By NATHAN GREGORY
Community leaders met Wednesday at OCH Regional Medical Center to discuss the importance of collaboration as a means of improving economic development in Starkville through improving the city’s quality of life.
Featured speakers for the Starkville Summit included Healthy Starkville Chair Chris Gottbrath, Mayor Parker Wiseman, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Executive Director Sheila Grogan, Bonnie Carew and Ron Cossman of Healthy Starkville and Mississippi State Provost Jerry Gilbert.
Led by the Healthy Starkville Committee, the summit emphasized the use of local resources to strengthen the city’s position in four areas: Physical and emotional health, education, safety and economic well-being.
Carew said Healthy Starkville will sponsor two future meetings in which attendees will work together to determine functions that are and are not working in the community to encourage and support well being. The first, a community forum, will have participants prepare wish lists of three items to be pursued that would impact community health. The meeting is scheduled Oct. 18 at OCH.
During the second meeting, entitled “Moving From Talk to Action,” community action groups will be formed to focus on which wish list items can become reality with collaboration. The meeting, also to be held at OCH, is scheduled for Nov. 9.
Cossman identified cooperation between groups as a “resource multiplier,” and said organizations partnering with each other as being a key action in promoting progress.
“That’s ultimately what we all care about is accomplishing what our goals are,” Cossman said. “If you are able to multiply the resources you have available to address the issue, you’re coming out ahead and the … problem you are trying to address is going to get solved.”
He said community needs and funding opportunities are in constant change, and it is necessary to adapt to those changes in order for economic development to be fostered.
“Economic development … speaks to the issue of quality of life because as we improve the quality of life we have in our community, we improve the desirability of this community,” he said. “People want to stay here once they graduate. They want to move here. They hear about us, and the next thing you know you’ve got economic development in their hands.”
Wiseman said physical health is related to so many other factors in a community such as safety, education and the financial well being of citizens.
“So often, you find when someone is struggling with one of those areas in their life they’re struggling with other areas too,” Wiseman said. “This is an opportunity to begin the process of … collaborating both inter-organizationally and across those issues to recognize how we can raise the bar across the board — not only for health and wellness, but for the safety, education and financial well being that often makes for the most well rounded, healthy person in our community.”