this Fall, with the help of Habitat and MSU volunteers.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum Habitat for Humanity with a $5,000 check from the university during the event. “I’ve now been a part of 10 homes and it’s something that I’m very proud of,” Keenum said. “We’re about helping other people. A lot of the people working to build this home will be employees, retirees, and more importantly, students of Mississippi State. What better experience for students to share than to help someone have a new home?”

All in all, the Starkville Area HfH has now built, or otherwise supplied, over sixty homes to local families in need. Students are encouraged to volunteer to help out on these projects; roughly 3,600 volunteers have become involved and generously donated their time, effort, and expertise over the years.

“When you look at the Habitat website, it says that we solidify and build strong communities,” said Charles Ware, Starkville Area HfH president. “What it doesn’t say is that it’s a game-changer for the new homeowner.”

The new homeowner, Lou-Quan “Quan” Lucious, pitched in to help build a new home for a friend of hers last year: “I learned a lot working on [the] house,” Lucious said. “It showed me that I have to work hard for something I really want. I had to put work into it to get this. I had to put my mind to it.”

“Habitat, for me, is about creating homes and creating spaces where families can live and grow and learn and love each other,” said MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt. “We are delighted at Mississippi State to be able to send students here to help create hope.”

More information about the program, for both potential homeowners and for volunteers, can be found in the full article here.

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MSU Breaks Ground on College View Project

MSU Breaks Ground on College View Project

Starkville – Courtesy of The Dispatch

From left, Vice President of Real Estate Development at EdR Mark Grambergs, EdR President Tom Trubiana, Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill, EdR CEO Randy Churchey, Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Mississippi State Institutions of Higher Learning board member Walter Starr and Executive Vice President and COO of EdR Chris Richards break ground on the new student housing site, College View, Monday. The housing complex and day care is expected to open in the summer of 2019. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

Work has officially begun at Mississippi State University for a mixed-space residential project that will be the first of its kind in the state. The university held a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday for the College View project, which is to be located at the location of the old Aiken Village apartments before they were torn down.

MSU President Mark Keenum said College View will have 656 beds, 46,000 square feet for retail and a new 7,000 square-foot day care center; if all goes according to plan, it will be complete by summer of next year.  He stated that the facility will provide much-needed housing for Seniors, as well as a convenient retail space: “This project is a bridge, a connector if you will, from the city onto our campus,” Keenum said. “It’s going to benefit this university, no doubt, but it’s definitely going to benefit Starkville. I always say what’s good for Mississippi State is good for the city, and what’s good for the city is good for Mississippi State.”

EdR CEO Randy Churchey said during Monday’s ceremony that he’s excited for the project, and that future planned expansions should bring the total  total housing capacity to around 1,800 beds: “I can really see this area being the area where alumni come back on game days, (or) come for graduations, and really be a gathering spot for alumni and students and faculty for all those special occasions that happen on college campuses,” Churchey said. “Other institutions are looking at this endeavor with, I hope, envy and jealousy. And they’re probably going to try to copy it one day,” he said. “But you guys were the first to get this accomplished, and we’re going to uphold our end of the bargain and get this building built. It’s going to be fantastic for the students, alumni, the city and the university.”


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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.

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MSU, Partnership to Help Oktibbeha Students Get a Taste of Running Businesses

MSU, Partnership to Help Oktibbeha Students Get a Taste of Running Businesses


Oktibbeha County – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The Partnership, in conjunction with the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach are working together to give local middle- and high-school students a taste of what it’s like to start a business. With help from International Paper, they will be hosting an Oktibbeha County Innovation Challenge for the students. An interest meeting for the challenge is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Glo office at 419 E. Lampkin St.

Partnership CEO Scott Maynard said that the challenge is open to all Oktibbeha MS/HS students: “The program is designed to really introduce students to entrepreneurship and business,” he said. “The goal is the students, individually or in teams, will come up with a project that they would like to see brought to market. Then they would participate in some training and seminars to show them how to develop a business plan. . .They will develop either a real prototype or a mocked-up prototype, and they will present in a shark tank environment to a group of people to sell their idea or their product.”

MSU College of Business Director of Outreach Jeffrey Rupp – Courtesy Photo

A $500 prize is at stake for the winners, along with scholarships for an entrepreneurship summer camp at MSU.

MSU College of Business Director of Outreach Jeffrey Rupp said, “Part of the mission of a land grant university like Mississippi State is to reach out and leverage our resources to boost communities. . . We are fortunate to have a fantastic relationship with the schools and the Partnership in Starkville.” If the first challenge bears fruit, he said, it may be replicated in other cities in the Golden Triangle.

Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Superintendent Eddie Peasant expressed his own excitement: “It is important for our students to experience real-world learning,” he said. “The Innovation Challenge combined project-based learning, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity with the resources of the E-Center at MSU for a unique hands-on opportunity for our students. It also provides a unique opportunity to work with (The Partnership) to develop future business leaders for our community.”


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MSU Obtains $7 Million Grant for Roadway Improvements

MSU Obtains $7 Million Grant for Roadway Improvements

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Starkville Daily News

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi,recentlyannounced a $7 million federal transportation grant for Mississippi State University. The grant is intended to pay for development of a roughly two-mile multimodal corridor on Hightower Road, a portion of which is to be named “Bulldog Way.” The corridor will connect Blackjack Road to East Lee Boulevard.

“Mississippi State proposed this multimodal project to help alleviate gridlock and improve safety for students, faculty, visitors, and Starkville residents,” Cochran said.  “I’m pleased that the Department of Transportation will invest in this project, which will improve the overall quality of life for the Starkville and Oktibbeha County community.”

MSU spokesman Sid Salter stated that “[Recent] growth has put a tremendous strain on the existing transportation infra­structure, both on campus and in the community . . .The Hightower Road Corridor Project in concert with other planned improvements seeks to alleviate this potential transportation ‘gridlock’ by providing a needed north/south multimodal corridor on the eastern border of the campus to connect Blackjack Road with the northern portion of campus.”

Congress annually appropriates funding for these TIGER grants, which are awarded on a competitive and matching fund basis, and are directed toward projects that are expected to have a significant economic impact.  Since 2009, Mississippi has received nearly $100 million in TIGER funds.

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MSU Will Soon Break Ground on New Student Housing Complex

MSU Will Soon Break Ground on New Student Housing Complex


MSU proposed College View Residential area. Photo courtesy of MSU

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning approved an joint agreement between MSU and collegiate housing specialists Memphis Education Realty Trust (EdR). They recently completed a feasibility study, and with that in hand, soaughtand obtained approval for development of a $67-million, 34-acre mixed-use university village. The location of the College View complex will be where the old Aiken Village apartments used to be, on the NW edge of campus. Groundbreaking may happen as soon as this Spring; if so, Phase I (residential housing for college seniors) should be complete by Fall of next year.

“I appreciate the support of the Board of Trustees as we have worked steadily over the past three years to bring this first-of-its kind project to a Mississippi university campus,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “We believe that our partnership with EdR will help us meet the needs of our students and their families, and College View will also become a destination for members of the community, alumni and other visitors to Starkville and Mississippi State,” he went on to say.

For details about EdR, please visit the company’s Web site at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

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