September 17, 2013 10:00:59 AM
Local economic developers say an announcement could come as early as October in regard to a proposed $20 million investment by a data-processing company.
Joey Deason, Oktibbeha County's representative with the Golden Triangle Development Link, said a tentative announcement date of Oct. 3 has been set for Project Cumulus, the first significant Link-backed initiative to near fruition for Starkville.
No other details about the announcement were available during the monthly Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority meeting Monday, but officials remain optimistic about the project's potential impact to the area.
Project Cumulus could bring in five or six high-paying, permanent jobs -- about $50,000-$65,000 per position -- and spur about 100 temporary jobs during construction efforts at the Thad Cochran Research Park. The potential investor's identity remains anonymous, but developers are hopeful the suitor could follow up the initial investment with second and third phases.
Both the Starkville Board of Aldermen and Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors approved 10-year tax abatements on the site's property taxes -- ad valorem will be waived, but school taxes remain due -- to entice the investor. Officials estimate Starkville School District -- later on, the Oktibbeha County consolidated school system -- will receive about $225,000 per year in financial support once the deal is finalized.
"We are very diligent. If (a potential economic development package) comes in and it passes the test, I'm going after it," Deason said. "We're being very aggressive, but at the same time we're doing our due diligence."
"Let me tell the board in no uncertain terms the best thing we ever did was join hands with the Link and acquire Joey's services," said OCEDA President Jack Wallace said. "We're finally doing the things that needed to be done, and we have someone who knows what to do, what button to mash and when to mash it. I think we finally have our act together, and I think the proof's already there."
Highway patrol station could become Cornerstone tenant
Another deal is nearing fruition and, if finalized, will provide a Cornerstone Park parcel for a new Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop G station.
Wallace first told the Dispatch in January that Mississippi State University was asking MHP to relocate -- Troop G's building is located on university property. He suggested in that meeting that OCEDA offer the state land in the industrial park located on the southern side of the Miss. Highway 25 and Miss. Highway 12 bypass.
"We're waiting on them to send us the dignitaries that want to be here, then we'll get together (for possibly finalizing the proposal)," Wallace told the OCEDA board.
No other details, including proposed construction costs and time, were available Monday.
The almost 230-acre commercial and industrial park is Oktibbeha County's most recent attempt to prepare the county for prospective companies.
"When industry comes to you these days, they want you to furnish land, and the MHP is no different," he said in January. "They have other options on where they could move, but selfishly we want to keep them in Oktibbeha County."
In addition to serving as the area's MHP base of operations, Troop G also provides residents with driver's license renewals and permits for firearms.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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