September 11, 2012 10:08:15 AM
Friday, the public will get its first look at the details behind a proposed tri-county economic coalition between Lowndes, Clay and Oktibbeha.
A steering committee, comprised of representatives from each county, has spent the past two months exploring how a potential economic development powerhouse might be designed and how it would be funded and implemented.
The committee will present its findings Friday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., in the Lyceum Building at East Mississippi Community College's Mayhew campus.
In April, the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link signed a joint economic agreement with the West Point-Clay County Growth Alliance, agreeing to hire someone specifically under the Link umbrella to recruit industry for West Point and Clay County. In exchange, the West-Point-Clay County Growth Alliance agreed to pay the Link $350,000 annually for the next three years, with no guarantees.
Ron Maloney, of Sarasota, Fla., was hired in July as vice president of economic development for Clay County. Oktibbeha County's role, if any, has not been revealed.
If the three counties agree to a coalition, the new organization would also assume the Greater Starkville Development Partnership's industrial development duties, GSDP Board Chairman Steve Langston told The Dispatch in July.
Langston said Link CEO Joe Higgins would resign from the Link to work with the new organization, though Higgins has not confirmed that statement.
Elected officials from the three counties have responded enthusiastically to the concept of a tri-county coalition, saying a regional partnership between the three is not unusual, and it has been an effective industrial recruitment tool in other states.
Steering committee members representing Lowndes County are Gordon Flowers and Link Board President Jim McAlexander.
Representatives for Oktibbeha County are Jack Wallace, Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Marvell Howard and Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman. Clay County is represented by former Clay County chancery clerk Robbie Robinson and Jackie Edwards, president of the West Point-Clay County Community Growth Alliance.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.
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