By CARL SMITH
Oktibbeha County Economic Development Agency and Greater Starkville Development Partnership trustees both unanimously approved a revised interim agreement for regional economic development Monday.
The agreement places control of county economic development in the hands of the Golden Triangle LINK, the rebranded name for a consortium between Lowndes, Clay and Oktibbeha counties, for three years while the group works to establish a permanent tri-county economic development agency in 2014.
Although the two boards unanimously OK’d the contract, the Starkville Board of Aldermen and Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors must approve funding for the consortium before the deal is enacted. A special-call meeting between the two governing boards is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday at the county courthouse.
As approved, the revised contract changes the interim agreement from two to three years and also adds a provision that voids the agreement if legislation is drafted to establish the Golden Triangle Regional Development Authority before the contract expires.
For development services, the city of Starkville, county government, GSDP and OCEDA will pay the LINK a combined $350,000 per year. OCEDA and the GSDP are on the hook for $200,000 per year, while county government will pay $100,000 per year and the city is expected to contribute $50,000 per year. Under the new timetable, 12 $87,500 payments are staggered over the three years, from Nov. 1 to August 2015.
Both GSDP Board Chairman Steve Langston and OCEDA President Jack Wallace gave shining reviews of the agreement and the drive for regional cooperation.
“(OCEDA’s) leadership in bringing this together for the future is perhaps one of the best things that’s probably happened in the county since the formation of (the GSDP),” Langston said. “I don’t think any of us can fathom … (how) working as a team in the region instead of competing will help all three counties.”
“We are all about doing what we think is best in Oktibbeha County; we all have the same agenda,” Wallace added. “I’m proud of us entering into this new situation of economic development. It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen (in terms of development), and I’m about the oldest person in the room.”