October 22, 2013 11:22:04 AM
Many officials predicted C Spire's $22 million investment would spur other local initiatives, but Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority President Jack Wallace told supervisors Monday that economic developers are in the process of trying to land the area's next big investment.
Wallace delivered his remarks while presenting his agency's $766,430 budget to the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors. OCEDA's budget was previously approved by the Starkville Board of Aldermen last week.
The Golden Triangle Development Link's ability to land a significant investment - C Spire's plans to construct a data-processing center is expected to bring about two or three phases of small-number job-creation - shows other potential companies that Starkville is open for business, officials previously told the Dispatch. Combining C Spire's commitment with Yokohama Tire Company's Clay County investment, Wallace's message Monday to supervisors was simple: Business is about to pick up in Oktibbeha County.
"We've got some good prospects, none of which I'm ready to announce, but things are working," he said. "The (C Spire investment) has opened some eyes. There will be some things trailing around that facility, there's no doubt in my mind."
Oktibbeha County's Link Representative, Joey Deason, previously told the Dispatch the entity is looking to construct a speculative building at the Starkville Industrial Park to lure potential developers. Wallace again reiterated those plans, tying the potential building to possible spin-off businesses looking to relocate near the tire manufacturer.
"I'll get it all worked out before we do anything. We're working with the state right now," Wallace said. "Joey has done a good job for us, hitting the ground running. There's no doubt in my mind that Yokohama going into West Point is going to be a great boon for us. We're going to get some tier-three entities coming into Oktibbeha County."
A speculative building - "spec building" for short - is designed with current market conditions in mind.
Deason previously told the Dispatch last month the market then favored facilities which can handle significant in-house construction efforts. While Starkville has successfully marketed itself as a high-tech job destination with ties to a major research institution, an increase in manufacturing would give employment opportunities to a broader segment of the community.
The Link is not expected to utilize the combined $10 million in county and city economic development bonds for spec building funding. Deason previously said he would work to secure grants to subsidize construction costs.
Oktibbeha County inked a three-year, $1.05 million agreement last year that placed economic development enticement in the hands of the Joe Max Higgins-led Link. The city of Starkville contributes $50,000, while OCEDA and the Greater Starkville Development Partnership pay a combined $200,000. The county itself contributes the remainder.
"In my budget process, as long as I'm here I'm trying to build it into how we expense everything so we're able to come up with $100,000," Wallace told District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson when asked if OCEDA can continue its end of the deal.
"If we do, we're going to get that benefit back to the county and city. I look at it as a really good investment on our part," Wallace added. "We're dedicated to trying to do the best with every dollar we get, and I think we've done that very well."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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