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BREAKING: Officials set to explore tri-county economic development agency

July 13, 2012

Golden Triangle officials took the first step toward a regional economic development agency Friday when they announced the formation of an exploratory committee on the matter.

The committee, formed by economic development representatives of Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties, will submit a partnership proposal by Sept. 14, a release issued by Columbus-Lowndes Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins’ office stated.

In April, the West Point-Clay County Community Growth Alliance and the LINK signed a three-year affiliation agreement which kept the Growth Alliance as West Point’s and Clay County’s chamber of commerce, while placing all economic development responsibility with Higgins’ LINK. During the agreement’s formal signing session in April, Higgins said the deal had been in the works since October 2011.

“The Golden Triangle has long been recognized for its advanced economic development in north Mississippi. The three communities have partnered on various development opportunities that have been mutually beneficial to all parties for decades,” the release states.

Members of the steering committee include Robbie Robinson, a retired Clay County chancery clerk and board member for the LINK and WPCCCGA, and Jackie Edwards, Growth Alliance co-chair (Clay County); attorney Gordon Flowers and Jim McAlexander, LINK Board president (Lowndes County); and Marvell Howard, Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors president, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman and Oktibbeha County Economic Development Agency President Jack Wallace (Oktibbeha County).

The committee will be charged with exploring formation, purpose governance, administration, funding, duties and implementation.

“In the past nine years, we’ve worked regional projects, always looking to develop our area cooperatively,” McAlexander said in the release. “The partnership being proposed will allow for development efforts to be taken to the next level for the Golden Triangle and shows a committed effort of teamwork between among all three counties.”

“We in West Point recognize that a regional development effort produces positive results for all three counties,” Edwards said in the release. “With our new megasite and abundant infrastructure, West Point has much to contribute to the regional effort. When one county does well, we all achieve success.”

Officials would not comment about how a possible regional economic development agency would be funded.

The Greater Starkville Development Partnership, Starkville’s chief economic development agency, has been without a chief executive officer since Jon Maynard submitted his resignation. The GSDP Board of Trustees met since the resignation to discuss the vacancy, but no formal action has been taken to secure a new leader.

“Each community brings something unique to the partnership,” GSDP Board of Trustees President Steve Langston said in the release. “Starkville being home to Mississippi State University brings an abundance of resources required to compete for the next generation of advanced business opportunities.”

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