It’s hard not to get excited about the economic and community development potential in Starkville these days.
Last week, the Golden Triangle Development LINK and Greater Starkville Development Partnership announced two moves which should pave the way for greater overall success in the county.
First, LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins announced Joey Deason, a former Mississippi Development Authority executive, will represent Oktibbeha County in tri-county economic development initiatives. Then, the GSDP Board of Trustees moved Jennifer Gregory, the group’s chief operating officer and tourism guru, to the helm of its organization.
Deason, a Mississippi State University graduate, helped entice major industries — Toyota, General Electric, PACCAR and Severstal — to the state while he worked at MDA. Those ventures led to almost $2.5 billion in investments and 3,500 new jobs.
Combined with Higgins’ proven track record in Lowndes County, it’s hard not to get excited at the prospect of Deason working on our side.
While LINK executives attempt to attract business and industry, Gregory’s tenure at the GSDP should find continued tourism success by promoting Starkville as “Mississippi’s College Town.”
While Gregory, also a MSU grad, served as de facto GSDP leader, Starkville became a viable tourist destination once again. Not only are visitors coming to the area for MSU athletic events, but they are also staying in our hotels, shopping in our stores and adding to our tax collections on non-game weekends.
Downtown revitalization is an example of this success. Businesses that usually kept their doors closed on weekends — especially during away games — are now open through Sunday.
Both personnel moves are critical to future economic development. Without community development initiatives, the county will come up short on job attraction, and vice versa.
Deason and Gregory are both as hard working as they are energetic about bettering our community. We wish them luck in their new roles. Their success will be our success.