GSDP reveals branding change, presents awards at banquet

The Greater Starkville Development Partnership office on Main Street (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)
Staff Writer

The Greater Starkville Development Partnership held its 2018 Annual Banquet Tuesday night at The Mill and saw awards given and new changes announced.

During the banquet, the Partnership unveiled its new branding effort, “Cultivating Community,” which is dedicated to cultivating strategic relationships that foster education, entrepreneurship, diversity and experiences specific to Starkville.

"The logic is to help us embrace the name 'The Partnership,'" CEO Scott Maynard said. "We want to be seen in the community as a liaison between groups to facilitate action and make Starkville a better place to live."

Along with unveiling the new branding, the 2017 award winners were announced. Each is awarded based on nomination and a selection process by Partnership boards and partner organizations. The awards recognize excellence in several areas related to growth and progress in Starkville and the Partnership's core strategies, including economic impact, downtown revitalization, community service, business growth and education.

Kathy Dawkins, Tassie Rosamond, Tate Fischer and Regina Weeks were the recipients of the Teachers of Distinction award. The awards are selected and presented by Starkville-Oktibbeha Achieving Results, an affiliate of the CREATE Foundation. The award recognizes and rewards educators of distinction who are making a difference with K-12 students in the Starkville-Oktibbeha County area, and the recipients received $1,000.

Peggy Mullins Buckley was the recipient of the Steve Langston Downtown Revitalization Award, which is given annually to an individual that represents the spirit and commitment to downtown Starkville that has led to revitalization of the area.

Mullins is the owner of Mullins Department store, which originally opened in 1955. She serves as was one of the key founders of the Starkville Downtown Business Association, which later became an accredited Mississippi Main Street Association, and she worked with fellow business owners to shepherd legislation to create a special taxing district to foster continued sustainability of the downtown district which still exists today. The legislation continues to provide funding which contributes to the present day vitality of downtown Starkville.

The Ambassador of the Year award was presented to Anna-Marie Foster Nickels, who serves as Vice-President of the Partnership Ambassadors. The Partner Ambassadors programs is a volunteer group that offers logistical support for activities, serve as a welcoming body for special functions, attend ribbon cuttings, recruit and retain Partnership members, attend months meetings and promote a strong business community.

The Starkville Police Department was awarded the Crystal Pineapple Award for Tourism, which recognizes a group or individual who has significantly contributed to the success of tourism in Starkville. SPD logged nearly 2,500 hours of special event coordination within the last year.

The T. E. Veitch Community Service Award recognizes members of the community who have performed outstanding community service and civic contributions, and it is one of the most prestigious offered by the Partnership. The 2017 award was presented to Eileen Carr-Tabb, who has been involved with over 30 area community service organizations including the MSU Alumni Association and Habitat for Humanity, and also serves as an Oktibbeha County Chapter of American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Leader, and on the Partnership’s Minority Task Force.

The final award presented at the banquet was the R. Clay Simmons Exemplary Enterprise Award, which was given to Renasant Bank for their strong civic presence and sponsorship of programs and charitable organizations that make many community events possible. The award is given to a business that makes outstanding contributions to the community through civic involvement, educational advancement and economic development each year, and who has demonstrated superior business practices.

Special events and projects coordinator Paige Watson said the 2018 Annual Banquet had a good turn out, and allowed for Partnership members to interact and network with each other.

"The banquet kicks off the year, and it gets everyone excited to work together and start on new projects and activities in 2018," Watson said.