By PAUL SIMS
A key figure in Mississippi’s economic development efforts will be the featured speaker at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership’s annual banquet next week.
Gray Swoope is the executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, the state’s lead agency in the field.
Swoope is a Clay County native who holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in business administration from Mississippi State University, according to his biography on the MDA website.
He once worked in Starkville in the early part of his career.
“He’s a good choice to speak. He knows the Golden Triangle, specifically Starkville,” said Jon Maynard, GSDP president and CEO. “Gray has a strong team approach to economic development for the state of Mississippi.”
Maynard says Swoope will focus his comments on the idea of “coopertition,” a message which “rings well with the Partnership’s team approach to community development.”
Swoope leads close to 300 employees in his role at the MDA.
The banquet, which will take place in the Foster Ballroom at Colvard Student Union on the MSU campus at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20, will mark the GDSP’s 10th anniversary.
The event’s theme is “10 years as a T.E.A.M.,” with the acronym standing for “Together Everyone Achieves More.”
The GSDP is made up of the Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Starkville Chamber of Commerce and the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority.
The following awards will be presented at the banquet: R. Clay Simmons Exemplary Enterprise, T.E. Veitch Community Service, Service to the Military, the Crystal Pineapple Tourism and Ambassador of the Year.
There will also be three inductees into the Starkville Area Education Hall of Fame, said Allison Matthews, the GSDP’s vice president of membership and community development.
Tickets are $35 per person or $350 per table of 10.
GSDP staff members urge people to RSVP for the banquet by Friday.
To RSVP, call Allison Matthews at 323-3322 or send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .