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Choctaw, Webster, Montgomery counties plan economic development partnership

October 1st, 2012 No comments

When plans for a regional economic development organization in the Golden Triangle were unveiled last month, there was talk that similar set-ups would start to appear in other parts of Mississippi.

Since Sept. 14, two have been made public. Chickasaw County officials decided in late September that they would pursue a partnership with Pontotoc and Union counties. Monday afternoon, officials from Choctaw, Webster and Montgomery counties announced they were forming a union of their own.

Stone-Adams, a business development and consulting firm in Jackson, will handle economic development for the three counties as they form the partnership.

“This is a very good opportunity for Mississippi to show how collaboration and cooperation can provide a model for sustainable economic development,” Stone-Adams founder Nick Walters said in a press release.

The conglomeration will be called the Regional Economic Partnership of Mississippi when it starts operation, which should be by the end of the year, Walters said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. Walters said the idea arose about six months ago among supervisors from Choctaw and Webster counties as his firm’s professional services contract to handle economic development for Choctaw County was getting close to expiration. Montgomery County entered the discussion shortly thereafter.

Since then, each board of supervisors has voted to officially join the group.

Here’s the Mississippi Business Journal story about the Golden Triangle Regional Development LINK being a possible trendsetter.

Here’s Ross Reily’s column offering an endorsement to the idea of regionalism.

Chickasaw County mulls economic development partnership with Pontotoc, Union counties

September 24th, 2012 No comments

In this week’s Mississippi Business Journal, there’s a story that examines whether the forthcoming economic development conglomeration among the counties in the Golden Triangle could be the start of a trend.

The question might have already been answered, at least somewhat.

Leaders in Chickasaw County are considering joining an existing partnership between Pontotoc and Union counties. Remember, it was the partnership among Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties that developed the Wellspring site that eventually became home to Toyota. The PUL Alliance is considered the gold standard for regionalism in Mississippi.

Golden Triangle officials are hoping to replicate that success with their new arrangement, which doesn’t fully come online until October 2014. Seventy percent of the $2.5 million budget for what will eventually be the Golden Triangle Regional Development Authority will come from public entities within Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Clay counties. The other 30 percent will come from private sources.

For a complete story on Chickasaw County’s possible partnership with Pontotoc and Union counties, click here.

 

Details of Golden Triangle regional economic development agency coming Friday

September 10th, 2012 No comments

Golden Triangle officials involved in the possible formation of a regional economic development organization self-imposed a Sept. 14 deadline to either come up with something or abandon the idea.

It appears they’ve come up with something.

Whatever that is will be unveiled Friday at 2 p.m. on the campus of East Central Mississippi Community College.

Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman told the Mississippi Business Journal earlier this summer that regional organizations would be a requirement moving forward for communities the size of Starkville, West Point and Columbus, if they wanted to compete for economic development mega-projects like Blue Springs’ Toyota plant.

“Our best opportunities lie in cooperation,” Wiseman said then.

This isn’t the first swing the three communities have taken at something like this. The Golden Triangle Regional Airport was a joint effort. But in the early 1970s, each county asked voters to approve a bond issue that would fund an industrial park to serve the entire area. Clay County voters approved it; voters in Lowndes and Oktibbeha did not.

Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link, said in July that his organization would pay some role in getting a regional outfit operational. Higgins made a lot of the same points Wiseman did – combining the workforces of three counties would better get the attention of a big prospect than would the smallish workforce of one. More important than that, he said, is that when Mississippi’s congressional delegation is asked for help – financial or otherwise – on a particular project, they want to see more than one community doing the heavy lifting.

A few of the big questions that will need to be answered Friday is how the new organization will be funded, how it will be governed and who will lead the transition. Figuring out how to merge the mission of the new organization with the existing, individual economic development agencies will be another issue that requires attention.