March 15, 2013 10:15:48 AM
Incoming Ward 5 Alderman Scott Maynard is going door-to-door in his ward this campaign season.
He's not glad-handing for votes. Instead, he is getting to know his constituents and make sure he understands his ward's needs.
Maynard, a Republican, needs only a single vote to become the new Ward 5 alderman; He locked up the seat after no other candidates entered the race before the March 8 qualifying deadline. He replaces Jeremiah Dumas, who chose not to run for reelection.
Not having an opponent doesn't mean Maynard has been relaxing, though. He has routinely attended numerous local government events, including official board of aldermen and planning and zoning meetings.
"I think it's important (to attend city functions) so that once you hit that point of transition ... you have a history built up behind you so you know the thoughts of the previous board and why certain decisions were made," he said. "It's interesting to sit and watch a P&Z meeting and really see the thought processes that go through as they make decisions. That group has a tough job every meeting. They do an excellent job of working through issues to try and meet the needs of Starkville."
Maynard, the director of the Mississippi State University Career Center, has worked with the university for almost 25 of the 42 years he has lived in Starkville. Working with a key link between emerging graduates and job providers has given him an insight toward what employers seek out of the local workforce, Maynard said.
Expanding Starkville's tax base through business attraction and diversifying the town's employment base is paramount to area growth, he says. He believes opportunities exist to forge relationships between employers and all stages of education - high schools, community colleges and universities - to ensure the Golden Triangle has a strong, stratified and educated workforce.
"It's very important for our community to diversify our employment base. High-tech job attraction at the Thad Cochran Research Park is very important, but we also need sustainable opportunities for all of our citizens," Maynard said. "There are a lot of resources out there in the form of grants or workforce development incentives for industry to take advantage of, where companies can partner with education providers to develop skill sets to meet their needs. That's how you can look at all levels of education and work together to develop a strong base for Starkville.
Maynard said by providing a strong workforce, Starkville can be prepared for the next step of economic development -- competition for large businesses. But don't discount smaller, locally grown businesses, he said. Those developments are just as important, Maynard said, and help provide economic stability within the community.
"It's very important in today's economic climate that you're able to reach out and put together a competitive package that is mutually beneficial - and those are the key words - to the developer and the community. Everything from an economic development standpoint is cyclical; right now, it's a developer's market. There are a lot of communities vying for business," he said. "One of the things we tend to lose sight of is that we still have to be active in going after smaller companies and retailers."
While addressing the city's needs, Maynard said he will never lose sight of representing his ward and helping his constituents.
"I tell people I think Ward 5 is possibly the most diverse ward in Starkville from many standpoints. I think most of our residents are like others in the city - we want to see Starkville be successful, grow and provide a quality of life that's better than how we started," he said. "I think everyone in my ward is interested in Starkville's economic development. To get to the next level as a city, we're going to have to expand our tax base. We've come a long way, but we can get over this hump and secure two or three really good projects, I think you'll see Starkville really start growing to its potential."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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