By PAUL SIMS
A wide variety of learning opportunities await those who attend a series of events scheduled through the Greater Starkville Development Partnership over most of the next year.
Eleven sessions within the Blue Ribbon Business Resources Series are scheduled between now and September, according to a list of activities provided by Allison Matthews, the GSDP’s vice president of membership and community development.
By releasing this whole series of events now, people can mark their calendars and make early plans to attend, she said.
The series sponsor is the Technology Resource Institute at Mississippi State University, funded through the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
In chronological order, this year’s sessions in the series include:
• Lunch and Learn Thursday on ChamberPlus. Lunch – hosted at The Veranda – will start at 11:30 a.m.
The program will begin at noon. The session will include discussion on the current health care legislation and how it affects small business. Business owners and managers will learn how to have healthy employees and save costs on health insurance.
Lindsay Buford of ChamberPlus Inc. and Doug Henley with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi will be the speakers. Lunch will be compliments of ChamberPlus – however, space is limited.
Those interested in Thursday’s session should RSVP with Matthews by calling 323-3322 or sending an e-mail to email@example.com  by 5 p.m. today.
• Lunch and Learn Dec. 9 at Hilton Garden Inn on “Your IRS Information Resource.”
Lunch will start at 11:30 a.m. and the program will begin at noon. This event will feature Mark Craven, an Internal Revenue Service small business and stakeholder liaison. Participants who attend this event will leave with a large packet of resources and information, Matthews said.
RSVPs are needed for this event. The cost is $20 for general admission and $10 for GSDP members. A sponsorship opportunity is available for this event.
• A special seminar day featuring Patrick H. McGaughey, billed as “America’s Favorite Enter-Trainer.” This will be a highlight of the year, Matthews said. “I really do feel like we are bringing the best possible business program” with having McGaughey come to the area, she said.
His visit is something “we’re working on regionally. ... We all thought enough of him to pool our resources so we would be able to bring him to the Golden Triangle,” Matthews said, adding that McGaughey will spend one day each in Columbus, West Point and Starkville.
The events within the seminar day Feb. 10 break down as follows:
• The “Best Boards in America Breakfast” at Hilton Garden Inn, a session for Boards of Directors of non-profit organizations, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for GSDP members.
• From 10 a.m. to noon, “High Performance in Today’s Economy,” a session for business leaders.
This is designed to help businesses work to overcome the negative pressures of economic news and perform at high levels, according to promotional material. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $20 for GSDP members.
• From 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. will be the “National Customer Sales and Service Institute.” It’s a session designed for employees but Matthews encourages leaders and managers attend the seminar.
The workshop provides information on the importance of both skill sets, according to the promotional material. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $20 for GSDP members.
Both the 10 a.m. and 1:30 sessions will take place at the Sportsplex. Sponsorship opportunities are available for all three of McGaughey’s sessions. For information on McGaughey, visit http://www.activatingpeople.com/ .
The remainder of the currently-scheduled Blue Ribbon sessions are:
• Power Breakfast at TVA March 10. The topic will be “Ergonomics of the Workplace.”
The speakers will be two MSU professors – Dr. Lesley Strawderman, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering and Dr. Kari Babski-Reeves, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering.
Breakfast starts at 7:30 a.m. The program begins at 8 a.m. “They deal in whole design for not only comfort but also productivity,” Matthews said.
The event will be sponsored by the MSU Student Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and Sullivan’s Office Supply. The cost will be $10 for general admission and $5 for GSDP members.
• On April 7, a Lunch and Learn at the Mississippi Horse Park. Marshall Ramsey, a syndicated cartoonist for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, will show some of his favorite editorial cartoons and recount the stories behind them, promotional material on the event shows. Lunch will begin at 11:30 a.m.
The program – sponsored by the Horse Park – will start at noon. The cost will be $20 for general admission and $10 for GSDP members.
• A Power Breakfast at TVA on May 12. This session will focus on an update on the Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi, looking at what the issues and implications are, Matthews said. The speaker will be Alison Buehler. The cost will be $10 for general admission and $5 for GSDP members. A sponsorship opportunity is available for this session.
• A June 9 Lunch and Learn at the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems.
The session will feature MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman, District 3 Supervisor and Board of Supervisor president Marvell Howard and GSDP President and CEO Jon Maynard.
They will give a presentation on the status of the master plans at the local and university levels and let the public hear straight from the leaders what their takes are on the issues impacting the community, the community’s direction and about how they are communicating and working together, Matthews said.
The session will be sponsored by ERA Town and Campus Realty. The cost is $20 general admission and $10 for GSDP members. Lunch will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the session will start at noon.
• A Lunch and Learn session in August at Hilton Garden Inn. This session will provide those who attend the opportunity to hear from Judy Couey and James Covington, the superintendents of the community’s public schools, about their expectations for the school year as well as various school-related issues.
Lunch will take place at 11:30 a.m. The session begins at noon. A sponsorship opportunity is available for this program. The cost will be $20 for general admission and $10 for GSDP members. The date for this session has not yet been set.
• A Power Breakfast session at TVA. The breakfast starts at 7:30 a.m. The program begins at 8 a.m. The speaker will be Dr. Lynne Richardson, dean of MSU’s College of Business. The session she will conduct will be a back-to-basics presentation on marketing, Matthews said. A sponsorship opportunity is available. This will conclude the sessions for the 2010-2011 series.
Matthews says she believes the series will be ongoing so officials will announce future events.
For information or to RSVP, contact Allison Matthews calling 323-3322 or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .