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Officials to discuss regional economic development

MAYHEW — Officials from Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Clay counties are to unveil plans for new regional development initiative at a meeting Sept. 14 at East Mississippi Community College in Mayhew.

In July, economic developers announced the formation of a steering committee representing the three counties charged with developing a partnership proposal by mid-September.

Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors president Marvell Howard tells the Starkville Daily News the forum will focus on organizing, funding and implementing a consortium.

“We really want to lay out plans for the vision and intention that the steering committee has for true regional development,” Howard said. “There are some time schedules built into (this proposal) and there certain marks we want to hit at specific times (if the project goes forward).”

Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said the potential endeavor could establish a level of regional cooperation the Golden Triangle — West Point, Columbus and Starkville — has never experienced.

“I think this effort is seen as an opportunity for the Golden Triangle to win and to win bigger than any one community can do on its own. This could allow each community to build upon its own strengths with the strength of the entire region.

“No one community has everything in terms of assets that attract economic development. By combining the assets of the entire Golden Triangle, we will all benefit,” Wiseman said.

The proposed new tri-county economic development authority comes four months after the West Point-Clay County Community Growth Alliance and the Columbus-Lowndes LINK signed a three-year affiliation agreement.

The agreement kept the Growth Alliance as West Point’s and Clay County’s chamber of commerce, while placing all economic development responsibility with the LINK.


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About Megan Wright

One comment

  1. Starkville copies a failed system
    with development terminology

    Brownfields, blights and redevelopment severely impact taxes and property ownership.

    Last fall, Mayor Wiseman asked the city to apply for an EPA brownfield revitalization grant. Wiseman said he didn’t know which properties in the city would be labeled brownfields.

    Brownfields are areas with real or perceived environmental contamination. One third of the brownfield sites developed with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant money was not contaminated.

    Blight is a less-offensive word for zoning and building code noncompliance. Just about anything can be designated a blight. If sidewalks don’t conform to the American Disabilities Act, they can be a blight. An unattrractive building, a vacant lot and agriculatural land can be a blight.

    A city uses ordinances to declare property blighted, a brownfield or part of a redevelopment project. Last fall, aldermen asked for $15,000 to create a redevelopment agency for Starkville. The power a redevelopment agency can hold is mind-boggling: an agency gets the increased tax revenue from project areas; an agency can sell bonds without voter approval; an agency can give public money to developers: cash, grants, tax rebates, free land or free improvements; an agency can condemn property and transfer it to others.

    A redevelopment agency is an unelected authority with its own revenue, budget and power to issue debt. The agency can condem private property, declare eminent domain and develop/sell property without bidding. It has the power to relocate people.

    The increase in property tax revenue is given to the redevelopment agency. Since a redevelopment agency takes school tax revenue, and since our our school board can raise taxes, this is a tax-and-spend disaster waiting to happen. Cities and counties also lose tax revenue to the redevelopment agency.

    Redevelopment specialist, Tripp Muldrow, said that Mississippi code requires a city to adopt a plan before giving a redevelopment agency the power to own property, to establish public-private partnerships, to issue bonds and to use other powers set forth in the code. Muldrow warned the city to deny the redevelopment agency the ability to tax and to deny them the ability to determine eminent domain. He discussed other redevelopment agencies in the state: Gulfport, Tupelo, Jackson, Canton and Pascagoula.

    Last spring, two California bills and one California Supreme Court case ended California’s seventy-year abuse of blight, brownfield and redevelopment. Read the list of abuses and ask yourself: “If this system failed in California, why would anyone want to copy it?”


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