By STEVEN NALLEY
Two manufacturers supporting the automotive industry have expressed interest in entering the Starkville area, Greater Starkville Development Partnership President Jon Maynard reported at the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority’s meeting Monday.
“They’re looking at this area because it is a nexus between the Tupelo (Toyota) plant, the Nissan plant (in Canton), and the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa,” Maynard said.
To maintain confidentiality, Maynard did not identify the manufacturers, but he said their interest is a new development. Maynard said he also expects new developments soon from the Cotton Mills project.
“The words I keep hearing (are), ‘We’re looking at a possible closing from the middle of March to the middle of April,’” Maynard said.
At past OCEDA, GSDP and the Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau meetings, Maynard has previously reported a business whose name he has not released is interested in expanding its existing Starkville branch. At Monday’s meeting, Maynard said this expansion took an “interesting turn” earlier in the day.
“They’ve hired a headhunter to hire people (to work in the Starkville) area,” Maynard said. “(The representative said) he is having a difficult time overcoming ... preconceived notions about coming to Mississippi. It’s opening our eyes. We’re very good at marketing to ourselves, and we’re now working to overcome some of the preconceived notions and stereotypes.”
Finally, Maynard said he and Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman met with Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum about a senior community near campus, and Keenum’s response was positive.
“I think the next step in the foreground is we’re going to get a group of seniors to visit the capstone retirement community at the University of Alabama,” Maynard said. “That seems to be a good model for us.”
Both Wiseman and Maynard also discussed a meeting on regional governance leaders across the Golden Triangle attended Jan. 19. Wiseman said both Starkville and Columbus are taking steps to act on MSU Purchasing Manager Taylor Adams’ idea for a regional purchasing and procurement co-op.
“Columbus actually passed a contract with Mr. Adams at its meeting last Tuesday,” Wiseman said. “I’m hoping to have a contract to enter into the board as early as next Tuesday.”
In his own report, Wiseman said the Starkville Board of Aldermen approved a steering committee for its planned redevelopment authority at its meeting Feb. 7. He said the city’s consultant believes the steering committee can develop an actionable plan in three months.
“I think he set a pretty ambitious goal,” Wiseman said, “but he’s done this before.”
Also on Feb. 7, the board of aldermen approved MSU Parking Services’ plan to submit a grant proposal to the Mississippi Department of Transportation to partially fund three shuttle routes throughout Starkville.
“I think there’s reason to think we have a fair chance of being successful with this grant,” Wiseman said. “If this grant does materialize, that will result in there being three mass transit routes in the city of Starkville. It’s something that could change the way transportation is done in Starkville.”