By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors discussed plans to celebrate Starkville’s 175th anniversary as part of its summer event promotion campaign at its meeting Wednesday.
While the final report was unavailable, the CVB also discussed some results from its Twitter town hall event Feb. 27. The commission also briefly discussed the need for a capital strategy for the city’s planned redevelopment authority.
Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development Partnership vice president for tourism development, said Three Generations owner Paige Lawes has assembled a steering committee to celebrate the May 11 anniversary of 175 years since the city was chartered.
“Our role is to plan and promote the birthday party, which will be on ... May 11 of this year either in our welcome center downstairs. Ideally, I’d like to have it at the community market location, but I haven’t asked about that yet, so that’s not official,” Gregory said. “One of the community members, Amanda Edwards, is looking (into) a potential proclamation the mayor would issue, proclaiming this full year as the 175th anniversary of Starkville beginning May 11, 2012.”
Gregory said the party would function as a community day with old-fashioned games for children and a birthday cake. The CVB is also planning a parade to coincide with its Downtown Block Party in the fall, which has been moved from Main Street to the corner of Russell Street and Lampkin Street, she said. May 11 is also the day of Mississippi State University’s graduation, and Gregory said holding the parade in September will create an anniversary celebration MSU students at all levels will be able to attend.
“The idea is to have the parade prior to (the Downtown Block Party) and have the reverse route of the Christmas parade, so (it will) start at (First United) Methodist Church and come back in at Russell Street,” Gregory said. “We’ll probably announce all the details of that ... after the Cotton District Arts Festival so people don’t get too confused, so just be looking for that. Paige’s idea is throughout that year people will incorporate the 175th year into any of their existing events.”
Gregory said the CVB is also developing its Dog Days of Summer event promotion campaign, which will include the 175th anniversary birthday party. She said she hopes to release the campaign schedule after Super Bulldog Weekend.
“The whole point is to try to change that perception ‘There’s nothing to do in Starkville in the summer; Starkville’s dead in the summer,’” Gregory said. “It’s really not. There really are a lot of events going on in the summer.”
Gregory said CVB staff are currently going through a transcript of the Twitter town hall more than 300 pages long tweet-by-tweet to determine the main topics. The current plan is to release final reports by next week, she said, giving city officials and others a look at the event one month after the fact. The Twitter town hall on Feb. 27 was an opportunity for citizens, students and others connected to Starkville to give the CVB feedback on Starkville’s economic development.
Finally, CVB Chair Jeremiah Dumas briefed the CVB board about the city’s plans for a redevelopment authority. A steering committee which includes Gregory and other community representatives will name the authority’s members, draw its jurisdiction and create its bylaws.
“It has statutory requirements that will allow it to capitalize itself whether it be with cash or land or other types of things in areas that we see are really (in need of redevelopment),” Dumas said. “(Highway) 182 is a logical one. Russell Street (and) Lampkin Street ... are (other) areas we really want to try to work on.”
Dumas said Tupelo’s Fairpark District is an example of a redevelopment authority at work, and it demonstrates the challenges Starkville will face in developing a capital strategy for a redevelopment authority.
“They’re capitalized with about $22 million in cash,” Dumas said. “What they do is use that directly to incentivize all the growth that’s happening there. We don’t have $22 million in cash. Tupelo has deep, deep pockets. Others have been capitalized significantly with land they use as an incentive to help growth. We don’t have a lot of land, either, but we’re working on that. We’ve hired Tripp (Muldrow of Arnett Muldrow and Associates) to help us with this process.”